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HOW TO ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Wondering how to improve your bar and make it stand out from the crowd? Ago Perrone, from The Connaught – recently crowned the best bar in the world, offers practical and obtainable tips that will elevate customer experience in your bar.

An Ode to 2020

In a very turbulent and challenging year, I foremost want to show my support for all of the professionals who stood up to prove the power and relevance of our work and industry. Hospitality is what allows us to express our creativity, our fondness for human relations, our curiosity and our passion for mixing culture, stories and ingredients. The industry has changed phenomenally over the past decade and remarkably so in the past year.

The bar industry will continue to change and adapt well into 2021 and beyond. The last year showed our capacity to adapt, to evolve and continue to remain relevant for our customers. At the Connaught Bar, we’ve embraced this approach of transforming challenges into opportunities and here are some of the tips and advice I can share to guarantee enhanced customer satisfaction

Be Creative with Measures

Although adapting to the current changes might be challenging, it tends to push us to bring out the best in ourselves and create new opportunities. Increase customer satisfaction by making guests feel comfortable and building their confidence in your bar by focusing on the way you approach and get close to them while using your traditional service and communication style.

• Show personality and confidence

Customers need to see and feel they can trust you because you know what you’re doing - you can take charge of their experience.

• Show you’re Ready & Willing to Help

We always have some masks available for the guests as a kind gesture and enable them to move around where necessary. However, we never make them feel guilty for not having the masks at hand.

• Be Visible with your Measures

All items now need to be visible to ensure transparency about your safety procedures. Make sure these are well organized to convey style and where necessary add some new structure as part of the overall guest experience. For example, make sanitizers available around the entire venue. We have put them in beautiful containers so they fit in with the existing furniture of the bar, making them stand out as a stylish new item.

Personalize the Guest Experience

Reduced capacity and curfew rules can change the atmosphere in a bar significantly, even slowing down the pace of service. However, we used this new rhythm to our advantage. We have more time to interact with and look after our guests making it an ever more personalized experience. For examples, mixologists have extra time to create specials or satisfy guests’ requests.

Tips for personalizing and making the most of guest experience:

• Ensure your floor staff are dedicating themselves to each table more attentively and using this as an opportunity to upsell food and other luxury or unusual items on the menu.

• You can set up upselling plans to make up for the reduced sales volume with higher value items. For example, by establishing a conversation and making the guests feel like they’re receiving special treatment, you can turn what started as a cocktail hour or aperitif into a dinner.

• People are now willing to treat themselves more than ever when going out so capitalize on this opportunity: This is your chance to create some magic and make guests forget about the outside world for a moment through attentive service, spectacular cocktails and human conversation.

• Additionally, the guests who are sitting in a less crowded space are more aware of how the service runs - they can notice more details and appreciate your work and commitment much more. Use this moment to improve your communication and body language skills, and to evaluate and enhance your service style. These are the days to build even stronger relationships and loyalty among your customer base.

Menu Storytelling

Every technology or innovation you adopt needs to convey a consistent style, dependent on the identity of the bar. From my own experience at the Connaught Bar, the menu is a sort of presentation, a business card of who we are and our style.

Under the current circumstances, I would not personally recommend the use of physical menus that are complex pieces of art as they might become challenging when it comes to sanitization.

Communication

Extra time with the guest is your opportunity to speak to them about the menu, instead of just handing it to them.

• Use these moments to talk through specials, seasonal serves and something different that goes beyond guest expectations.

• Guide them to key drinks that you want to sell and offer a story about them - creating storytelling around your offering is now more beneficial than ever.

• The menu, digital or physical, then becomes a point of reference to the personalized service they received • If using electronic devices, make sure you compliment this with extra attention to body language and interaction with guests.

Improving Standard of Service

• The quality of serves is always paramount and particularly now that guest numbers are smaller and more attentive. This is a key reason why your standards need to improve this year. Take this as an opportunity to elevate the experience you offer.

• Use Different Glassware – There may be glassware your bar couldn’t use before because it is particularly fragile or challenging to wash for high volume of serves. Take this opportunity to elevate your customer’s serve and give them a unique experience.

• Create Alternative Experiences – for our Connaught Martini we can no longer hand the bitters bottles for guests to smell and select their favorite aroma. So, we developed a flavor paper map where we can drop all the different bitters similarly to what you would do in a fragrance shop where shoppers try different perfumes. This might initially have sounded like a devalue of our Connaught Martini theatrical experience, but it turned out to be the exact opposite. Our Connaught bitters flavor paper has become a powerful element, something guests are intrigued by and responded enthusiastically to.

The Power of Digital Promotion

Digital is stronger than ever. We capitalized on it from closure and all the way through re-opening.

• Pay attention to and use your social media: Promoting our Connaught Bar brand but also our personal brands has been key to staying creative and finding the right inspiration and attitude.

• Even when re-opening, we have continued to stay active on socials and this has been really important in order to communicate our new menu, recent projects, changes and, above all, to keep ourselves front of customers’ minds by engaging with them online. If you do not have an existing digital strategy in place, develop it while paying attention to target the right audience.

• Collaborations with drinks and lifestyle brands are also very beneficial to build quality content, create projects, new products, innovations, and to connect with new people and market audiences.

Put Community at the Heart Partnering with neighborhood businesses is very important. We have seen the power of community support and initiatives during lockdown. Make your neighborhood feel that you are there, that you are ready to support and take part in local initiatives.

• By taking part in local initiatives, you can establish relationships with your local suppliers and businesses. By partnering with a local eatery you can produce a special one-off moment for guests to enjoy such as a pop-up takeaway/delivery service.

Five Key Takeaways