At your service

Being good at customer service is a valuable, transferable skill. Some people make it look easy. Some people make it look very difficult. You can train people to be better at it, or at least less bad. But some people just have a natural aptitude for good service that can not be faked or simulated. By writing this post I am obviously and immodestly bracketing myself with them.

I was a good bartender.

I knew who was going to be served next and I let them know that I knew, so that they knew as well. I let everyone at the bar know who was next, and who was after them. It was obvious to my thirsty customers that I knew what I was doing, and that people would be served quickly and fairly. People relaxed. They stopped waving ten pound notes and feigning agitation. Mine was a calm bar.

And I never held a glass by the rim. No one wants to drink from where a stranger’s hand has just been. This isn’t intuitively obvious to everyone. It was to me.

Bartending is about letting people know that they are seen, managing their expectations, and turning money into drinks with a satisfactory level of professional competence. A friendly disposition helps, but it does not compensate for a failure to deliver on the basics.

Good service is about caring. It’s because you care that you imagine the kind of experience that people want. It’s by caring that you give them that experience.