You’re just not my type…

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I have been asked to write a blog for the Pilsner Urquell Master Bartender website.  This blog is aimed at Bartenders working in establishments serving the Czech lager.  Below is the first blog I wrote a few months ago.  Due to the original intended audience the piece is fairly brand led, but I stand by the the principles and hope you find it an interesting view on customer service.

I was recently given a book called ‘Don’t touch the Nuts – and other unwritten rules of the British Pub’: a guide on how one should behave in a pub which has clearly been influenced by some classic stereotypes surrounding British drinking culture. I know it’s found in the ‘humour’ section in bookshops, but I didn’t find it funny. The content is pretty inaccurate and in places verges on discrimination, glorifying the stereotype of the chauvinistic ‘English lager lout’. In the section on chatting up women behind the bar (yes, there is a whole section), the book suggests there are only two reasons to visit the pub; firstly to drink and secondly to chat up the buxom barmaid, who is herself stereotyped in the chapter ‘Nice Rack Darling – Barmaids & Boobs’. Charming.

Assuming you agree that these stereotypes are far-fetched, perhaps out of date and possibly mildly offensive, I’d like you to consider the preconceptions you might hold about your customers. Stereotyping is so convenient, enabling us to simplify, predict, and organise large blocks of information easily, but do men with beards only drink best bitter? Do businesswomen only drink Pinot Grigio?

Who drinks Pilsner Urquell? We find it has a varied target audience, young & old, male & female, real ale & lager fans alike all drink the original golden beer on different occasions. But these customers haven’t just happened across the uncompromised pure Pilsner by accident. Our staff regularly offer tasters to customers. We might have already poured them a different drink or settled their bill, but if we get chatting about beer we’ll give them a sip of something to try, who knows? Maybe they’ll order it next time.

We all understand that excellent service involves interacting with customers, engaging in conversation, recommending products, giving them different reasons to keep coming back. Sometimes stereotyping prevents us from offering great service; we can become blinkered, missing opportunities to give somebody a truly memorable visit, and that’s why we’re here, right?

Beer itself can get stereotyped too, often you need to convince patrons that not all lagers are bland mass produced fizz! To showcase the wide variety of beer we offer, and its versatility, we run regular beer & food matching evenings. We often have to assure newcomers to stick with beer and not change to their default glass of wine with food. Even the beer drinkers in the group usually find themselves enjoying a style of beer they thought they wouldn’t, like a lager or a dark beer. The non beer drinkers often surprise themselves and find several beers & pairings they like, many of them are now converted regular beer drinkers.

Have you stereotyped your customers in the past? Have you made assumptions about the drinks you serve? I know I have, and I have been pleasantly surprised when proven wrong on more than one occasion…

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