Customer Service Coaching and the Salad


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While eating at a restaurant while traveling, an interesting customer service interaction unfolded that I could not ignore. As the three people at the adjacent table received their food, I noticed one of them make a face and explain to the staff that something was in the salad. Something that should not be in a salad.

The plate was removed, and the other two people shared their food until a replacement meal arrived. You couldn’t help but notice a pretty thorough examination of the second salad. It was declared clean, and the meal continued.

I gave my salad a close look when it arrived as well.

Although the meal continued, you could not help but notice how this interaction somehow tainted what would normally be a pleasant lunch. Whatever topics that would have filled their time together, had been replaced by a salad and service.

The bill arrived. Redness appeared on faces and necks. Conversation intensity increased.

I could only guess that the salad remained on the bill, and no gesture was made to make up for the prior issue. One of them pulled out their credit card and placed it down with the bill.

I got up and walked over.

“Sorry to bother you, but customer service is an interest of mine, talk to you for a minute?”

They agreed, but were still a little stunned/agitated by the whole lunch interaction. I explained that I witnessed and was aware of what had transpired.

“What is really upsetting is not that the salad remained on the bill, it was the indifferent attitude of the staff. We explained what happened, and instead of apologizing, they simply said ‘ok’ and took the salad away.”

I encouraged them to speak up. Talk to the manager or someone to explain what happened. Typically, a business only hears from 4 percent of their dissatisfied customers. That means for every 100 times you drop the ball, only 4 people will tell you.

Never assume that the absence of complaints equates to satisfaction.

That doesn’t mean your customers are not telling someone. Despite not talking to you, those same dissatisfied customers will tell 8 to 10 other people about their interaction, and some will tell up to 20. With social media, now they can tell hundreds or thousands of people.

They spoke up. I watched a manager come over to talk to them, and a new bill arrived. Their tone, and demeanor changed. They smiled, and prepared to leave.

“We told them that we needed to talk about the bill and the lunch experience, now that we had been coached on customer service.”

We laughed and shook hands as they left.

Things will go wrong with your customers. You will make a mistake, or fail especially when things are hectic or busy. How you treat you customers when you make that mistake can makes all the difference.



Keep in mind, there may be others coaching your customers to make you better as well.