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Secrets of Success

Sara’s Story – Part 1

This month’s article is an “audience participation” opportunity. The following story is based on a conversation I recently had with an applicant I was interviewing for a customer service position.

I asked “Sarah” to tell me a story that would show how she had dealt with a difficult customer.
Here is her story:
Sarah was working as a waitress in a family-owned Italian restaurant. The chef decided to feature a Friday evening steak special.
A husband and wife were seated at one of her tables. The husband ordered spaghetti and meatballs and the wife ordered the steak special. The husband’s meal arrived soon after it was ordered. He began eating while the wife waited for her steak.

When the wife’s order finally did arrive –forty-five minutes later- it was cold. The woman began to cry. Her husband, she noted, had finished his meal while she sat waiting for her food. When it was served, it was cold. Now her evening was ruined. She told Sarah she was not about to pay for the meal.

Sarah apologized and told the woman she understood why she didn’t want to pay. She asked the couple to excuse her for a few minutes. She found her manger and explained what had happened. The manager was a young man in his early twenties approximately Sarah’s age. He listened to her story and explained that the woman must pay for her meal. While the steak had arrived after some delay she had in fact gotten the meal she ordered.

Sarah was in a bind. If she insisted the wife pay, she risked both a scene and a terribly unhappy customer. If she told the woman she did not have to pay she was being insubordinate and could possibly lose her job.


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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488