Customer Etiquette: 4 Do’s and Don’ts According to a Server

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In any business, one motto that’s always echoed is “The customer is always right”.

But having worked in the F&B industry for quite a while now, I will tell you that that line is a load of crap.

Treating customers with the guarantee that their demands will always be met is a free pass for them to be as arrogant and annoying as they please.

If you’ve ever worked as a waiter/waitress you would know that the high demands and bad attitude displayed by customers can really take a toll on the server.

So if you’re someone who frequently dines in restaurants, here are some simple customer etiquette rules you should follow.

Be Respectful to The Servers

Watch “Waiting” and I’ll guarantee any disrespectful customer will learn to be more humble.  (Source: Imgur)

I’ve worked as a server for a while and I’ve experienced the worst treatment from customers a handful of times.

From being screwed by someone for not giving them a discount (even when they weren’t entitled to one), to having a stack of plates in my hands yanked away – I’ve experienced it all.

I’ve even been mocked for when I used to be shy, and have also seen the female servers get cat-called and treated as sex objects.

Nobody deserves to be treated poorly for no reason, especially people who are working hard to serve you.

Imagine if that was a single mom, or a teenager trying to make ends meet, or someone who’s hearing and speech-impaired that you were being rude to?

Next time you go somewhere, try to talk to your server politely – greet them with a smile and maybe even start a conversation and befriend them. Don’t look down on them just because you’re the customer.

Being respectful towards your server goes a long way in making their day easier and also not stressing yourself out.

Don’t Pressure Them

Remember I mentioned earlier about a guy who yanked some plates out of my hands? It was during a busy night. We did not just cater to them but to a full house of other customers as well.

Obviously, he had to wait a bit for his party’s main course to come out, maybe half an hour or so. Not being able to wait any longer, he decided to storm into the kitchen and harass the head chef.

“If you won’t cook the food faster then I’ll do it.”

Now, I can understand how someone would feel when they’ve waited for their food for a long time and it still hasn’t come. But does insulting the servers and/or the chef do anything to speed up the process?

Instead, he could’ve been more polite and ask, “Hey, can you check on our food? My friends and I have been waiting for a while now”.

So if you’re ever in a position where you’ve been waiting for a long time and start to get impatient, remain calm and be respectful. Don’t blow up on the servers or the hosts.

Make Way For Your Server

How would you feel if you were given those smug looks or being ignored?   (Source:

Boy, if there was one problem I always hated as a server it was this.

Usually, when the food arrives the server will announce the dish before placing it on the table, but some people don’t bother listening and don’t clear some space for the server.

But if the server just threw the plate on the table and walked away, they would feel offended.

I’ve experienced this so many times and ended up having to yell just to get people’s attention. Obviously, the customers wouldn’t like it if I just threw the plates onto the table, so I have to show professionalism.

So why not try and show them that same sort of respect?

If a server is trying to be polite to you then you should return the favour – give a bit of room for the waiting staff to put the food down, or when they say “excuse me”, you should instantly give a bit of space instead of staying glued to your phone.

And if everybody is eating individually, try to ask for their attention and listen to when a server announces the dish.

But even if they aren’t being the friendliest towards you, you should still treat them with respect. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even make their day.

Don’t Act Entitled

(Source: Giphy)

At any restaurant, you should be met with friendly faces, provided excellent service and have a pleasant time. But just because your servers or hosts treat you nicely doesn’t mean you should start acting entitled.

Going back on what I mentioned earlier, there was a customer who, after coming to our restaurant a few times and was met with friendly hospitality, assumed he was a “priority customer”.

And one time, when I handed him his bill, he noticed he did not receive a discount. He instantly demanded to know why – I replied saying I didn’t know he was entitled to one since usually, my boss would handle that situation.

He ended up losing his temper on me. It’s customers like that that make servers unmotivated to serve you with a friendly smile or positive attitude, so do your part and be a friendly customer.

Don’t ask for your food to jump the queue just because you can’t wait. I can’t even recount the number of times I’ve encountered people who said, “Could you tell the kitchen to serve our food first? We’re very hungry,” while I gaze at a bistro full of other customers who’ve come before them.

Instead of having high expectations or thinking you’re a “special” customer whenever you walk into any establishment, be humble and considerate for the people around you.


Be thoughtful whenever you are being served by the waiting staff of a restaurant or the cashier at a Starbucks – be kind to them and also be a responsible customer.

Showing dignity and respect is the best way to have a good time out and you’ll also be making someone’s day just by being nice to them.

For more articles by Gregory read How a Love Triangle Ruined Our Friendship but Brought Us Closer Too, and 5 Things Teens Need to Learn Growing up into an Adult.

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Gregory Wong
An aspiring writer from Kuching. Opinionative, cynical, always hungry (figuratively and literally), and always searching for more meaning in life.
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