Where’s Your Waiter’s Script

Ok, So we’ve all heard the jokes.  Especially those of us that live or spend any amount of time in New York or L.A.  It seems like everyone that serves you at a restaurant in these cities is just doing this gig to pass the time until the call comes in from Cameron or Spielberg.

But, isn’t it ironic that the best restaurant servers do things their way?  They don’t follow a script.  They don’t take direction about their every move.  They bring their own personal style into the engagement with their customers.

This struck me last weekend when I was out to dinner with my family.  And for those of you that know me personally, no, it was not at my local Applebee’s.

It was, on the surface, undetectable.  But, the more I thought about it, the more it began to sink in.  Sure, my waiter did all the basics.  He was attentive, courteous and timely without being overly intrusive.  But, the style with which he delivered his service was what made the experience richer.

After a few days of pondering this, going back to work in a contact center on Monday morning, I wondered how that same dining experience would have gone if my waiter was given a script to follow verbatim.

I’ve heard all the reasons under the sun why scripts are necessary in the contact center.  The interaction is complex.  These reps are paid eight bucks an hour.  They can’t be trusted with free forming it; using their brains.  The regulators require that we say certain things. 


Hire people with a passion to serve.  Give them the basics and set them free.  You’ll be amazed at what they’ll deliver.

Then again, maybe you prefer the automated talking box at the drive through.  If so, script away.


  1. Why is it that stores hire people who don't even have a clue that customer service IS one of the key factors in overall financial success, as well as branding. Read my experience on "the dumbing down of Macy's"…a rather humorous take on shopping for a much needed item. A totally frustrating experience.
    Have a great day. laurel

  2. Given the rate of unemlpoyment one might think "people with a passion to serve" might be available for eight bucks an hour. Real life experience might dampen that passion pretty quickly though.

  3. This is right on the money, Barry. If you bring passionate people into the fold, give them a solid foundation, and trust them to do their jobs, that's when the magic happens. Thanks so much for the great post!
    Zoe Geddes-Soltess
    Community Engagement, Radian6

  4. As a former server (7 years in the restaurant business), I really appreciate this post, Barry.

    Could not agree more, sir.


    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team

  5. Glad it resonated Jason. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I agree Zoe. Interestingly enough though, there is still a strong faction that believes in scripts and call control like this.

  7. I agree Zoe. Interestingly enough though, there is still a strong faction that believes in scripts and call control like this.

  8. Barry.. In theory it seems easy to "hire people with a passion to serve" but if you approach this realistically many people in customer service (waiters, call center reps, sales associates, etc) do not have the job of their dreams and the passionate are very few and hard to come across. Therefore, a little bit more control over them is necessary as much of the time they do not put their best effort forward. My two cents.

  9. Adrianne, I get it. But here's the thing. If we extend that argument, is waiting tables anyone's dream job? So, by that logic, a fraction of a percent of people that are in that job should be expected to provide an exceptional experience. Everyone else gets a pass for stinking at the job because they're just passing time until Speilberg discovers them. When I hear a waiter say "I'm not really a waiter, I'm an actor/musician/writer" I think "what are you getting paid to do? Wait tables? Ok, then your a waiter. Do it well. Or go do something else. You can be passionate about many things besides your dream job. in simpliest terms, passion just means caring and having enough pride to do the best you can do.

    I'm not in my "dream job" as I defined it 20 years ago. Who is? If that were the case my name would be Mike Portnoy(Google him). But its not. So, I have embraced this thing I do, how ever I got here, and I do it with gusto. And I don't need my boss directing my every move (scripting me) as a cover for me just filling time until I get discovered.

    That shouldn't be too much to ask.

    Thank you so much for commenting.

  10. Joern Roegler says:

    Adrianne, of course you always have some bad apples that are just there to make a living and couldn't care less about the customer.

    The problem with the control approach is just that you will never know who has some passion and whop doesn't, because all of your people are following the same script.

    Only when you take off the control lid a bid will you see who your passionate performers actually are and you can reward them, use them to inspire others, drive your whole service experience around them.

    The others – well, maybe best to give them an opportunity to find their dream job somewhere else.

    Your customers will thank you for it

  11. Anonymous says:

    Came to this forum a little late, but here's my two cents . . .

    I have a passion to serve. Let's face it, I don't know anyone who get's paid what they're worth, but regardless of what my rate of pay is I will give my employer his money's worth. Therefore, "a little bit more control over them" is NOT necessary.

  12. I love this! As someone who worked in minimun wage customer service for years, I know the kind of effort and passion it take to give concsious effort in a profession that's severely undervalued. I've worked with people who didn't value the idea that if you are getting paid to do a job, you need to give it 100%. I worked the same job for 3 years at minimum wage. I didn't even know that I would be missed if I ever found another job. When I left, my supervisor said, "We always lose the good ones. I always admired how you did things in a different way – but it worked for you". Customer Service can be a truly horrible, thankless job – unless you determine to set your own goals and meet them. No one is gonna waste their time pushing you to do better if they're only paying you $8 an hour. If your goal is to work your way up or even just move on, you have to do the heavy lifting.

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