Serve Like a Pro: A Waiters Guide to Good Customer Service

Want to know how to serve like a pro? This is the ultimate guide to good customer service for restaurant servers.
Amanda Hamel

I love being a server. I love the rush of bringing people food and drinks and having the opportunity to make them happy. But sometimes the job can be stressful, especially if you don’t know what your customers want or how to serve them properly. That's why we're here! We'll teach you how to be an attentive server so that when you do your job right, everyone has a great experience at your restaurant! Everyone's experience waiting tables will be different depending on their restaurant, but these tips are sure to help you out no matter where you serve.

Pay attention to what your guests want and need.

As a server, you’re the one who gets to find out what your guests want and need. That’s why it’s so important that you pay attention to their requests. Ask questions about their needs, be specific about what you can do for them, and be ready with a solution when needed.


Smiling is one of the most basic, universal ways to make people feel better. Smiling can be considered an “emotional contagion” because it spreads happiness and positivity across a room. Smiling makes you more approachable, which can help you get jobs as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant or café. And when you're working your shift at the table, smiling will make customers feel more comfortable around you and therefore more likely to tip well for good service! So, smile like crazy!

Demonstrate that you are paying attention and care about your guests.

As a server, you’ll want your guests to feel like they can rely on you for anything they may need. Do not be afraid to ask questions, or even just say “I'm sorry to hear that” when someone tells you something that troubles them. Showing empathy for others will go a long way toward making customers feel important, which in turn can help boost sales and loyalty ratings. Some of your restaurant guests may want a quick experience, while others may want to get to know you a bit. Pay close attention when talking to your guests to get a good idea of the type of experience they're looking for.

Be ready to accommodate special requests.

Customers may have special requests and could even have allergies or dietary restrictions. When someone brings up a food allergy they may have, do not take that lightly. It’s your duty to communicate with the kitchen and ensure their food is prepared to fit their needs. Sometimes customers may have requests for drinks, food, or service that you can't fulfill immediately; this is why it's important to be prepared in advance of your shift so you're not scrambling at the last minute when customers call with their requests. Customers may want seats with more privacy (for example, if they are waiting on someone). You should allow these requests without hesitation after speaking to your manager and deciding on the best way to proceed!

The final thing to remember about accommodating your guests' needs is that sometimes there just isn't enough time between when they place their order and when you deliver it—that's why we recommend keeping an eye out for any potential issues with orders during preparation so that everything goes smoothly once delivery begins!

Know the menu.

When you're at a restaurant and you look at the menu, you must know what each dish is made of. This will help tremendously when you come across guests with a food allergy. It's also important to know how long each dish will take to prepare, how large the serving size is going to be, how much it costs per person, and more. If possible, even ask for more information about these items when learning the menu so that if there are any questions or concerns later on in the meal for your guests, they'll you’ll answers ready. Being prepared to answer any question about a dish will save you and your kitchen staff from having to waste time figuring it out during a rush.

Be a good listener.

Listen to what the customer wants. Do not assume that you know what they want, or that they’ve told you they want something specific in their order (or even at all). It’s easy for waiters and waitresses to get distracted by other customers who are trying to talk them into something, but if your main focus is on providing good service, then it can be helpful for you to listen carefully for clues about the customer's needs.

Listen to what the customer needs. Be sure that whatever it is that a customer requests can be achieved! By knowing your menu, and being attentive you should be able to provide a wonderful dining experience. Don’t be afraid to give some recommendations too if that’s what someone requests!

Check back regularly to make sure all needs are being met.

The best servers are those who check back regularly to make sure all needs are being met. If a customer is satisfied with their order and has finished eating, it's time to move on to the next customer. But if the customer isn't happy with his or her meal or there is something else he or she needs, then you should ask if everything is okay. You may even want to bring them another drink or dessert so that they can enjoy their meal even more!

Take initiative. Get the customer what they need even if they haven't asked for it yet (a glass of water, a basket of bread, a refill on coffee, extra napkins). The best waiters are the ones who don't wait for customers to ask for what they want. They act on their initiative and get people what they need, even if it hasn't been specifically requested yet. Just remember not to go back to each table too frequently so your guest shave time to enjoy their meal. Do not disturb a guest if he or she is working, reading, or otherwise occupied with something other than the food or drink you are serving.

Serve drinks, entrees, and side dishes in the proper order.

There's one thing that all servers have in common: they serve drinks, entrees, and side dishes in the proper order. This is obvious to most people, but it can be easy to forget. You should always start with drinks and then move on to entrees before moving on to dessert. Unless you receive a special request to do it differently.

When you're preparing your meal for a table of four people (or more), every guest must get their appetizer and meal at the same time so there are no delays between courses or plates being cleared away too often by other members of your staff who are serving other guests' orders. You also want to make sure their food comes out all at once so no one is left hanging without their meal.

In addition, if there are any dietary restrictions or allergies among guests at your restaurant/bar location then make sure those patrons know what they'll be getting before they arrive, especially those who might not want anything spicy! You don't want anyone getting food poisoning from these ingredients because someone forgot about them before serving up some food!

Being an attentive server can turn a so-so dining experience into a memorable one for customers.

Serving customers with a smile, being attentive and helpful, and remembering their food preferences can turn a so-so dining experience into a memorable one for customers. Customers who have good service are more likely to return. Studies show that repeat business increases by as much as 50% when you're providing good customer service—and that's not even counting all the word-of-mouth marketing you get from repeat visits! It's been shown that happy customers tell others about their experiences at your restaurant or bar more than unhappy ones do (although this doesn't mean unhappy people won't talk).

Your restaurant will be recommended by other venues where they've eaten recently—which means more potential new customers! You'll have an easier time getting people who don't know about your restaurant back into its doors again because they've already had such positive experiences with them before (and hopefully enjoyed some of those same dishes).

As you can see, there are many things to keep in mind when you are a server. It's not easy and it takes dedication. But in the end, being a good waiter is so worth it!