Friday, November 11, 2016


My first job, which I actually previously discussed in a different blog post and where I'm still currently employed when I go back home during breaks, is a restaurant where I cashier, deliver food, clean, etc. There I witnessed many conflicts where the customer said they got the wrong order or something was done incorrectly if they specified how they want their order made. As a worker for the restaurant I am an agent to both the restaurant and the customer. My job is to please the customer to the best of my ability, and to help the restaurant maintain sales by presenting a welcoming, friendly and polite image to the customers. Since I sometimes delivered the food I had many one on one confrontations with the customers when they claimed their order was wrong. Being the only representative of the restaurant there, I would be put on the spot as to why the order was wrong as if I was the one that cooked the food. As I experienced more and more of these situations (although it was a small percentage of all orders) I started crafting a system to avoid conflict. Apologizing and asking what is wrong, as any logical worker would, is always my first step. This allows me to please the customer since I make the customer feel like they are being heard and appreciated, while presenting a great image for the restaurant since we obviously did something wrong (the customer is always right, not really but that is beside the point). After gathering information on how the order was messed up I proceed to call the restaurant and inform them about how the order was wrong exactly. As an agent to both the customer and the restaurant, fixing the mistake that we made is key to making both principals happy; the customer gets what they want and the restaurant fixes a mistake that will pay off in the long run. After informing my coworkers I then relay the response back to the customer to assure them that they will get what they want (we always cater to the customer so no matter what the restaurant will send the right order even if the customer was wrong, which they sometimes are). Doing these three simple steps allows me to defuse conflict and please the two principals.
There may or may not be a different way to resolve this issue but through trial and error I have crafted what works best for me. Sure I could tell the customer to call the restaurant and allow them to handle the situation, but as an agent to both the restaurant and customer it is my job to make things easy for the customer and portray a great image of the restaurant. Doing these steps allows me to fulfill both of these requirements. 
If I chose to only satisfy the restaurant by not listening to the customer and walking away when they are not pleased (which is not even possible since making one sale is less valuable than keeping a customer and maintaining a good image) I would fail as an agent because I would not be fulfilling the requirements I previously mentioned. On the other hand, only satisfying the customer is not even an option or feasible for that matter because the restaurant would need to know about the issue regardless. All in all, yes I could fail as an agent if I chose to satisfy one master, but only if I was to choose satisfying the restaurant.


  1. As a customer of your blog posts, I would appreciate paragraphs with line space in between.

    It seems that your employer had a policy in place that anticipated this happening now and then. Am I right here? I say this though you began with the part about asking the customer what is wrong. Do you also stick around on deliveries to check that the customer got what the customer expected? We only get pizza delivered and even then, not that often, but I believe we pay and the guy is gone before we open the box. So I wonder how that works in your case.

    If the customers are repeaters, then it makes sense to fix complaints as a way to maintain customer loyalty. You didn't write about that but you might consider it from that point of view. If that is what is going one, while there are errors, there really isn't a triangle as both the restaurant and the customer want the error fixed. So you might consider a really busy night when repeating an order to get it right interferes with other business then. Does that matter for the story you told?

  2. The job you do back home is definitely a stressful one with a lot of moving parts, so I definitely see how conflict comes up in that type of working condition. I am a little confused on the logic of your triangle in this situation though.

    You say that part of your job, and your restaurant's expectation of you is to always cater to the customer. If that is what the restaurant wants out of you, and I'm sure that is what the customer wants as well, how does this make up a triangle? It seems like you as an agent have a clear, one-way path. I have not worked this industry so please correct me if I'm wrong.

  3. For this type of situation it would appear that the customer is not directly involved in the triangle principal-agent model you described. From your previous posts about this job, you have described this restaurant as a relatively small business so their may be only one principal.

    Though in many situations to principals may exist in the restaurant business, being the restaurant owner, and the manager they hire to conduct day-to-day operations. While both principals want the best for the business, a conflict of direction could arise in the situation you described above. The priority for the manager is to maintain an efficient workplace, and run day-to-day operations smoothly, while the owner may have more of a focus of bringing in more business, and maximizing profitability. This could lead one principal, the manager, to direct focus less on correcting errors for customers, and the other principal, the owner, to direct focus more on customer satisfaction, and subsequent business.