Food Safety

Customer Service Skills In-service

September 8, 2017   /

Instructor: ________________________________


Subject: Developing Customer Service Skills


Target audience:  Dietary staff


Date: ________________________________


Time: 30 minutes


Budget: ________________________________


Behavioral objectives

By the end of the session, participants will know the ways that we currently provide good customer service, as well as ways that we could improve customer service within our department. Employees also will participate in brainstorming sessions to determine solutions to tough customer service-related situations.


Equipment needed/cost

  • Paper: ________________________________
  • Pencils: ________________________________


Materials needed/cost





Anticipatory set

Too often in our jobs we spend so much time thinking about the food that we are serving, that we forget to think about how our customers feel about the food that we are serving. What do I mean by that? I mean that we know how we assess the quality of our food—we taste it, we temp it, and we garnish it. What we do not necessarily know is the customer’s perception of our meals.


We can begin by asking: Who are our customers? They may include patients, patients’ visitors, and hospital employees. Then we ask: What factors impact the overall impression customers have of our establishment? Customers are not only looking at the food, but also at the server’s disposition and the atmosphere.


Why should you care whether customers consider our service as poor?

  • You want to do work you are proud of.
  • You like working on a team that is respected.
  • Providing good service is an important way to attract and maintain a customer base, which promotes job security for you.


That is the answer to why customer service is so crucial.   


Lesson sequence

  1. What are some ways that we could find out how employees feel about our meal services?
  • Talk to them
  • Provide comment cards
  • Put ourselves into the customers’ shoes for a meal and assess how we feel

Have you ever pretended you were a customer? What did you think?

  1. What kinds of things do you think customers notice about the atmosphere of the dining room and cafeteria? The following are examples of items that affect the atmosphere:
  • Lighting
  • Noise level
  • Cleanliness
  • Decor


Do we have control over these things?

  1. What do you think that customers notice about our food?
  • Appearance
  • Taste
  • Temperature
  • Price (in the cafeteria)
  • Number of choices that they have
  • Size of the portions


Do we have control over these things?

  1. What do you think that customers notice about you when you serve them?

They may notice:

  • How much attention you give them
  • How timely you are
  • Whether or not you respond to their concerns
  • How you look
  • Whether you seem cheerful 
  1. Food is one of the most important aspects of patients’ overall satisfaction with the hospital. If patients are unhappy with their food or the food service here, they are likely to rate their stay here with a relatively low score on their discharge survey.
  2. Now, we will look at customer service as it relates to patients, employees, and visitors. I am going to read down a list of statements, and ask you to raise your hand if you agree that we already do a good job with it. If you think we aren’t doing it, but should be, or if you do not think it is important that we do it also raise your hand. We will discuss the group’s answers:
  • We give patients choices when it comes to what to order and what size portions they want. 
    • Raise your hand if you agree “We give patients choices when it comes to what to order and what size portions they want.”
    • Raise your hand if you do not think that we do this right now, but think that we should.
    • Does anyone think that we do not do this and that we should not start doing this?
    • Note to instructor: Continue to review all of the statements in this manner.


  • We ask employees and visitors what foods they would like to see in the cafeteria.
  • We will bring patients meals or snacks outside of our usual mealtimes, if it is approved by a nurse first.
  • We help patients to open and assemble the foods on their trays, if necessary.
  • We respond quickly to patients’, employees’, and visitors’ questions or concerns. If we do not know something, we tell them the truth, saying that we will find out the answer and come back…and then we do!
  • We pay attention to the amount patients are consuming. If the amount they are consuming does not appear adequate, we ask if they would like to eat something else, or if there is something that we could do to help them enjoy their meals more.
  • We make sure that the meals appear attractive.
  • We almost always give patients what they order or request. 
  • We work together to make sure that patients’ needs are met. We do this by communicating with each other and with other departments.
  • We respond with compassion and empathy when a patient is upset. This means understanding that they do not feel well, are scared or confused, and sometimes feel very far away from the people and things that they love.
  • We smile and make eye contact with all patients.
  • We all work together to find ways to improve our service.
  • We understand that employees have a limited amount of time to eat their meals, and we try to make our service as fast as possible.


  1. Next we will look at some specific scenarios. What could you do to provide good customer service in these sticky situations?
  • A patient calls down to the kitchen and is irate, saying that the chicken was cold, the vegetables were mushy, and the pudding was runny. Every time that you attempt to calm her down, she seems to become angrier. She finally says, “No one here listens to me!”
  • You have a rush of customers and run out of lasagna in the cafeteria. Customers in line are very upset, because they have already punched out. 
  • A customer in the cafeteria comes back to the cash register after eating, and demands his money back because the portion that he ate did not fill him up. He feels that he paid too much money for it.


Review Date May 2, 2017

Updated by staff