I was reading a bit of fiction on the internet recently and came across a passage where the protagonist was interacting with a waiter trying to take care of 30 different tables at once. While the waiter was doing his best to try and be sociable and answer all the customer’s questions, the interaction had to be cut short to allow the waiter to attend to all his other customers. This left the protagonist wondering if the waiter expected a larger tip for taking the few extra moments he spent answering questions. In addition, the protagonist also wondered if the waiter still expected tips automatically for just doing his job instead of as a reflection of the quality of service he provided.
Are tips a true measure of the quality of customer service?
If so, what would happen to your business model if the amount you received from the customer relied on tips provided for good customer service?
In a retail model, tipping could be a true indicator of the customer’s satisfaction with the help received by the sales staff. An acquaintance of mine was fuming the other day about her experience in a high end shop, where she received little or no notice from the staff on the sales floor until she found someone at the cash register and complained. After some questions and answers back and forth, a sales person was found who, grudgingly, provided some assistance but had to be pushed to do so. Afterward, my acquaintance wrote a letter complaining of her poor experience and received a letter of apology from the manager, along with a small gift certificate. My acquaintance returned, but grudgingly. The poor initial experience was reinforced by her return visit.
Would tips have resulted in better service? Putting such a plan in place would be difficult, but the possibilities are interesting.
Likewise, customer attentiveness can be overdone. A recent review I read online about another retail outlet skewered an attempt to be playful, interesting and informative by the sales person as being smarmy and coming on too strong. In this case, tips are accepted and encouraged. Some of the skewered behavior has resulted in bigger tips in the past, but is obviously not always welcomed by the customer.
Customer service is not easy but it can be well worth the effort. The key is to pay attention to the customer’s wants and needs.
Could you and your business survive if tipping for service were part of your compensation?