Do you remember the days of “service with a smile” and “the customer is always right”? The days when companies went out of their way to assure customer satisfaction out of pride for their trade and the well-known fact that a happy customer is a returning customer? Those days seem long gone now, don’t they? It appears now that if you want that kind of service you have to pay for it – or do you? This brings me to the subject of ‘tipping’ – paying for service!
Every country you visit has a different etiquette when it comes to whom to tip, how much to tip and when it would be downright rude to offer a tip. In South Africa the tourism, hospitality and service industries often employ people from previously disadvantaged areas within the local community, many of whom do not earn a large basic salary and therefore rely on tips from customers in order to survive financially, but should it be automatic or for a service rendered?
While most people tip at restaurants, many people are confused about how much they should fork out for other services – or whether they should tip at all. Tipping, and determining how much to tip, depends on several factors including the quality, frequency and nature of the service rendered. According to Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute, customers should also consider the “length and strength” of their relationship with the service provider.
When should you, if at all, tip a petrol attendant for example? Well, firstly, I feel they get paid to do a job of work – to put petrol in your car. Now, if they wash your windscreen, does that warrant a tip, or is it part of their job? If the attendant asks if they can check your oil does that warrant a tip?
To keep their job they have to offer better service than the petrol station down the road as they offer the same product at the same price.
In certain states in America for example, full service is provided to every customer at the petrol pump. But, regardless of how friendly and helpful your attendant may be, tipping authorities in US agree that no tip is necessary.
Have you ever tipped the paint salesperson at the hardware store for mixing your paint, or cutting a key? Absolutely not – that’s what they are there for – it’s their job!
One of my favourite discussions revolves around car guards. Firstly, the thought of a “Car Guard” should be the image of a WWF wrestler, or Eastern Block weight lifter, yet alas not; in my local shopping centre most of them look too frail or under-nourished to safeguard my car! I personally tip them out of sympathy – not because they have ‘guarded’ my car; I cannot imagine what they would do if a would-be car thief approached them!
However I am very impressed with a local supermarket in Durban North, who’s ‘parking attendant’ wears a bib stating ‘No tip necessary’ with the store’s name and logo prominently displayed on the bib. He gets paid by the store to watch your car and return trolleys to the store, yet the customer sees it as a free ‘car-guard’.
Back to the hardware store, where recently I purchased a drum of paint, which was carried to my car; when I offered the young man a tip he politely refused stating that it was all part of the service! (I will keep supporting that store!).
When you’re at the airport however, you really need to ensure that you keep baggage handlers on your good side. If you are in strange country, you could find yourself in the wrong terminal so don’t skimp on tips here, as your luggage is worth a lot more than a ‘tip’!
Another phrase which is often used as a cliché, ‘its all part of the Service’; but is it really? As an avid cook and foodie, over the years I have developed a ‘relationship’ with my butcher. Now everyone pays the same price for their meat here, and yes, it costs a little more than the supermarket, yet very few customers ask the Butcher for recipe ideas, suggestions for your next Braai (barbeque) or dinner party; yet this particular Butcher could assist you in making your next gastronomic occasion an event to remember, and it’s All part of the Service.
So, we can discuss the pros and cons of ‘Tipping” and ‘Paying for Service’ until the proverbial cows come home; however my take is fairly simple. If I feel I have received Excellent Service I will reward that Service, be it a few coins for a Parking Attendant, or a bunch of flowers for the Nurse at the clinic, as rewards do not have to be financial! Like my Butcher, I reward him by going back – time and again. I believe that if a business exceeds in its service levels that business will do well, and in turn pay its employees well, otherwise they will lose good people to their opposition, who in turn will grow and succeed!
It is now time to up your game and start delivering Excellent Service in all facets of your business if you want my business!