Georgina Guedes

Take the tip, already

2013-06-13 13:24

Georgina Guedes

Yesterday, I drove into a petrol station in rush hour. I needed petrol and I needed to get home. A smiling attendant ushered me to his pump, asked if he could clean my windscreen and generally made the experience pleasant and efficient.

I had no cash, so I was going to pay with my debit card, but when I asked the attendant if I could add a tip to my bill, he said that it was only allowed at the machine in the shop. Although I was in a rush, I got out of my car to pay the tip, because I believe in rewarding good service.

This is something I believe in quite strongly. The people who work for service companies - waiters, petrol attendants, security guards - make or break my experience of the brand. While it's obviously up to the company to reward them for their good work as well, I believe that the added incentive of a good tip at the moment of good service goes a long way to perpetuating the positive cycle.

Making tipping difficult

I am increasingly encountering systems that make it more difficult, rather than less, for me to tip brand representatives. One petrol station has scrapped the debit card tipping system because unscrupulous attendants were taking service to the next level by adding on their own tips to the bill. The petrol station that I visited yesterday is not alone in making it difficult for drivers to tip – I've experienced the problem elsewhere.

I'm not interested in hearing an excuse about the way that the technology works - it works fine at some petrol stations, so if it were important enough to the petrol station owner or manager, it could be achieved. This for me is what it boils down to - owners and managers need to take care of the entire process of interaction as it affects their staff and their customers.

And if some of your staff are stealing money, punish them or fire them - don't treat the rest of your employees as if they're thieves as well.

When I encounter a bump in the natural flow of commerce - a bump that could be easily addressed if anyone put their minds to it - the fact that it hasn't been addressed is to me an indication that the relevant people don't care about service. And the people who don't care, aren't the ones losing out on tips.

Why we commit to a brand

These days, people still make their decisions about what brands or services they use on convenience. But they are increasingly motivated by wanting to buy from companies whose policies they believe in. This is to do with the products they stock, how they reduce environmental harm, what community upliftment policies they engage in and how they treat their staff.

Most of us, however, don't have the time to investigate these things that we care about thoroughly - we rely simply on the small ways we interact with our brands and service providers. And that's why complicating the seemingly small process of tipping is a bad idea - it makes your customers feel awkward, it takes away their positive experience of using your brand, and it creates a bad impression of your company outlook.

We just want to tip your staff. Let us.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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