Of customer service and “tips” at the corporate hang out
It is common knowledge to every business that their sustainability is dependent on the level of customer satisfaction. As difficult as it is to precisely define customer satisfaction, every customer can feel it when they are satisfied with the level of service provided to them by a business outfit. The term “tips” is usually used to express the act of showing appreciation by a customer to the quality of service provided at public places such as restaurants, bars, coffee shops but to mention a few.
Giving “tips” is as a result of satisfied service received by a customer and openly shows appreciation to the service provider, hence the need for the service provider to do same or better still do more. “Tips” are usually given to the servers i.e. those who serve the food and/or drinks. The act of giving and accepting “tips” is a common practice which does not offend the ethics of the hospitality industry as long as the art is perfectly practiced.
The art of giving open tips is accustomed to the hospitality industry specifically bars, coffee shops, restaurants but to mention a few. Whereas these outfits accept tips openly as a custom to the quality of their service, many other service providers in other industries cannot openly accept “tips”, as it will be perceived as bribery.
However, the art of giving and accepting “tips” in Ghana is blatantly akin to the art of the street beggar. “Tips” are asked for openly, forcefully and/or body and facial expressions shown to point your attention to the demand for a tip. Either ways, the demand for tips in Ghana is made open to defile the art hence making it a necessary demand as part of the services provided.
Every customer deserves quality service from the businesses that they patronize. This quality of service is not determined by the customer but rather the business. When the determined level of quality service is met by the business outfit then the satisfied customer under no compulsion willingly gives a “tip” as an appreciation.
Let’s say a waiter may have satisfactorily served a customer and/or a group of customers at the bar, it took the entire combination of all the staff at the bar to make that single customer and/or group of customers happy. What we see usually in the Ghanaian situation is that such “tips” are always to the sole benefit of the waiter whom it is given to; to the detriment of the other staff.
It is not only bad for a single staff to only enjoy the reward of the entire staff but also a poor way of managing group benefit. In the foregoing paragraphs, I will propose five ways in which the Ghanaian hospitality industry can modernize “tips” to make it a collective benefit of the entire staff of the department so as to enhance customer service.
5 ways to modernize “tips”
- The availability of a “tip” bowl
A “tip” bowl must be conspicuously placed at the counter where customers pay for their drinks and/or food. This will enable happy customers to willingly put in their “tips” without been asked by waiters and/or waitresses. It ensures anonymity, equal and fair services to customers.
It can be embarrassing for a waiter or waitress to ask for a “tip” and be refused, likewise embarrassing to the customer who may not be in the position to give a “tip” on that day. Placing a “tip” bowl takes away all the embarrassment of giving or not giving, how much is given, and how often is given.
The characteristic attitude of many Ghanaian waiters and waitresses who ignorantly pass comments on customers like “they don’t give”, “they give small amounts” and “they give once in a long while” are unfair comments to customers who pratronise their businesses against stiff competition.
- “Tips” must be shared to all staff
“Tips” realised in the bowl must be shared to all staff in the department. Let’s not forget that it take a whole team to make a customer happy. What becomes of the back office staff who works so hard to keep the plates and drinking glasses very clean and hygienic for which reason a customer may be happy and subsequently give a “tip” which ends up with the waiter or waitress undeservedly?
How about the floor and wash room cleaners whose work may have retained customers for the business? Have you considered the chef who cooked that palatable meal? Don’t they deserve a “tip”? How can a happy customer to a restaurant give “tip” to the chef, floor, and washroom cleaners?
A fair practice of “tips” is to ensure that it collected at one point and shared among all staff in the department whose collective efforts goes directly into making a happy customer.
- “Tips” must be shared equally
Not knowing whose effort went directly into making the happy customer who gave the “tip”, the “tips” received must be shared equally among staff. It is team work and therefore no member’s contribution must be underestimated.
When tips are shared equally, staff of the department will collectively be inspired to work as a team and push more for high level customer satisfaction which in turn will increase the profitability and goodwill of the business.
When the cleaners get the same amount of “tip” as others, they will be inspired to put in the very best, same as the waiter or the chef. The motivation of the chef is not so much as to what amount of “tip” received like that of the cleaner and the waiter. The chef’s appreciation of the “tip” is only in direct appreciation to the customers who enjoyed the meal and therefore gave a “tip.”
- “Tips” must be shared regularly
The “tip” bowl must not be the size of a bucket. This will expose the greediness of the business. The “tip” bowl must be small, ordinary and uncovered. It must be emptied regularly leaving behind a few coins and probably a smaller denomination note.
Note that the idea of leaving behind few coins in the “tip” bowl is to give the impression that the staff appreciates even the little “tips” they receive. Exhibiting few coins in the “tip” bowl will not change the minds of customers who want to give appreciable amount of money.
The unimpressive impression that the bigger the “tip” bowls the higher amount of money customers will put in does not apply in the corporate hang out. Customers give what they want to give and not because of the size of the “tip” bowl.
As the “tip” bowl is emptied intermittently, it must not take too long for the amount received to be shared. At the close of working day, how much has been received in “tips” must be accounted for and kept safely at a secured place.
The staff can agree on an ideal time interval to share what is received in the “tips”. However, if more money is received at a shorter time interval, it can be shared earlier than the agreed time frame. The reason to share the “tips” frequently no matter the amount is to enable staff have small amount of monies on them for everyday basic essential needs like transportation, water, mint and what have you.
- “Tips” are not salary
The misconceived notion by some employers in the hospitality industry is that customers give “tips” to waiters and/or waitresses and therefore they are paid badly. Anticipated “tips” is a bad employer perception.
It is the act of those employers who mischievously calculate anticipated “tips” as salary who force their staff into openly asking customers for “tips” and when they are refused or the amount given perceived as too small they whisper insult on customers and their attitude to those customers in the future are different.
It not in doubt that those customers who do not give frequent and big sums of money in “tips” to waiters and waitresses are left unattended to for long and when they are attended to their order takes longer than normal to be served in the corporate hang out. The waiters and waitresses feel that it is their right to be given a “tip” rather than free will of satisfied customers. Such feeling emanates from the meager salaries given to them by their employers under the pretense of “tips” which are not assured.
Good customer service is given. No customer should beg for it with “tips.” In the growing competitive business environment, many businesses will lose customers not only because of poor customer service but also because of employees’ attitude to asking customers for “tips” like beggars in the street. Though the act of giving “tips” is common and somewhat acceptable in the hospitality industry, it must be attended with the decorum and ethics it deserves.
Sad to say that in Ghana, “tips” is not only a thing of the hospitality industry but wildly practiced in other industries including high earning service providers like banks, insurance companies, hospitals and what have you. Should we accept the overbearing attitudes for “tips” by security officers at the corporate car parks? Whichever way you look at it, “tips” are voluntary giving arising from customers’ satisfaction of quality service provided. It’s particularly a thing of the hospitality industry.