The Sunday Mail
Are customers obliged to pay tips after getting a service? The answer is a little conflicted.
Generally, a tip is a form of appreciation given by a customer as a gesture for good service received. One is, however, tempted to ask where this culture of giving tips originated from.
Is it an African or a Western culture? I asked a number of customers and none of them were not sure where it came from, so I had to dig deep and do a bit of research.
My findings revealed that giving a tip is a foreign culture that was borrowed from America and Canada. They normally practice this in restaurants where they give a 20 percent tip. This has, however, spilled to other sectors were every other staff that have a direct encounter with a customer expects to get a tip.
Staff that have a direct interaction with customers are usually the ones at the storm of this tipping debate. This is due to the fact that they are the ones that have a face-to-face encounter with the customer, whether the service is good or when its bad.
Thus, when a customer decides to give a tip, they are the ones that receive these tips at the expense of other back office staff who would have contributed equally to the good service experience by the customer.
This is okay but discriminatory simply because there are other workers who, by the nature of their jobs, cannot have a direct encounter with the customers.
For instance, the guy that maintains the organisation yard tending flowers and lawns so that the physical ambience is catchy to the customer will remain in the doldrums but he plays a part in making sure that the organisation’s environment is presentable.
That guy will probably never get a chance to have a face-to-face contact with the organisation’s customers and the probability of receiving a tip are next to nothing but his official duties enhance the service delivery.
So, is it really necessary to give employees something extra for doing their job? Companies should just pay their workers a decent wage so that it does not put pressure on the employees to ask for extra income in a clandestine manner.
It reminds me of one shop that I usually go to buy lunch, there is this one particular lady that always ask from anyone who cares to be on friendly terms with her to buy her a drink.
She is actually the talk of the area and most people avoid to go to that shop when she is on duty because they are afraid they will be asked to buy her something every time they want to do a personal purchase.
This kind of scenario does not give a good picture about that particular customer service staff in her personal capacity and the organisation. It ends up seeming like soliciting for a tip instead of it being generosity by the customer in appreciation of a good service.
Customers do not have a duty to subsidise the salary of any organisation’s employees but rather tips should be voluntary. Customer service staff should always give their best service despite not getting a tip.
If not kept in check, some customer service staff will end up giving preferential treatment to other customers at the expense of other customers, basing on the number of tips that they receive.
It is also another form of discrimination because it determines the service that customers will get depending on how fat the customers’ pockets are and their ability to give higher tips.
This kind of doing business distorts the type of service that should be given by an organisation because not everyone is able to give a tip but that should not mean that they should be treated any less.
Service provision should be standard because every dollar brought by any customer adds to the numbers in the bank for the organization. Therefore, everyone is important.
In places were customer service staff openly expects gratuity, it causes some level of stress to the customers because their minds are always in an overdrive regarding what to give to the staff once they receive a service.
This is due to the fact that most of the time these customers are probably not so sure how much tip will be expected by the staff. This may push customers away and make them go to organisations that have a strict tipping rule.
Customers must not go out of their way just to please the staff because it may now appear like they are making a double payment: payment for the product as well as payment to be treated better than the rest.
On the other hand, staff that depend heavily on tips are vulnerable to sexual harassment. This is usually the order of the day in places like pubs and bars were drunken men take advantage of these young girls who work in these organisations.
Some of these girls are struggling and they do not have a choice when harassed because all they want is money to eke out a comfortable living.
Some organisations also take advantage of these tips by paying their staff less and hoping the difference will be compensated by tips that they receive from the customers.
This is not so on, organisations must not burden customers by pushing them to pay tips like what the Americans do.
In fact, tips should never determine the quality of service that the customer must encounter. If a customer is happy with a service, is willing to pay a tip and is able to pay that tip without duress, then they can pay any amount of their choice.
Other things being equal, such tips must be collected by one person and be shared among all employees because every employee contributes to the excellent service that deserve a tip in spite of their position!
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461.