Minding Your Own Brand: Do you deserve a tip?

Depending on which definition you use, the word “tips” originally stood for “to insure proper service”, “to insure polite service”, or “to insure prompt service”. These concepts were rooted in the age old idea that individuals should be rewarded based on the level of service they provide.

Bartenders, wait staff, taxi drivers, chambermaids, and many other professions rely on tips to make a living. Many of these jobs are paid an extremely low base pay by the employer and the worker is expected to earn the remainder of their salary through tips. The idea is that the more extraordinary service they provide, the more the customer will compensate them for their effort.

One would assume that the practice of tipping would insure an extraordinary customer experience. The main problem is that these days few people provide even adequate service, yet they still expect the full tip. As customers, we are made to feel guilty leaving a low tip knowing if we don’t tip well, these employees may not make a living wage.

This phenomenon of providing poor service and receiving full reward is not reserved to only tip earning professions.  From the top executives down to the receptionist, the level of service all employees provide to their “customers” (both internal and external) has steadily declined over the past few decades. This decline has increased while the level of wage entitlement has risen. Workers often feel they deserve top level salaries even if they provide mediocre service.

In order to bring back extraordinary service, maybe we should revive the original tips concepts and use them to compensate all employees.  From the top down to the front line employee, we should give everyone the same extremely low salary and let their “customers” both internal and external, determine the remainder of their compensation based on the level of service the worker provides. It would take the reward system away from company politics and puts it back into the hands of the people who know best, their customers. Those who are receiving service from that individual could directly compensate their service provider based on how extraordinary their experience was. This would insure “Proper, Polite and Prompt” service at all levels of an organization.

Unfortunately, having everyone work for tips is not practical but even so it does not mean we all cannot work as if we are being compensated this way. If each of us asked ourselves “Am I providing a level of service that is so extraordinary that someone would want to tip me?”, maybe we would all provide our customers with a better brand experience.

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