Of all the things that waiters/waitresses (henceforth just referred to as “waiters”) could do to increase tips, how important would you place “giving mints” at the end of a meal in terms of effectiveness?
It turns out, you and I probably greatly underestimated the psychological process behind mint-giving.
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers tested the effects that mints had against a control group (where no mints were given) in order to measure their effectiveness in increasing tips.
The results were surprising to say the least.
- The first group studied had waiters giving mints along with the check, making no mention of the mints themselves. This increased tips by around 3% against the control group.
- The second group had waiters bring out two mints by hand (separate from the check), and they mentioned them to the table (ie, “Would anyone like some mints before they leave?”). This saw tips increase by about 14% against the control group.
- The last group had waiters bring out the check first along with a few mints. A short time afterward, the waiter came back with another set of mints, and let customers know that they had brought out more mints, in case they wanted another.
This last test was where waiters saw a 21% increase in tips versus the control group.
At first glance, the last two groups seem very similar: two mints (per-person) were brought out, and the waiter mentioned them.
So, what was different?
In the last test, the only difference was that the waiter brought out the second set of mints after some time had passed, and mentioned that they had done so in case the table would like some more.
Researchers concluded that this seeming genuine concern for the customer (“I thought you might like more mints…”) and the spontaneity of the gesture connected with customers much more than the additional pieces of chocolate mints would imply, even if the waiter did this for every customer.
This is good to know, because it means that it’s applicable to businesses outside of restaurants.
So, how can a business utilize this knowledge?
(Source: See Credits below)
There’s more to this story than the positively-reinforcing gratuity for the waiter.
If we closely look at this scenario, there are 3 essential elements to it:
* Buyer buys a product and/or a service.
* the product or the service is delivered (the waiter could be doing intermediate deliveries too).
* At the end-point of the delivery, the delivery agent is empowered to give away from a range of freebies.
Selecting a freebie appropriate for the occasion and giving it away with finesse and solicitousness are both a matter of training and the employee’s imagination.
It’s easy to see paying attention to this end-of-service experience is a low-hanging fruit in its impact on the overall service experience.
Most self-employed appliance-repair technicians do it in some ways. But mostly overlooked in the organized sector of the industry.
An example from the organized sector:
Class-room training courses usually include hands-on exercises. These are usually very focused and easy enough to be completed within the limited time-slots allotted in the tight course format. A more ambitious course may allow in its format for elaborate projects/case-studies demanding in-depth application of the skills or concepts learned.
Now we get to the ‘mint’.
At the end of the course, the instructor could point out how the projects and their challenge could be further enhanced by interested participants working on their own time outside of the course. And if someone chooses to do so, the instructor could make a time-bound offer of a certain number of free telephonic support calls to help him complete his extended project.
Only imagination limits what could be wrought by the ‘mints’ at the end-point of a delivery.
Credits: The slightly edited extract included in the post is taken from an interesting blog post at https://www.helpscout.net/blog/the-psychology-of-personalization-how-waiters-increased-tips-by-23-percent-without-changing-service/ . Image is from openclipart (waiter shokunin).