Some of the most amusing signs I’ve seen at cafés and hotels, cleverly asking customers to tip, have included “tipping makes it hurt less”, as though customer service is a painful act; “just put the tip in – see how it feels”, titillating the customer into an act of generosity; and this one in the United States: “all complaints must be written on one-dollar bills”, in a cute request for cash.

When does it make sense to tip?

At least they make their desire obvious. A commonly awkward experience arises when you’re overseas and find yourself unaware of the tipping customs of the country you’re in. Do you tip the porter or not? What about the cab driver? And if you do, do you risk appearing insulting or condescending?

These are the first-world problems that afflict those of us who frequent businesses and destinations at which the people doing the serving are not as affluent as us, although of course that doesn’t mean we actually are affluent, despite being exactly that in comparative terms.

It’s nonetheless the dilemma we face. Or the job we choose, with many people opting for particular professions specifically because of the tips. They may dislike serving people in a restaurant, cleaning their house or pedicuring their feet but “the tips are good”, and so they do it despite earning a measly wage.

That’s probably what compels so many to hand over a handful of spare coins – or a more precise amount like 10 per cent. When we know the person serving us is getting paid incommensurately with the work they’re doing, we feel a need to fill the pay gap.

That is what has emerged in research by Professor Michael Lynn from Cornell University, in a study published recently in the International Journal of Hospitality Management. Professor Lynn analysed tipping across 108 different professions, such as barbers and baristas, and make-up artists and tattoo artists, to name but a few.

The more times a customer deals with the same individual, the less inclined the customer is to continue tipping them.

Using a combination of surveys, which comprised more than 600 respondents, and remuneration data from one of the world’s largest payroll companies, the scholar was not so concerned with identifying the most popular occupations for tipping but more so the factors that make them attractive in the first place.

His research revealed a major factor is “worker subordination”, which is when there’s a level of inferiority associated with the employee, usually due to lower job status. Should the customer feel superior in some way, the employee is more likely to get a tip. A similar scenario plays out when the service is tailored to the customer’s needs or when the exchange of money is with the employee and not, say, via their manager or some form of online payment mechanism.

So, what makes people less likely to tip? Two things. One of those is frequency of contact. The more times a customer deals with the same individual, the less inclined the customer is to continue tipping them. Likewise, if there’s any indication at all the employee has sufficient wealth or, worse, greater wealth than the customer, they can forget about a tip altogether.

As can many folks working in bars and nightclubs who did OK when cash was the predominant form of monetary exchange. In those days they were often told to “keep the change” by partygoers, whereas now a tap of a card is generally the preferred method of payment, and so the volume of tipping has no doubt fallen.

Source: By James Adonis – https://www.theage.com.au/business/small-business/when-is-tipping-necessary-20191107-p538ap.html