What’s The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter?

…your 11 step expert guide

American diners are a fickle bunch. We love going out to eat but when the check comes we don’t know what to do. How much should we tip? Is it 15%, 18%, 20% or more?

What's The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter

It’s gotten so bad that many restaurant chains now place a “tip guide” on the bottom of their checks that list the recommended tip in percentage and dollar amounts. Yes, this makes it easier to figure out the totals but what do we base these amounts on?

Well it depends.  It depends on:

1.      Did the waiter greet you with a warm sincere smile?

2.      Did the waiter make you feel welcome?

3.      Did the waiter inform you of the various possibilities of food substitutions for your meal?

4.      Did the waiter make your children feel important and not like a nuisance?

5.      Did the waiter get your order correct and present it to you as advertised? (more…)

How Bed Bath & Beyond Cares for its Customers and Drives Revenue Too

While walking into my local Bed Bath & Beyond store last week I was preoccupied with the thoughts of an upcoming major event; my daughter going away to college. A milestone, a traumatic event, a “relief”…

Bed Bath & Beyond Cares for its Customers

We had just completed all the college applications, financial aid packages, decisions on which school to choose, and dorm type. All that’s left is for her to enjoy her “last summer” as a high school student before the big jump to college, and the mountain of “stuff” we’ll have to pack and get ready for the dorm. I’m not looking forward to that part either…

Then it happened…

On a revolving rack in an auspicious location I noticed a detailed list of “what to bring to college”. There, out in the open, is exactly what we were looking for, a systematic guide of what, and what not, to bring to school.

The individual listings were classified by school with most of the major colleges and universities in New Jersey represented. This was my nirvana!

It also included the specific school address and directions, school contact and housing information and a transportation map. Great!

No longer would we have to guess if we were allowed to bring a coffee maker to her school, it was listed right there. There was no question if a refrigerator would be provided, that’s mentioned there too. And, all the 100’s of miscellaneous items needed; laundry bag, underbed storage cases, clothes hangers, extension cords, etc. were clearly listed with a check off box.

This was our must-have packing for school document – or as Bed Bath & Beyond called it, their “Campus Ready” list. This is genius!

Why is it genius? Because (more…)

Today’s Generation Just Can’t Give Good Service, Agree?

How can “kids” brought up with immediate access to information and short attention spans provide the service experience our “older” generation expects? Good question…

Today's Generation Just Can't Give Good Service

I remember watching old black and white movies where the “old guys”, sitting in front of the barber shop, would complain about the kids of today not having the same respect for others or the work ethic as they did. And they may, or may not, be right. But I bet that every generation has said the same about the up and coming kids.

It happens with the style of clothes and music too…remember your parents complaining about your rock-&-roll music?

So, is it realistic that those accustomed to “fine dining” or the steps-of-service from high-end retailers should expect the same from people who have never experienced this same level of service? Probably not…

Today’s society has changed in many ways; here are some examples: (more…)

3 Reasons Why I’ll Never Insult You and Install a Chatbot On My Blog

…I have too much respect for you to do that

Technology is your friend. You have an obligation to your readers to use every possible means to interact with them or, what are you afraid of? These are some of the comments I’ve received when I asked a few friends if I should put a chatbot on my blog.

Install a Chatbot On My Blog

In case you don’t know, a “chatbot” is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

“It will increase your reader engagement”. “People will think you are actually there typing answers to them”. “It keeps readers on your blog longer, you should add one”.

Listen, being in the customer service industry all these years, and training countless employees in better and more effective ways to interact with our customers, has prevented me from trying to “stimulate conversation with human users”. What the heck does that mean?

Here are my 3 reasons why I’ll never put a chatbot on my blog. (more…)

Where’s The Nearest Bookstore & Why That’s Important

...a restaurant story adapted from my book

Do you know the other businesses around your restaurant or hotel?  Are you one of those that just drive straight from your home to work without noticing what’s around you?  If so then snap out of it!

Where’s The Nearest Bookstore?

You need to be a fountain of knowledge… and I don’t mean about the menu.

If your guest at table 14 was interested in buying a gift for a friend of theirs and asked you if you knew where the nearest bookstore or men’s clothing store was, could you steer them in the right direction?  Or would you say “I’m not from around here, sorry”.

If so, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Would you give that same lame excuse to one of your friends?  Or to your grandma?  Heck no!  You would go out of your way to find the answer.  You would ask someone else, get out the telephone book or of course get on the internet, plug in your zip code and search through countless results to pick the best store nearest you.

Would you do this for the lady at table 14?  Now I realize it’s not practical to expect you to go searching the web during your shift to help your guest, but what if you did?  What if you didn’t know where the nearest book store was but you DID want to help your guest?

Maybe you could tell your manager about this and get permission to do just that, search the web.  After all, you are doing your best to satisfy the needs of your customer right?

Use your phone or the nearest office computer but do it fast!  Plug in the info, get the answer and rush back to your table and say… (more…)

What’s Your Idea of Perfect Service?

What do your customers expect from you? Do you live up to their expectations or only reach your own perceived “ceiling” of service? Are you “good enough”? Maybe. But good enough for whom?

Perfect Service

Once we believe we have little to learn about the needs of our customer we no longer deserve their business – and shouldn’t expect it.

Why should someone do business with you?

  • Is it because you are in their neighborhood? Not good enough…
  • Is it because you keep up with the latest trends? Not important enough…
  • Is it because you run weekly specials or offer discount coupons? You’re not showing value…
  • Is it because your business is “the best”? Not realistic…

If customers should do business with you because “you are the best”, what makes you the best?

No business is perfect, we all make mistakes. Some customers may forgive a slight misstep in service or delay in an order being processed.

Others won’t. They expect perfection. But is that possible?

Should you, we, expect to be perfect? Why would the customer? They “must realize” that mistakes happen, right?

Here’s My Idea of “Perfect Service”
(more…)

In Celebration of Customer Loyalty Month, Here’s Some “Anti-United Airlines” Stories

...lets highlight some great examples of service

April is Customer Loyalty Month. To celebrate, I share a few examples of great service that were submitted by the loyal readers of this blog. It’s nice to read something positive – aren’t we all getting tired of that United Airlines story?

Celebration of Customer Loyalty Month

Lindsey Hartig, Marketing Manager at Martin Resorts on California’s Central Coast, shares this story…

“At Pismo Lighthouse Suites, a son collected sand dollars for his dad since his dad couldn’t be with him on his trip. Unfortunately, he left them in the suite when he checked out and housekeeping threw away. The boy was very upset when he told his father he left them and the father called the hotel just to see if we had them.

Matt, a Guest Services Supervisor, took the call and said he would go to the beach and collect some for them and then mail them. Matt went to Morro Bay on his day off and collected a bunch, including the ‘dime sized’ one the son had found. They were shipped off the next day.”

Helene Wein, Director, Global Accounts at HelmsBriscoe, shares this story…

“Just got back from a work trip. Wish I would have gotten the name of the attendant, it happened so fast, and I was so impressed. Having just come from our group meeting at the restaurant, we had walked upstairs to attend an after dinner reception. I hadn’t gotten but just a few feet from the door and I started sneezing. Not usually a big deal, I sneeze in threes. (more…)

Talk About Giving Someone The Suit Off Your Back!

...yes, he really did this.

Here’s one of the best examples of how to create customer loyalty that I have ever seen. It happened while I was working at the Hilton Newark Airport Hotel in 2003.

Giving Someone The Suit Off Your Back

We had a fantastic staff, happy employees and a robust business. One day there was a buzz that traveled all around the hotel. “Did you hear what happened?” “You’re kidding, I don’t believe it.” “When did that happen?” “He really did THAT?”

We had a great front desk employee, Alberto. Always smiling, he knew the hotel like the back of his hand and the guests loved him. A model employee.

One Sunday evening, a guest checked in and, after emptying his luggage, realized that he had forgotten his suit. That’s bad enough, but the story gets worse. The next day, Monday, he had a job interview scheduled at 10am. He quickly began to panic, knowing he would never be able to go to the interview without a suit on. He was confident he would miss his chance at this job, the job he flew 1000 miles for. He called down to the desk hoping to find out if there was a late night department store in the area where he could purchase a suit, ANY suit.

Realizing the dire circumstance of this guest, Alberto sprang into action. (more…)

Here’s How to Continually Give Great Service Even After 39 Years

Following in his father’s footsteps as a baker, and at the age of 23, Armando Leyva and his wife Lorely, started their own bakery business.  Still a novice to the bakery world, Armando leaned on his father’s many years of experience as a bread master and, much to his surprise, realized the bakery was much more than just bread. Soon he and his wife would discover the many talents needed to operate a successful business. There was much to learn.

Continually Give Great Service

The business’s staple, bread, was the start then pastries and desserts came next. Finally, special occasion cakes and the personalized decorations that came with it rounded out the core products they so willingly shared with their customers.

The neighborhood bakery, named La Gran Via Bakery, became the place to be when in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn NY.

Fast forward 39 years and the business is now operated by the next generation of Leyvas, Royd and Betsy.

During a trip last month to Brooklyn, my hometown, my wife suggested we stop off at her “favorite Spanish bakery” to get some treats not available in my neighborhood. How could I resist?

As we entered the store my senses were quickly met with the aroma of fresh pastry, chocolate and strong coffee. Then a friendly voice came from behind the counter, “That’s ok, that’s ok, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that”.

As I turned around I saw (more…)

How a Good Ticket Agent is the Key to a Successful Day

Life is stressful. The societal pressures of work, providing for your family, body image, social media, etc. are bad enough; the last thing you need early in the morning is a grumpy ticket agent to start your day off on a miserable note. Here’s my story…

the Key to a Successful Day

I haven’t taken the train into New York City, from my home in New Jersey, in roughly 10 years. I sure don’t miss the crowds or the unfriendly ticket agents. Guess dealing with fellow commuters gets to them too. Today was to be different…

On the New Jersey Transit trains there are blue-suited attendants, ticket agents, who monitor the passengers to ensure they have a valid ticket to ride the train. One by one they stop by each seat and collect the ticket, punch a hole in it and move on to the next passenger.

This is what you usually hear…

“Tickets, get your tickets out”. “Have your tickets ready” or some similar phrase.

Never a please, or hello and definitely not a good morning.

Sliding into my seat I waited patiently for the “floor show” to begin. That’s what I used to call the banter between the agent and hapless passenger.

“Hey, good morning, thanks. Have a great day”. “Morning, how are you doing today?” “Hello, may I have your ticket please?” “Great, thanks and have a wonderful day”.

I couldn’t believe my ears. (more…)