Service Design Journal : Gratuity

Sep.29.19




Unless they are wealthy enough to pay a large tip, all customers ponder about how much is good enough before leaving the restaurant. Some of them have unpleasant episodes related to a tip; for example, a server chasing them and agressively complaining about the tip even after they left the restaurant.

My hometime is S.Korea where people do not pay any tips. After moving to NYC, I had trouble getting used to the custom of tipping. In addition, I am curious about how tips effect the quality of service. Does the tip indeed make the service better? I believe this “custom” results from the failure of the incentives system by restaurants.
From the perspective of the customers, tips bothers them. When making an order, they cannot anticipate how much they should pay. Moreover, they have to spend time to evaluate the service and calculate tips. Contrastly, the restaurant owners appreciate to a tip culture. Their responsibility for paying enough for the employees is shifted onto the customer. Otherwise, they can blame the employees, telling them that their poor service makes themselves underpaid.

According to the study of the practice in America, tipping is often discriminatory or arbitrary: “servers receive different levels of gratuity based on factors such as age, sex, race, hair color and even breast size, and the size of the gratuity is found to be only very weakly related to the quality of service.” ("Should Tipping be Banned?". freakonomics.com. June 3, 2013. Retrieved July 21, 2017) 

To my mind, it is ideal to discourage the customer from giving tips and making the owners raise the minimum wage. However, if it is not realistic, I would suggest changing this custom. The key points are how to measure the service quality and distribute the bonus fairly. First, the government may as well fix the tip rate at an appropriate level. Then, the restaurant let the customers report only when they have a poor service. While it is hard to measure how great the service is, people can easily recognize how bad service they have. Depending on the complaint reports they have, the tips will be distributed to the servers on payday. As a result, the servers will be trying to provide a quailty service and the user will save their time and money at the restaurant.