Tips. Tipping. Customer service.

Tipping, at one time, was an act of gratitude for a job well done, of going beyond the call of duty.  You got tips when you did a good job.  Today, people expect to be tipped simply because they breathe. Recently, I had 3 encounters with service people…one that was extraordinary and two that were even less than mediocre. The art of customer service is a skill that way too often is lacking.
Let me begin with the excellent server provider because the experience totally shocked me. I travel a lot. Sometimes I rent cars; sometimes I take taxis; sometimes when staying in Manhattan I take buses, and on occasion, depending on the location and time of day, I take a shuttle to/from the airport.

Customer Service.

I was in Anaheim for business and arrived at 5pm, in the middle of rush hour. Because of the heavy Southern California traffic at that time of day, I chose not to rent a car, and instead, I secured a Super Shuttle. Quite honestly, the service is most often poor and the driving worse, but sometimes it is the most convenient and best value depending on the location and time of day. Right from the beginning the shuttle driver was nice and friendly, but he took it a step further. This man entertained and engaged the passengers with a game of trivia-type jokes. He was not intrusive, just friendly, and before I knew it, I was at my hotel. I don’t recall ever tipping a shuttle driver as much as I tipped him. I did it because he gave a little extra and provided excellent customer service.
My next encounter this week involved a NY taxi driver who, while not rude or disrespectful, did nothing that I felt warranted a tip. He was unwilling to assist me with my bags, drove as if he was in a race for his life (even though I asked that he slow down), and said not even a hello during the entire trip. So when I arrived at my destination I paid his stated fee and got out of the cab. As I walked away, I heard him shout out in his native tongue, “no tip?” I thought of how brazen it was of him to even remotely think that he deserved a tip.
My third encounter this week was at a Sausalito restaurant that many folks rave about. All I can say is they will not see me again. The restaurant was on the water and the doors were all open on this 55 degree windy and foggy afternoon. The food was not extraordinary, it was okay, but what stood out was the poor service. First we called for a server twice in 15-minutes. During our meal no one checked on us to see if everything was okay, or even to ask if we wanted anything else. When I did request a second beverage it took 20-minutes, and that was only after I got up and asked the hostess for help. Had it not been for the fact that we had one check among us, I would certainly not left a tip. Our server truly got more than he deserved, although I would bet he complained to his coworkers that he only got a 17 percent tip. Had it been strictly up to me, he would have gotten no more than perhaps, 50 cents.

In the Business of Serving.

As a lawyer, I go out of my way to give my clients everything they expect—and then some! I spend extra time reviewing agreements to make sure they know what they are agreeing to; I hold their hand and walk them through the process of preparing specimens for their trademark applications to ensure that their Statement of Use is accepted; I answer every question they pose and help them identify questions they never thought to ask. I go that extra mile because I believe good service is important.
We live in such an entitled society where everyone wants something for nothing. Gone are the days when tips were earned for doing a great job, for going the extra mile. Even establishments like Starbucks, for example, have a tip jar by the register, even though it often takes them forever to serve one customer. I truly am old school in that I believe, as John Houseman once said, “you earn it.”
What are your thoughts about tipping and about doing a good job in general? Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward. Find me on my Facebook Law Fan Page, Twitter Law Page, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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