Monday, September 18, 2006

A New Tipping Point...

Yesterday, I went to Starbucks and there was a tip jar sitting on the counter next to the cash register. It started me thinking about why you would tip the cashier. Does he deserve a tip for charging the right price? Is he going to make sure the coffee guy makes my drink right? What exactly has he done to earn a tip?

Okay, I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of tip jars and here’s why. It is a thoughtless tip, no different than the spare change you drop into a panhandler’s cup. The panhandler didn’t do anything for the tip, so tipping doesn’t improve anything. It’s not like the tip will encouraging him to take a bath and get a job. Worse yet, it encourages more panhandling. The same is true for tip jars.

Thoughtful tipping on the other hand is a great idea. Thoughtful tipping provides immediate feedback. Thoughtful tipping also provides a reward for good service.

So, what would happen if you tipped your doctor? Not for good medicine, you expect good medicine, but good services: she worked you into a full schedule; the nurse called with your “negative” lab results; your appointment started on time; you didn’t feel rushed. You name it, whatever it is that would make you say to your friend, “I had a great visit with my doctor! It was so good, I tipped her five dollars.”

If only a few people tipped their doctors, I suspect doctors wouldn’t take the money. A few dollars isn’t enough to persuade someone to subject themselves to that kind of immediate, possibly negative feedback. But what if everyone tipped their doctors? If your doctor sees 30 patients a day and they each tipped her five dollars, she would earn an extra $150 a day; that’s $38,000 a year.

More importantly, your doctor would get immediate feedback. She would know if she was meeting the expectations of her patients and could use that feedback at the end of the day or even between patients to improve her performance.

Would you work harder to deliver better service if you could earn an extra $38,000? I’ll bet you a dollar, no make that five dollars, that your doctor would too.

Take care…

John

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