Modern technology has been solving a lot of challenges in the restaurant industry in recent years — including the potentially delicate issue of café tips. Thanks to a new breed of thoughtful, purpose-built point of sale (POS) systems, many café operators have found a seamless and straightforward way to increase customer tipping in their eateries — and boost profits overall.
Here’s an example of how paying for a purchase in a café historically has worked.
Tipping in the 20th Century
Customer gives her coffee order to the barista (cappuccino, double shot, soy milk, extra whip). Customer slides down to the cashier, fishes around for some bills. Cashier returns the change — a few coins — which customer deposits into the all-too-familiar tip jar with a smile.
Perhaps this scenario was acceptable in the past but with an up-to-date POS platform, restaurateurs can easily encourage customers to leave more generous café tips while providing an overall better experience.
The Solution? Payment Device Tipping Prompts
Sleek new POS systems, especially those favored by cafés, often feature payment device tipping prompts as a standard part of the checkout process. Why is this approach so effective? It’s simple: putting the tipping prompt screen in front of the patron visually confronts her with the tipping concept — while avoiding the potential awkwardness for both the worker and customer of having to verbally ask for a tip.
Keep It Simple
Here’s where things get really interesting: tipping prompts actually and successfully encourage customers to leave bigger café tips. Instead of just throwing their extra change into the tip jar, or adding $1 when signing a credit card receipt (or even leaving the tip space blank!), many customers are now accustomed to tapping one of several preprogrammed buttons — to add a tip of, say, 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent — to reward the café for excellent service. Or, the preset options could be in dollar amounts, which can really boost café tips. For example, a customer might default to the lowest option regardless, but adding $1 to a $4 drink is still better than adding 15 percent ($0.60).
This approach removes the need for the customer to do quick mental calculations and keeps the coffee queue moving quickly — crucial during the morning rush or other peak hours.
How to Normalize Tipping
Incorporating tipping prompts also communicates to the customer that including a gratuity is normal, acceptable and appropriate. While the physical tip jar is separate from the POS, the tipping prompt is built right into the payment process, eliminating the sense that gratuities are an add-on or afterthought.
In sum, tipping prompts have brought café gratuities into the 21st century for both businesses and customers. Café operators that want to encourage larger and more consistent tipping should consider POS platforms with the right features to make the process and painless and uniform as possible.