The Customer Experience Series: But They’re Just After Dinner Mints!

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There’s a great 2002 study on manipulating the customer experience that was published in The Journal of Applied Social Psychology detailing how something as small as an after dinner mint can be used to dramatically increase a waiter’s tips. For those of you not wanting to read the entire study (I don’t blame you), here are the highlights:

Four groups of diners were studied over a period of time. The first group of diners got no mints with their check.

The second group had the waiters quietly including mints with the check. This grew tips by 3% over the no mints group.

The third group had waiters bring out two mints per person by hand separate from the check and then mention, “Would anybody like some mints before they leave?” This grew tips by 14%.

The final group had waiters bring out the check along with a few additional mints. A short time later the waiter would come back with more mints, letting the customers know they had brought out some more mints just in case they wanted the extras. For this group, waiters saw an increase of 23% in tips over the no-mints group.

Seriously? But, They’re Just After Dinner Mints!

Think about the impact to the customer experience because of after dinner mints: Is there an application for your business? This truly contrived follow-up after the sale – of simply giving out a few extra mints and saying, “Hey, look at me, look what I just did” – appeared as genuine to the customer and resulted in a substantial increase in server tips.

This act worked, because it created a connection with customers as the waiters appeared to be going above and beyond. So the challenge is where in your business can you appear to be going above and beyond? Where can you replicate something as simple as mints that would make people want to give a tip that’s 23% higher than they normally would?

Since everyone’s business is a little different, I, of course, don’t have the answer. But, here’s a hint: Your frontline employees just might. All you have to do is ask them!

Next up in the series: Oops, We Screwed The Pooch. Now What?

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Why Does Good Customer Service Matter?)
best customer service book ever written

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at