I would imagine it is common practice to tip a waiter or waitress, bellman, valet parking attendants as well as airport shuttle and Taxi drivers. Most do a very good job in providing a service that we need, are paid an hourly wage and make additional money if not the majority of their money from gratuities and tips.

As many of you know, I travel all over globe from airport to cities for speaking engagements and I usually take a taxi to reach my final destination. I have become intrigued at the lack of engagement particularly on the part of taxi drivers. In some of my trips not a single word was spoken by the taxi drive to me.

I always try to be the first one to strike up a casual conversation about the city, weather, the vehicle, etc. with the driver. I have found that many just provide short one word answers, nod or grunt. I wonder why they choose to not have a conversation with me? Isn’t is a great opportunity to provide helpful information, unusual insight about the area, or just pass the time?

In the last few months, my speaking and traveling schedule has been busy so I decided to conduct my own informal survey regarding the engagement of taxi drivers. My objective was to see how many taxi drivers would have a casual conversation with me. First, I would wait to see if the driver initiates the conversation or was it me who engaged the driver first. Second, did the driver just answer my questions or did they engage in helpful conversation to try to make my trip more enjoyable. Third, did the taxi driver express a thank you at the end. Tipping the driver was based on the interaction I received. The more interaction and engagement by the driver the bigger the tip I provided. If there was absolutely no interaction or conversation I did not provide a tip and just paid the fare. The informal survey was based on 20 taxi trips. You might be surprised at the results.

  • Only 3 of the 20 drivers engaged in some kind of friendly conversation or interaction
  • 13 out of the 20 drivers never spoke one word to me
  • 7 drivers just answered a few of my questions but never extended the conversation
  • 15 never even thanked me for being a customer after I paid the fare.
  • 8 did not receive any tips or gratuity other than the fare

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My over impression was that the majority of the drivers (13) were not concerned one bit in engaging a conversation with me. It appeared their sole objective was to get me from point A to point B and that was it. Don’t get me wrong. I was very thankful and grateful that they were able to get me to my destinations promptly and safely. But isn’t that their job? In my opinion, if they want to receive a tip they needed to earn it. It was there choice to choose to engage with me, even just a little or not. Those that did were highly compensated and those who did not were not. Perhaps those particular drivers who did not receive a tip at all didn’t even care. By the look on some of their faces they automatically expected a tip from me and were a little disappointed. Two drivers seemed quite annoyed.

In all cases where I did not provide a tip, I shared a few comments to the driver providing constructive feedback on my trip and how I usually and gladly would have given you a tip if you had just engaged or had some kind of interaction with me. I suggested they try it the next time with their customers.

Some employees get it and some don’t. Do those who are in tipped positions take tipping for granted? Do they blame the customer for being cheap with no regard to looking at themselves and evaluate what they did to earn it? I have received some amazing service from tipped employees during my travels and the results have always been me giving them a very generous tip.

Five Simple Engagement Tips:

1. Extend a simple greeting to your customers.

2. Ask how their day is going.

3. Talk about the weather, sporting events or local activities.

4. Acknowledge their children or pets and engage them if possible.

5. Always thank your customers for visiting, shopping or asking questions.

The point I am making here is that just by simply engaging in a conversation with a customer will help you connect emotionally with them and provide a better customer experience. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a tipped position or not.

However, imagine if the majority of your salary and wages were based on receiving tips. Could you or your fellow team members survive? Don’t take the engagement process with your customers for granted. Simply engage in a conversations with your customers will result in a Magical Customer Experience!