Is it Time for a Rude Tax on Customers?

A recent article in “Inside Retail” caught my eye and I wanted to share my thoughts. The article “Spanish Café adds “rude tax” for customers who don’t say please: Could it work in Australia?” Click here if you want to read the article.

When customers order their coffee there is a reducing price system, depending on your manners. For no please the price is $7.37, for a please, it’s $4.42 and for a good morning and please it’s a low price of just $1.92. According to the cafe owner when a sign was put in the window with this price system it has made all the difference. “People are now super polite in all matters and it has greatly improved daily life.”

A similar process was introduced a while ago by a café south of Wollongong with the main focus to put a smile on customer’s faces when they came into the café.

Now I’m a big fan of making people smile when they come in as this is a sure sign you have made an impression and created a positive experience for that particular customer. Providing these signs and pricing structure is used in a fun way to create a positive experience then go for it. I also don’t enjoy serving customers who are rude or don’t have manners, however, unfortunate that it is, we are in the customer service business and our goal is to serve customers to the best of our ability even if they are grumpy. I think charging them more may lead to even more grumpiness!!

We have to be mindful of putting signs up as they can certainly be taken the wrong way and just annoy customers who may not come back. A business at Brisbane airport installed a sign saying “Customer on mobile phones won’t be served”. This one is very risky, as it can easily alienate customers. I know it’s not pleasant and not easy serving customers who are talking on their mobile phone, but again I’ll reiterate, we are in the service business.

In the perfect world customers would always be pleasant and have manners but that is not going to happen. My advice is to deal with these difficult customers politely and efficiently so they can get on with their bad day and I’ll serve the next 100 wonderful customers.

My last point is that we have to be careful mandating what our customers “must” do, as I said we run the risk of annoying them and they can easily go somewhere else. However, we can mandate what our team do when they serve customers and reacting to a customer’s rudeness is a slippery slope to a very negative experience. As I said earlier, get them in and out quickly and politely.

I’ll finish off by sharing a sign I read in a store recently.

Now this one had the opposite effect for me, I felt no sympathy for the owner whatsoever. The store, which sells jewellery, would have to be one that most customers want to try things on, look at them and compare etc. I understand the owner wasn’t keen on providing this level of service and the downturn in business is probably what they deserved.

The moral for today – please be careful with signage and make sure it doesn’t offend or put customers off. Also please make sure your staffs are being the best they can be at smiling and welcoming your valuable customers.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.

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