Fancy making a mint? Try handing out some mints.

Let us backtrack. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found waiters increased their tips by 23% just by offering their customers mints after the meal.

What relevance does this have for customer service for online businesses?

Let’s take a look at the experiment and explore it a little further.

Making a mint

In the study, researchers tested the effects mints had against a control group (where no mints were given) in order to measure their effectiveness in increasing tips.

The first group studied had waiters giving mints along with the check, making no mention of the mints themselves. This increased tips by around 3% against the control group.

The second group had waiters bring out two mints by hand (separate from the check), and they mentioned them to the table (ie, “Would anyone like some mints before they leave?”). This saw tips increase by about 14% against the control group.

The last group had the most dramatic result. They had waiters bring out the check first along with a few mints. A short time afterward, the waiter came back with another set of mints, and let customers know that they had brought out more mints, in case they wanted another. This saw a 21% increase in tips versus the control group.

Interesting. So how can this study be applied to customer service for online businesses?

Personalisation

In the last test, the only difference was personalisation – the waiter brought out the second mints after some time had passed and showed genuine concern for the customer “I thought you might like more mints….”

It was the perception the waiter had gone out of his or her way to ensure the  customer satisfaction.

It’s difficult for online businesses to hand out mints. But a similar follow up freebie – perhaps free product training, a free widget or guide or a first time buyer bonus can have the same effect.

It doesn’t have to be anything grand – after all, mints were responsible for the large tip increase.

The aim is to leave your customer on a high note with the clear impression their time and money on your business was spent wisely.



Restaurateurs are known to be wee bit snippy about online reviews.

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The reply function on Trip Advisor has made for some entertaining back and forth spars, with customers complaining of poor restaurant and hotel experiences.

Just look at the restaurant who fined one couple £100 for describing their hotel as a “rotten stinking hovel.”

It’s somewhat understandable. Restauranteurs pour their heart and soul into their business working 14 hours a day, only for some sniffy customer to go online and say their bread roll was too hard.

Which is why a new stance from New York chef and restaurateur Frank Prisinzano is particularly admirable – he has began to post critical reviews of his own restaurants on Instagram.

Honest reviews

Prisinzano leaves what he calls “honest reviews’ on his instagram page every time he dines in one of his four NYC eateries.

Recent snippets include “The pizza was too dry, flat and wafery. WTF??” and “Chicken parm was a hair dry slightly overcooked on the edges because it wasn’t covered in sauce before it went under the broiler” and “ The arugula is being dressed too much and sloppily laid on the plate.”

It’s a bold stance and perhaps PR genius. Prisinzano has gained media attention from the move as well as a reputation as a perfectionist. Customers who dine in his restaurants can rest assured their meals are being adhered to the highest standard.

But what about his poor staff? Mistakes happen, and many Prisinzano points out on his reviews are small ones. Picking on minor niggles from staff who are literally hunched over a hot stove for 10 hours a day can’t be good for morale.

Prisinzano’s response was to emphasise his staff are like his “sons and daughters.” He told firstwefeast.com, “My people have been with me for many many years, most over 10 years. I’m sure they look at this the same way they do when I do it in person—me trying to make us and them better cooks, chefs, waiters, managers etc… I do not rule with fear, I rule with love and constructive criticism. It’s not a public humiliation, it’s us doing what we always do for all to see.”

Transparency

Which is perhaps why Prisinzano is able to carry out this particular experiment; he has a loyal team of staff who trust his motives.

We always encourage transparency in the restaurant industry; it sure makes a nice change from the defensive Tripadvisor sniping.

But if you do decide to follow post negative reviews of your restaurant, we suggest you follow Prisinzano’s lead and it keep it polite and to the point and make sure your staff know they have their best interests at heart.

Don’t substitute headlines for the support and morale of your team.



What does your Back to the Future II style vision of the future feature? Electric cars which drive themselves? Floating hoverboards? Pizzas that top themselves just by reading your mind?

The third one may not be that far off. Pizza Hut have announced they are launching a digital menu that prepares orders just by reading their customers minds.

Subconscious menu

The pizza chain have partnered with eye tracking tech company Tobii Technology to develop the “Subconscious Menu,” which will roll out in refurbished restaurants across the U.K.

The Subconscious Menu allows customers to order without speaking by tracking eye movement. In just 2.5 seconds, the menu collects data on where customers’ eyes focus and calculates which of the 4,896 possible ingredient combinations will fulfill their cravings.

In tests, the Subconscious Menu has a 98 percent success rate. If customers don’t like the menu’s recommendation, they can always restart the process or order the old-fashioned way.

“This year we’ve redesigned restaurants up and down the country and launched a brand new menu with lots tasty new options. But we don’t just want to stop there,” Kathryn Austin, Pizza Hut’s head of marketing, said in a statement. “We wanted to try a few ideas on the traditional menu format and we’re delighted to have developed the world’s first Subconscious Menu.”

Skeptical

Call us skeptical, but we’re a little cynical. Pizza Hut have yet to confirm a timeline for when the subconscious menu will be launched. And when you consider the pizza chain has suffered eight straight quarters of same-store sales declines, we think they may be grabbing at publicity straws in order to boost their profile.

A floating hoverboard though. Now that we can still believe in.



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What’s the difference between the two photos listed above?

One shows a left breast, the other is a right t……

A comment made by UKIP leader Nigel Farage on a radio show has caused an uproar and reopened the debate about the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public places.

In case you have been living under a rock the last few days, Farage had commented on a news story regarding a woman breastfeeding her child in the restaurant of upmarket London hotel Claridge’s who was asked to cover up by a member of staff.

When questioned on the subject, Farage suggested mothers should “perhaps sit in the corner” when they breastfeed their child in restaurants.

“It’s not an issue that I get terribly hung up about,” he said. “But I know particularly people of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it.”

Archaic

Farage’s comments, and the original story, have dominated the headlines over the weekend, with breastfeeding mothers even staging a “nurse-in” outside Claridge’s on Saturday afternoon.

Politicians and women’s groups have condemned Claridge’s action and Farage’s comments as “archaic” and said women shouldn’t feel guilty about breastfeeding their child in public.

“It’s depressing that when there are such well-documented benefits of breastfeeding, officious policies like this make new mums feel uncomfortable for doing nothing more than feeding their baby,” Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said.

Support

Here at Simple ERB, we fully support breastfeeding mothers and believe if other diners have a problem with it they should simply get used to it.

The health benefits of breastfeeding children are plentiful and we think it would be a real shame if mothers began to feel more embarrassed about breastfeeding, particularly as the NHS has campaigned for so long to make it inclusive.

As for Farage, we can’t help but echo the many internet commenters who suggest he sit in a corner with a bag over his head – after all, some people might feel awkward and embarrassed by him.



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