North American Bancard Blog

A Guide to Point-of-Sale Tipping Etiquette on EMV Terminals

Posted by Joshua Griffin on

paying a bill at a table Consumers are tipping more than ever these days, but it's not always because they want to. Point-of-sale machines that suggest tip amounts to customers based on what they purchased is facilitating a trend The New York Times calls “tip creep,” where tipping $3 on a $4 cup of coffee isn't unheard of anymore.

No cash to leave a tip? No problem. Today's credit card terminals enable customers to leave a tip not only on full-service dining experiences, but also on everything from purchasing Girl Scout cookies to paying for fast food. Even non-food-related experiences, like retail shopping, could coax out a gratuity if the EMV equipment prompts the purchaser to leave a tip for service.

Tipping on EMV terminals requires strategic navigation. With some services, being able to leave a tip on machines that accept credit cards makes perfect sense. After all, barely 40 percent of Americans regularly carry cash.

However, it should be noted that terminals have prompted gains in tipping, but just because a customer tips doesn't mean they're thrilled with the customer experience. With a salesperson watching a customer as they enter (or don't enter) a tip amount, many customers feel pressured to leave something, even if they don't really want to. Plus, some customers may inadvertently press a tip button, only to dispute the sale later once they get the receipt.

Accepting tips on point-of-sale systems can be good for your employees, but you also want to respect your customers. Her is some tipping etiquette to be aware of along with best practices for customizing EMV-capable credit card terminals to keep everyone happy:

Know Common Tip Expectations

paying a bill at a table To avoid something uncomfortable like prompting a customer to tip 100 percent on a quick service, you should program reasonable tip amounts and percentages into the EMV equipment payment process. That way, customers won't feel swindled, and you can still ensure employees are justly rewarded based on the service they're providing.

To help you, here are some general tipping guidelines, as recommended by Business Insider:

  • At sit-down restaurants, tip servers 15 to 20 percent

  • At buffets, tip servers who help with drinks and plate removal 10 percent

  • At bars, tip bartenders $1 per drink, or 15 percent of the bar tab

  • At valet parking, tip $2 to $5 per vehicle

  • At the dry cleaners or laundry service, tip $3 to $5, depending on the size of the wash

  • At fast-casual restaurants, tip up to $2

  • For room service, tip at least $5

  • Tip 15 to 20 percent for taxi drivers, hair stylists, dog groomers, beauty technicians and masseuses

Some types of businesses give customers the option to tip, though it is customarily not expected. These include carryout/takeout restaurants, where a tip is not expected unless the order is large, complicated or delivered curbside.

Research the average tip ranges for your business and the area, so you know what customer expectations are. For example, if you operate in a high-income part of town, prompting customers to leave a tip for a higher amount might make sense or even be expected.

Make Tipping Fair for All

Once you have an idea of the general tip range for your industry and business, you can build tip options into your EMV equipment. If sales associates in your business are not expected to be tipped (such as grocery store attendants), do not enable a tipping option at all. This alleviates awkwardness, wasted time at the counter and possible disputes in transactions.

These tipping options should be considered in EMV terminals:

Add a Tip Line to a Receipt

If you're printing out a receipt from a point-of-sale machine, you can add a blank tip line under the total amount. This automatically allows customers to fill in their own custom tip amount. Additionally, you can do the math for customers by displaying example amounts. If you are running a restaurant, for example, you could show 15 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent tip amount recommendations, which the customer could pull from when writing their own amount.

Enable Tips with a Click of a Button

If you're working with mobile or wireless point-of-sale devices, you could customize options based on total percentage for customers to push in with the click of a button. This one-click tipping makes it clear, easy and fast for customers to tip. Customers who accidentally key in the wrong amount might dispute the charge, which could lengthen the sales process.

Put Power in the Hands of the Customer

Before prompting a customer to key in a tip, you could have your credit card machine ask the question, “Do you want to leave a tip?” first, before tip options are even displayed. This way, there is less confusion or uncertainty about tipping when a customer does not want to tip.

Work with your point-of-sale provider to explore what tipping options are available to you. For example, North American Bancard offers EMV tip adjust. This feature allows consumers who make a purchase on an EMV credit card machine to add a tip to their receipt after a purchase with an EMV card. This is a great feature for restaurants and other businesses where tipping is customary.

When you're deciding on a solution, try to find one that puts both employees and customers at ease. You want employees to be adequately compensated, and you want to give customers the opportunity to reward great service. Just make sure the options you offer are reasonable so that each transaction is a win-win.

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