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Compliments deliver better sales service

An Austrian study has found that food service improves when you pay the people serving you with compliments.

It works at least for fast food.

The findings comes from a study created by Austrian economists. It had researchers buying 100 cones of ice-cream and 800 donor kebab wraps.

It involved the researchers travelling out to fast food restaurants.

The researchers had to measure the effect of praise and recognition in consumer interactions.

So to do that, the researchers were instructed to end their sentence with "You have the best ice cream in town."

After that, they had to leave the venue, take out a small scale and weigh up their serving.

The findings were striking.

Passing on that carefully formulated compliment saw them getting 10 per cent more ice cream on average than when they ordered without paying a compliment.

The result was just as striking as when they provided a tip.

When they did that, the serving was 17 per cent bigger.

Then again, closer analysis showed it wasn’t that much better.

After accounting for the tip, it was only a 7 per cent increase in value.

That might suggest it could be more effective, not to mention cheaper, extending a compliment. It costs nothing.

Indeed, customers who paid compliments got continuously growing portions.

Those portions that accompanied compliments ended up being bigger than the ones that were only accompanied by tips.

The researchers had similar findings when it came to donor kebabs.

Lead author Michael Kirchler said his study showed that compliments paid off more than tips.

"There is a tendency to underestimate immaterial incentives such as recognition and praise and to overestimate monetary incentives,” he said.

On the other hand, the study suggests people will get bad service if they don’t extend compliments or pay tips.

“In the extreme case that tipping or complimenting were to become a social norm, we would expect negative reciprocity for consumers not providing an immaterial or monetary gift,” the paper says.

“In other words, we conjecture that consumers might be punished by the salesperson if no tip or compliment were given in advance when it is the norm to tip or compliment.”

by Leon Gettler, August 18th 2017