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Study supports touching guests


Gifted Gourmet
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article from Nation's Restaurant News

A Cornell University study backs up those positive benefits and documents a monetary value to tactile tableservice. When employees touch customers the upshots are better tips and greater customer satisfaction, a Cornell hospitality school researcher has concluded...  The study noted that customers who were not touched left an average tip of 11.5 percent. Those who received a short touch paid an average tip of 14.9 percent, and those who received a slightly longer touch tipped an average of 14.7 percent. Women tipped an average of 15.5 percent if they were touched, and men left an average of 14 percent.

Let 'er rip! How do you think touching works in a restaurant setting? Positive and warm? Too familiar and annoying?

Your conclusions? Slightly longer touch? When is too much really too much? :rolleyes: or does everyone need the warmth of a touch nowadays?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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We had another thread about this topic somewhere. I think this is cultural to a major extent. I don't think New Yorkers would react so positively to touching, and if you're a man working as a waiter in Malaysia, don't try touching a Muslim woman customer you're not married to!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I've often felt I need a t shirt printed with "dont touch me" in several languages, touching freaks me out, I definately wouldn't like it in a restaurant.

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11.5? 14.7? Are these acceptable tips, whether your waiter "touches" you or not?

I am firmly in the camp of DO NOT touch me, or sit down at my table to take my order. I don't go to a restaurant to socialize with wait staff nor, do I think, most wait staff goes to work to find a new best friend. Treat me professionally and I'll treat you professionally and leave a correct 20% tip.

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I have consistently found that the best service is "warm, friendly and responsive but not familiar". It is not that I perceive waiters and waitress as either servants or inferiors but I do not perceive them as among my friends or intimates and for me at least, a hands off policy is best.

Several exceptions to this - in Europe, perhaps in other places as well, especially at places where one is a regular, it is perfectly acceptable to shake the hand of a waiter or waitress on arriving and perhaps again on leaving. And yes, if a client is obviously upset, a friendly but not intimate touch can be not only acceptable but very positive. That, however, takes at least a bit of wisdom on the part of the waitperson.

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I'm quite sure I've written about this here before...don't touch me unless we're friends/know each other well, don't chat me up about the weather unless it's germane or I ask, and if you put smilies on my check, expect me to roll my eyes, not think "Aw, how sweet!"

These things will make me lower, not raise, my tip percentage.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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So, Dr. Freud, is I might ask the question here, and since the drift of the thread thus far indicates, "What's bothersome to you about the touching by a waitperson?"

I don't like being touched by strangers at all. Don't know why - but I'm just not a "touchy" person. Having a waitperson touch me would freak me out for sure. My waiter might get a 14.7 percent tip if he touches me...but he'll get 20 if he doesn't!

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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Oh... and please, do not sit with us or squat down. I went to meet a client at a fairly casual pub and the waitress just slid into the booth right next to me. I really didn't like it but it didn't make me nearly as uncomfortable as someone squatting next to my chair or laying a hand on me.

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Who are these waitstaff who are running around indiscrimately touching customers? I'd love to hear from some of them - and their persepective.

For my part, I wonder, isn't a warm smile and a pleasant tone a sufficient indicator of friendliness? And I think a handshake is a perfectly acceptable way of greeting waitstaff whom you often encounter.

I, too, am in the camp of people who prefer not to be touched by random strangers. And perhaps there is something in my general demeanor that communicates this quite clearly to waitstaff. I can't think of one experience when a waitperson has just reached out and laid a hand on me.

I do, however, throughly enjoy the super hug I get when I run into my friend Dana, on staff at the Luau, for example.

Robin Tyler McWaters

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Something they don't make clear is if the study broke results down by types of restaurants, which I think would show VERY different results than what they gave in the article. I'm solidly in the "don't touch me" camp, but I also don't frequent "family restauraunts" or chain restaurants, which I think it the target market for this article at least. The last time I got forced to eat at a Chili's it was obvious the waiter would have done the hand on the shoulder game if I hadn't made it pretty clear by my expression that I'd break his kneecaps if he even tried...

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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I'm sorry...as a manager I couldn't support my staff in thier quest to touch customers. Sometimes, it is welcome, but most times it isn't. I remember a situation where a waiter was paying a lot of attention to my date. He was touchy-feely, too casual and a little too obvious in his affection. Although my date wasn't interested, she thought it was funny. I was annoyed and thought it was rude. The only reason he even got a tip was to not look like an ass in front of my date.

If a customer likes to be touched, they'll let you know through body language. Otherwise, it should be hands off!!!

"What garlic is to food, insanity is to art." ~ Augustus Saint-Gaudens

The couple that eGullets together, stays together!

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So what's the scoop with the Cornell study? It seems to be a little off from the reality we are hearing here.

Oh. My opinion is that touching someone who you are serving is inappropiate and over-familiar (old-fashioned term, that, what. . . :unsure: ) unless you work at a strip club.

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So, Dr. Freud, is I might ask the question here, and since the drift of the thread thus far indicates, "What's bothersome to you about the touching by a waitperson?"

We used to go to a small local breakfast spot but everytime we'd go there the owner would force himself upon us, all his customers. After he's touched everyones hands I don't want him to touch mine when I'm about to use my hands to pick up my toast and eat it. I don't need any additional help picking up a cold or flu bug.

Sometimes the owner would come up to shake your hand while you were eating. So you have to stop, let you food get cold so you could wash the koodies off you hands, no thanks. We'd try looking the other way to avoid this person so we could eat in peace, but the guy doesn't take that hint. Now we won't go there anymore.

Ultimately I go to a restaurant for the food. Although I like a freindly atmosphere you can't persuede me to come again based on your friendliness. Instead I would have like to see him put his social skills into serving the food and teaching is staff.

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I once had a waiter put his arm around me -- apparantly to comfort me because my entree had been 86'd. I shudder, still, to think about it. It seems brutally insincere -- though some people are, I suppose, touchy by nature -- a cheap attempt to bond and jack up the tip.

I suppose I've had more than a couple of servers over the years who I wouldn't have mided being touched by, just not in the kind of way that's appropriate during a busy dinner service. :wink:

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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So, Dr. Freud, is I might ask the question here, and since the drift of the thread thus far indicates, "What's bothersome to you about the touching by a waitperson?"

Nothing Freudian here at all. Having lived most of my life in Europe and the Middle-East, I am quite used to and welcoming of greeting male or female acquaintances with a kiss (or two or three depending on whereyou live) on the cheek or a hug, but those will be people I choose to greet warmly and not strangers and those are not "casual touches" as much as they are socially acceptable and welcomed forms of greeting. As the old song has it, "it ain't what you do, its the way how you do it". More than that, its with whom you do it.

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We go to a place where one of the servers shakes hands with you after you've been there a few times, and another where the owner/maitre d' does the same or does a little air-kiss thing. That has never bothered me with them-- they're nice guys-- but somehow it does bother me if it's the first time I've seen someone.

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It appears that more people don't care for the bodily contact offered by some people who are waitstaff in restaurants than prefer it. Perhaps a sign of the times?

Or something more? ... I often disliked the touch of somene whom I didn't know over the years in restaurants but, after a number of years of living in the South, I have become more accepting of this situation.

Possibly with my advancing age, I now find it reassuring :wink: ... by the time I need a walker to go out to eat, I guess I will positively be most desirous of someone's warm touch ...

welcoming of greeting male or female acquaintances with a kiss (or two or three depending on whereyou live) on the cheek or a hug
and in Europe, I saw nothing wrong with this at all ... it was very much enjoyed! :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Don't touch me. Ever.

It's a perceived-status thing. My server is standing over me, I am sitting and smaller. The server feels free to intrude upon my space and touch my body without my permission, without even asking my permission. No, no, no. I will flee from the insult.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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