How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The Elegant Exit
When they go, act elegantly, making them feel they have had a good time and are valued even after they have given a tip.
If you are the other side of the restaurant, wave and smile. If you work at at high-class place then be more muted in this.
If you can, thank them for coming and say it was great having them there, as if they were your personal guests.
If they have coats hung up elsewhere, fetch them and carry them like they are expensive clothing. Hand them over like you are giving a nice gift. Help them into their coats if it is clear they are going to need them.
If they have not given a great tip, do not look grumpy or angry, but put on a slightly disappointed look. The goal is to make them feel a bit guilty so next time they will give more, not to drive them away forever. Also reflect: was there something here for you to learn so you can serve even better next time?
If they have had a bad time, do not hide but apologize gravely and sincerely. If you can, a reduction in the bill can help them to be happier and keep them coming back. If they are angry, never get angry back. Accept what they say without necessarily taking responsibility. Your goal is to get them out as soon as possible, not to have a stand-up argument in front of other customers.
The recency effect says we remember most the last thing that happened. So no matter how good the meal was, if they feel bad as they are leaving, then that is the abiding memory they will keep. Likewise, an elegant exit can make up for earlier sins.
You can add a layer of reciprocity here in doing kind things for them like helping them with coats, chairs and whatever. When they know you are not just doing it for the tip, their estimation of you will go up and they will be more likely to want to repay you next time.
Happy customers not only return, they also recommend the place to their friends. An elegant exit can therefore lead to more tips from people who might otherwise have gone elsewhere.