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Courier MBA Day 27: Customer Service and Tips

Tips are a funny thing when delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats and Postmates.

They're a significant part of what we make. It's not uncommon to earn more in tips than you do in delivery fees.

That means at some point you want to look at what you are doing on your deliveries, and is it possible to earn more in tips because of your customer service?

The challenge in increasing tips while delivering for Grubhub, Doordash and now Uber Eats

Most people we deliver to tip when they order.

With Grubhub and Doordash there's no chance to change the tip. In other words, the only time that anything will change based on what you do is if they give you cash on top of what they already tipped.

Uber Eats does allow a customer to change their tip for up to an hour after the delivery is completed. Meaning they could go up or down. It's very rare that they do either.

Postmates is the only one of the major four where tipping primarily happens after the delivery.

Is that bad that most people tip when they order and we can't really influence the tip amount that much? I don't think it is. The thing is that Uber Eats used to have terrible tipping when customers had to wait until after the delivery. Postmates customers do skip the tip more often than others.

I think it has to do with when people tip. Once upon a time I believed that it was better to tip after because that's when people tip at restaurants. But I think there's a bigger factor involved here.

People are used to tipping when they pay. By the time they get their food, they're not thinking about tipping. They're thinking about eating.

And maybe they'll remember to tip later. Often on Postmates, people tip when they order food again the next time. By that time, they are more likely to go with the default as there has been time for them to forget about your awesome service.

Does great service make a difference?

satisfied customers conceptual meter indicating hundred percent, isolated on white background

I still believe it does.

Sometimes it results in an extra cash tip. Sometimes.

I think when thinking about tipping and customer service, it's a long game.

This can be depressing. It can be motivating. But the thing is, your tip on the delivery you performed today is more influenced by the service someone else performed before than on what you did today. Both good and bad.

And your service today has more influence on what someone else will get the next time the customer orders than what it does for you.

So why bother? After all, the odds are incredibly small you'll get the delivery the next time the customer orders.

The more that customers decide to come back and order another delivery, the more opportunities you have to deliver in the future.

We can't do anything about what other couriers do. But we can do something about what we do.

The best way to improve tips immediately

Choose deliveries that tipped well.

Just being honest.

My philosophy on tips:

If the customer tips well, awesome. Sometimes you get that really generous tip and it feels awesome. I am incredibly grateful when that happens.

But if the customer doesn't tip? Oh well.

I rarely have deliveries where the customer didn't tip. That's because I set a price. If the delivery doesn't meet my price, I don't take it. A delivery rarely meets my price if there is no tip included in the offer amount.

And I'm not going to complain about someone who didn't tip on an offer I didn't accept. I rejected that offer, and it's not worth the emotional energy to think about it.

What about those rare times where Doordash or Grubhub or Uber Eats bumped up the delivery fee? When the offer was enough for me to take but the tip portion was zero?

I accepted the offer as it was. It was good enough for me to take. I made my price and that's good enough for me. I don't care how much came from the customer and how much came from the delivery fee. It it was good enough, it was good enough. If it wasn't, then I didn't take it in the first place.

And once I accepted it, I'm taking it and treating it like they tipped well enough for it to pay well enough for me to take it.

How can you improve the chances of a tip?

There are times that someone will tip extra.

There are two things the customer wants: They want the food quickly and they want it in good condition.

Here are some things I recommend that make a difference:

It starts at the restaurant.

Make sure the order is good. I never believed in rifling through the order even in the days before they sealed most orders. But look for things that might stand out. Know what you're picking up and verify with the restaurant staff.

Think about what the customer would want. There are some places I'll pick up the napkins because the restaurant doesn't do so. If they have mints, I'll grab some and drop them in the bag. Are there things that require sauces?

On top of all that, be efficient. Bring your delivery bag in, dress in a way that they know what you're there for, all that gets you in and out quickly.

Take care of the food.

Do what you can to keep the hot food hot and the cold stuff cold. Keep the two separate when possible. Use your delivery bag when it's best for the food.

Treat that food as though you were going to be the one receiving it. Make sure it gets there in the best condition possible.


If there's an issue, communicate. Let the customer know.

I love voice to text. If I see it's an apartment or somewhere I know there could be an issue, I'll send a text asking if I need instructions to get in. I let them know if traffic is on the way. If I did get a double order, I'll let the second customer know.

But don't overdo it. Sometimes it's just overkill and can be more annoying than helpful.

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation.

elegant dessert molecular cuisine on a white background.

Ever wonder about the goofy dishes some restaurants use? Or how they'll make lines on the plate with sauces or toppings? It's not practical, it's not on the food itself, so what's up with that? It's all about presentation. How it looks makes often as much difference to the customer as how it tastes.

We can't do much about the packaging the restaurant uses. But we can control the things we can control.

I keep the food in the back of the car. So even if the customer comes out to the curb (usually Uber Eats, rarely so lucky with anyone else), I'm displaying the effort of getting out to give them their food.

I keep it in a bag sealed up. Coupled with being in the back of the car, the customer can see that there was no opportunity for me to eat their food. That's a real concern.

I wear clothes that communicate that I give a damn.

I demonstrate that I took good care of their food. It's all to purposely do things in a way that show that how their food is treated and the condition of their food makes a difference to me.

Because if they know that they make a different to me, I make a difference to them.


I love a feature Uber Eats added. You can thank the customer for the tip. It's just tapping a button, but it demonstrates that I'm thankful.

If I meet the customer face to face, I make sure to thank them. If I don't see them, I send a thank you by text. Those times that I do get extra cash, I'm very sure to make sure they know I'm grateful. And I mean it wholeheartedly.

That's part of that bigger picture thing. It lets people know the tip means something.

The biggest rule of customer service:

Treat every delivery as though you will get a huge tip.

Even if you don't. Even when you know you won't.

Because some people will. They deserve it. Because we can make some really good money doing something that's honestly pretty simple. Because sometimes people will surprise you.

But more than anything, because it's just the right thing to do.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.