Attentive service, the freedom to change dishes, and happy staff that know the menu well are the top three reasons European customers leave a tip in restaurants.
That's according to new research from workplace hygiene company Tork, which surveyed 3,087 consumers in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany and Russia.
Attentiveness and staff that acknowledge restaurant customers when required were picked up as the most important factors from diners' point of view, closely followed by having the freedom to alter dishes to suit individual preferences, staff that know the menu very well, and staff that seem to "enjoy themselves when working".
Menu knowledge was most important in Germany, with 61% saying changing dishes was important, compared with 47% of UK consumers saying the same. In contrast, while 54% of Russian respondents said they would be more likely to leave a tip if staff had good knowledge of the menu, just 34% of Russians cared about having the freedom to change dishes.
When it comes to staff enjoying their work, there is an international divide: over 50% of respondents from the Netherlands, Germany and France said that "staff who seem to be enjoying themselves when working" was a very important factor in their decision to leave a tip.
In contrast, just 37% of UK respondents viewed a contented front of house team as a reason to leave a tip, with the figure falling to 34% for Russian respondents.
Jamie Wright, UK&I communications manager at SCA Hygiene, said: "As the tipping debate continues at pace, when it comes to service, it is clear that old fashioned values are still key to a great experience, with attentive and knowledgeable front of house teams still playing a key role in the delivery of a memorable customer experience."
He also underlined the message that UK operators should be flexible when it comes to adapting menus to consumers' preferences, a practice that is seen as standard in the US.
Tipping has been high on the news agenda in recent months, as many casual dining groups came in for criticism that they had not been transparent enough when it comes to paying front-of-house staff service charge, and reportedly taking tips from workers.
All companies denied wrongdoing, but the debate has highlighted the difference between cash tips and the 12.5% service charge, and the importance of making tipping policies transparent to consumers and staff.