Does Your Business Need an Etiquette Lesson?
How good is the customer service in your Small Business? And not just by you, but from all team members who interact with your customers. Have things been slipping through the cracks and if so, do you know why?
I don’t know about you but I am constantly amazed at the lack of courtesy which exists today. I’m a strong believer in good manners and with this technological age, you would think it would be easier than ever to keep in touch.
However, in both business and society generally, I either see less communication rather than more as people choose to email each other for everything rather than phoning someone or leaving their desk to talk to someone; OR I see people, mainly on mobile phones, sharing too much with strangers – be it on trains, buses, planes, in waiting rooms, at the hairdresser etc.
I miss the days before mobile phones – remember what used to happen – we either found a public phone box or simply waited until we got back to the office or home because nothing was that important!
I’m a huge Frasier fan and there is an episode about how Frasier after holding doors open for people, letting cars in, offering people shelter under an umbrella etc.; finally explodes when a person takes their table at the coffee house, after he could see Niles and Frasier were politely waiting for the people to leave before sitting down. Frasier picked the man up by the scruff of the jacket and threw him out the door saying, “You Sir need to be taught an etiquette lesson!”
This outburst is rewarded with applause, recognition in the paper and callers to his show taking this concept to the extreme including placing scorpions through the mail to someone who had been rude to them.
Now I am not suggesting anything as extreme as this – however, why is it that when we can quickly email a thank you or an acknowledgement, we choose not to.
Even though we are all very busy these days, is that really an excuse to be perceived as rude? What perception are we giving our clients and/or staff by our lack of action or attention to detail?
Businesses who are in need of an etiquette lesson DON’T:
- •Acknowledge applications/resumes when submitted by potential employees
- • Advise unsuccessful applicants in a timely manner or sometimes not even at all
- • Advise clients of estimated and/or updated timeframes relevant to their job
- • Advise clients of changes to estimated costings – particularly when it comes to consultants
- • Reply to emails and phone calls within 48 hours (or preferably earlier)
- • Update their website at least every three months
- • Thank clients for prompt payment
- • Thank clients for accepting their fee proposal
- • Thank potential clients for requesting a fee proposal
- • Acknowledge each fee proposal request in a timely manner (especially when they either choose not to do the work or can’t do the work)
- • Thank people for their help – be it staff or clients
- • Value criticism and see it as an opportunity for improvement
Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. If potential clients and/or employees are not treated in a courteous manner, they could be a negative referral for your business when you want them to be either a client/employee; or at the very least a strategic alliance.
In this economic climate, not only are more decisions being made on price; but potential clients are looking for additional value and strong client service. If they are not treated well and made to feel special and valued by you and your staff, they will then deselect you and your business.
So how good is your customer service?
Have things been slipping through the cracks and if so, do you know why?
Are your business systems complimenting your client service standards or hindering them?
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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