In this technology-laden world that we now inhabit, common courtesy and the benefit of the doubt have seemingly given way to the online rant and snarky tweet. Automated messages and grammatical errors frequently replace saying “please” and “thank you”. But the good news is that you can really make your business stand out (in a good way!) by returning to some of the basic etiquette practices of the good ol’ days (wow, do I sound old). Here are a few simple tips:
(1) Treat Correspondence Like Courtship
When you first start dating someone new, you put your best foot forward and are automatically on your best behavior. Business should be no different, which is why it is so important to respond to phone calls and emails quickly. It is an instant turn-off for someone to contact a business with cash in hand, ready to spend and the company can’t be bothered to respond to a basic inquiry. And from the customer’s perspective, if this is how they’re getting treated in the “honeymoon phase” of your business relationship, imagine how they will be treated when you settle into the comfort zone your relationship several months or years in. Quick replies to emails and phone calls show that your business values your customers/clients, no matter what stage of your relationship. And since there are plenty of other business fish in the sea, it is so important to respond before another business swims right in to court your fish.
(2) Show Up
Whether it’s a face to face meeting, an arranged phone call or a stated project deadline, it is imperative that you show up and do what you said that you would do. Your client’s time is just as valuable as your own, so by showing up late to a meeting or blowing off a project deadline, you are, in essence, saying that you don’t value your client or their time. For projects, it is always better to under-promise and over-deliver, so make sure to give yourself some wiggle room for unexpected issues that may arise. And for meetings, make sure to factor in extra time for travel, traffic, or any problems that might come up; there is no excuse for tardiness and if you don’t value your client’s time, another business most definitely will.
(3) Put Tech on Hold
There’s nothing that makes a person feel less important than trying to have a conversation with someone while they are distracted by their laptop or iPhone, checking their Facebook status, replying to emails or tweeting. You might as well be holding a big sign above your head that says “I don’t give a sh!@ about you or your business”. When you are talking to someone (in business or otherwise) in person, via skype or even over the phone, make sure to turn off all other tech devices and give that person your undivided attention. Checking your tech during conversations is just rude, plain and simple.
(4) Acknowledge and Appreciate
Go above and beyond to acknowledge and show appreciation for everyone that takes an interest in your business. This can be someone that inquires about your company, an actual customer or even a “sender” that refers others to your company. And acknowledging is as easy as sending a “thank you” note, following up after a call or a meeting, or reciprocating when someone refers business to you. You’d be surprised at just how far saying “thank you” can take you. This extra effort shows how much you value that person and keeps you top of mind for when they do seek out services.
These business etiquette ideas may seem simple, but they are all too frequently becoming a thing of the past. It’s really all about valuing your customers and behaving in ways that show it.
What other business etiquette ideas can help differentiate your company from the rest? Please share them below.
Thanks to Kathie B. Martin, APR of The Etiquette School of Burmingham, Joel Libava of Franchise Selection Specialists Inc, David Hooper of Private Victory, Michael Fekkes of ENLIGN Business Brokers, and Loren Fogelman of Mindset for Marketing Success for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.