As I travel around the country and the world, I am constantly struck by the lack of manners today. Few business people seem to place any value on common courtesy, which translates into customer service, which then translates into profits. The lack of business etiquette skills runs the gamut from polite dining, professional dressing to such simple acts as saying "Thank you" to a customer or an employee. Very few people bother with expressing any sort of appreciation. Every customer needs to hear those words whether they come from the top executive of the car dealership that sold you a new BMW or the cashier at the check out counter who rang up your toothpaste.
Customers should to be thanked for coming in, waiting to be helped, holding for you on the phone, making a purchase or simply showing interest in a product or service. It is not rocket science and requires no advanced degrees. It is easy to implement when it comes from the top down. When the CEO thanks his employees, those people are more inclined to thank the customers. It is "viral" as we say. When the organization offers formal training in business etiquette, it makes an even greater impact.
The hospitality industry is the best at expressing appreciation to their clients. They actually spend the time and the money to train their employees in good manners. I recently presented a program at an association convention that was held at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. The effort that the Ritz puts into training its employees is obvious. It struck me that the courteousness of the staff carried over to the guests who interacted with total strangers in the same gracious way.
Something else that I have noticed in the hospitality industry is the emphasis that is placed on greeting guests properly and promptly. When you are on the road as much as I am, it makes a huge difference to be called by name each time you enter a lobby, pass by the reception desk or eat in the hotel restaurant.
Then they go a step further. They teach employees the correct answer to a "Thank you." In 99% of the hotels where I have stayed while taking my "Manners That Sell" presentations on the road, when I thank an employee, their answer is either "You are welcome" or "It is my pleasure." The rest of the world seems to think that the response to a "Thank you" is "No problem." Who suggested that there was a problem?
You can be like every other company and disregard the simple "thank you" or you and your employees can make it a requirement. You'll be surprised at how those few words "thank you" and "you are welcome" will set you apart from your competitors and how adding a bit of polish will build profits. Be different from everyone else--be polite.
About Lydia Ramsey
Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, executive etiquette coach, professional speaker and author of Manners That Sell™, offering keynotes and seminars to corporations, associations, colleges and universities. To learn more about Lydia, her services and products, go to her website, Manners That Sell.
If you would like to have Lydia speak at your next meeting or conference contact her online or call her at 912-598-9812.