Good Manners Contribute to Your Company’s Bottom Line
We’ve all encountered people with bad manners – from the person who cuts in line, to the poorly written email, to the curt, unhelpful person on the other end of the phone. These encounters may leave us feeling frustrated and angry. And when it comes to business, bad manners can be downright unhealthy for the bottom line.
So, how can we all strive to make better manners a part of our everyday routine?
First, as a manager, focus on what you’re doing right now, and what you can do better in the future. By practicing good manners yourself, you will not only be setting an example for your employees, you’ll be making good manners a part of your business strategy, and ultimately, your culture.
Practicing good manners shows other people that you care about them, and that you respect them. This is how all customers should be treated.
With the workplace becoming increasingly more global, and virtual, much of our communication with customers does not happen face to face, but rather through emails and phone calls. Because we’re often unable to see the person to whom we’re speaking, this makes practicing good manners even more critical, as we’re unable to see facial expressions, and body language – two key indicators of a person’s mood, attitude, etc.
Often, first impressions are lasting, and as we’ve all heard so many times before, we only get one chance to make a good first impression. Make it count by practicing good manners.
So how do you measure up?
In face to face meetings – Do you greet the customer warmly, with an appropriate handshake? Do you make eye contact? Are you paying attention to the person who’s speaking? Do you interrupt them? Do you talk over them? Do you use profanity, or other phrases which might be considered rude or sarcastic? Do you answer your phone or your cell phone during a meeting? Are you texting with other clients, or answering emails on your Blackberry during a meeting? Do you arrive late to a scheduled meeting? Do you discuss personal business? Do you fail to have an agenda for a meeting, thereby wasting others’ precious time? Have you taken the time to make sure you’re properly groomed? Do you thank the customer for his or her time at the end of the meeting?
In emails or other written correspondence – is your customer’s name spelled correctly? Is your communication grammatically correct; does it contain any other typos? Do you type in upper and lower case letters, versus an email typed in all caps, which is the virtual equivalent of yelling? Do you ramble on incessantly without making what you want clear? Do you greet the customer before plunging into your own agenda? Do you thank the person for his or her time, and include full contact details about how to reach you should they have questions? Do you make it known what your schedule is, so they can reach you easily?
During phone calls – do you greet the customer, and identify yourself? Do you speak clearly and slowly into the phone? Are you prepared to speak to the person; i.e., do you have your notes or other materials at hand, so you’re not wasting their time by looking for what you need? Do you have an established agenda, so you make the most of everyone’s time? Do you thank them for their time at the end of the call? Do you promptly follow up to answer any questions that arose?
Above all, in any communication you have with customers, do you say please and thank you? The phrases ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are timeless, for people of all ages. These words never go out of style, they’re always pleasant to hear, and they show respect.
Essentially, remembering the Golden Rule, or treating others the way you’d like to be treated, is always a good way to evaluate whether you’re practicing good manners, or whether you could stand a few adjustments. No matter what business you’re in, practicing good manners can only add to your company’s growth, profitability and longevity.