What Happened to Common Courtesy?

It doesn’t matter how much a customer is spending. That customer could refer a huge job or one hundred little jobs at a later date, or even grow to a big conglomerate and into a $1 million customer. We never know what the future holds, but I’ll tell you one thing, when a company employee is rude, I do not want to do business with that company again. Do you?

Telling a customer you don’t handle the small stuff, or telling them you’re not going to waste your time doing something if the customer isn’t buying is like taking an ice cold glass of water and throwing it in their face. Who wants to do business with someone who throws cold water all over them?

Can you tell I had an experience like that recently?

Everyone understands production costs and how that sort of thing works, but there are ways to word something without causing the relationship to break.

1. Listen carefully to your customer and make sure you have a clear understanding of what the customer wants. Without that, no one will be satisfied.

2. If it is a new customer, pay close attention to him or her. If they have a bad experience they’ll tell up to forty people about it, and only about ten-fifteen people about a good experience.

3. Don’t use terms like “small stuff” or “waste time” with any customer. You never know if that customer will turn into one of the most loyal customers you ever had. They surely won’t if you make them feel mistreated and unimportant: read that “small”. Even the best client can have a bad day and be snappish. You don’t have that luxury because service with a smile can change the worst attitude, but bad behavior in response to bad behavior just means everyone loses. Of course you know this already.

4. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the customer wants. (Did I repeat this?) If you satisfy that need, then you’ve got a sale and a repeat customer. If you don’t, then you’ve got a dissatisfied person who not only doesn’t want to do business with you, but you’ve also got a walking time bomb of potentially negative advertising. A person with a negative message (bad experience) will repeat it eighteen to twenty times. One with a good message (good experience) may repeat it three to five times. (1995 Chilton research survey). The key here is that a bad experience will be talked about because it is “news”. A good experience will come to mind usually only when someone talks about a particular company or product.

5. Make sure your employees are trained well in how to treat clients. Most business owners don’t need to reinvent the wheel about all this. We all have a tendency to forget people are the most important, not deadlines or piles of paperwork even though a job isn’t finished until the paper work is done.

Every business owner and executive has heard this before. Every employee should have heard it, but it seems that fewer are hearing it everyday. Every entrepreneur has had a bad experience and vowed not to repeat the mistake. It isn’t a new message. But, it is obvious that there are a lot of companies that must train their people in people skills because this issue is confounding more and more business owners.

Courtesy was drilled in to us as children and it stayed with us into adulthood. Now I hear five year olds telling their mother, “No,” with no reprisals. It is a very sad state we live in these days when customers accept rudeness as the Norm, and employees don’t have the sense their Momma slapped into them at the age of five. Where did Common Courtesy go?

Courtesy must have gotten on the bus and forgotten about us. Wouldn’t it be nice to pin a gold ribbon on the employee that is the most courteous? So, we could relax while doing business? Or give out a Bonk Award to the most rude. Then maybe we could prepare our minds to deal with the rudeness coming, and not be so surprised, or let it settle around the heart spoiling the day. On the other hand, why should we be subjected to rude employees when we are the ones spending our hard-earned money in a penny-pinching economy?

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