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We can see that it breaks down simply to customary polite behaviour, normal respectful conduct or regular courteous deeds. Whichever way it comes together, the message is still the same and still extremely easy to understand.
How are these fundamentals not second nature to us humans and in particular those working in the retail industry? Normal respectful behaviour should in fact be the most natural and normal of things for us to do. I believe it takes more effort to be opposed to this behaviour, which comes naturally to us.
How do we change or educate in order to move forward in a positive, kind and respectful way? What is being compromised and where are our shortcomings?
Let us look at some of the areas that are seriously lacking in the etiquette department and what tips can be shared to change the status quo.
Care for your customers
You only get one chance to make a good impression so make sure you don’t ruin it with indifference when you first greet someone. Always greet your customers in a polite and courteous manner with a ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good evening’. Smile, be genuine and if sitting down, stand up when you speak.
Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and remember you can never overuse these words. Be sincere and show respect.
When you have many customers to serve, acknowledge them and let them know you will attend to them soon.
Be present. Keep your focus on the customer you are serving or interacting with. Give them your undivided attention. Make them feel special. Keep eye contact, do not reach for the phone, unless it’s to assist the person you are serving, such as calling another store about a product for them.
Go above and beyond. Outstanding customer service is what will set your business apart from others. Exceed your customers’ expectations, give them an experience they will remember and want to tell others about.
Whether you are starting work, attending a meeting, or going to an appointment, make sure you arrive at least five minutes before your scheduled time. If you are going to be even two minutes late, let the other parties know. It is unacceptable to think that you can rock up at whatever time you get there without any communication. Being late is rude and disrespectful.
This is a big one. As we know, the content of emails and how they are written can be interpreted very differently than the intent behind them. Make sure your emails are clear and self-explanatory.
The subject line needs to be meaningful and relevant.
Start your email with a formal greeting and do not get too personal when signing off on your email. Use your formal business “signature” which should include your name, company name, position, and contact details. Always check grammar, spelling and punctuation. Be polite.
Make sure you format the layout of your email, using paragraphs, spacing and bullet points if required. Keep your emails clear and concise. Lengthy emails are rarely read in full.
Do not use BCC. If you need to BCC someone into an email, just communicate with them privately. Keep all relevant people in the loop with your email and please don’t CC the world, unless the email is specifically relevant for those parties. CC’ing others to cover yourself is a waste of people’s time and not appropriate.
If you have an urgent matter, make a phone call instead of sending multiple emails.
Please avoid writing offensive emails to anyone, it will only inflame a situation. It is always better to have a face-to-face conversation.
Do not write anything in an email you may later regret. If you are writing an email when upset or agitated, wait it out, even if it’s overnight.
Do not use capital letters unless at the start of a sentence, they can be interpreted as rude or aggressive. If you are snowed under by the volume of emails you receive, try your hardest to acknowledge emails and send a brief message to say you have noticed the email and you will get back to them at a specified time. By doing this, the person receiving the email is not left wondering if you have even seen their email in the first place.
If you are sending an attachment, double check that you have attached the document before sending.
Always read your email twice before sending it.
Make sure you know what the meeting is about and be prepared.
When attending a meeting, make sure you take either a notepad and pen or device such as a laptop or tablet that will allow you to make notes.
Always have your phone on silent, avoid looking at your phone and do not take or make phone calls, unless it is an absolute emergency.
Be a good listener. Allow others to finish speaking and do not talk over people.
Do not take food into a meeting and avoid being distracted or worse still, falling asleep!
Use a pleasant engaging voice when speaking. Use greetings such as ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ or ‘good evening’ and let the caller know who it is they are speaking with and make sure that the person receiving the call is the person you wish to speak with.
Be clear and concise with your dialogue. Give your phone call your undivided attention and avoid placing a person on hold for an extended period. Be courteous as all times.