A Little Civility Thank You

As we live, eat, work, grow and socialize together 24 hours a day, it does make sense we continue to reinforce the basic rules for how to treat one another respectfully.  Under no pretense is this meant to be preaching, it is simply a reminder of our times.  Thank you matters.  You are welcome is appreciated.  Please is polite. I understand does not mean you agree, it means you listened.

Civil nations have rules and expectations on how to interact through defined customs.  How we greet each other, open conversations and end our discourse are all ways to show our civility.  Agree to disagree, we can also always choose to end our interaction with respect.

Governing rules of how we are expected to interact with one another help us all live with some order.  We have attempted to assign rules of social behavior based on principles of etiquette. Read a good Emily Post article lately?

We have golden rules that are taught in almost every religion.  Treat others as you want to be treated yourself.  We have rules surrounding global conflicts, we have rules of order for meetings and legal proceedings, we have rules we follow in business and school.  We also have assumed rules for how we can politely and respectfully engage each other.  We have even gone so far as to teach these principles in schools, churches and other institutions.  Applying them is when it really counts!

Thank you. Please. You’re Welcome. Going beyond the rehearsed pleasantries, we also have defined ways of showing appreciation and gratitude. I understand. I appreciate your help. I am grateful. Very civil ways to engage with each other.

Recently, I was at a service counter and the person asked me, “How are you today?”  I replied, “Great! How are you?” There was no response.  Then he stopped and starred at me for a good 20 seconds.  He said, “No one ever asks me how I am doing, so I am a little shocked.”  He was a young teenager, probably working his first or second job.  He had been properly trained to say the words.  No one finished his lessons in civility, that polite expression that says I really cared about how you are doing today.  Why? Every person he had asked never cared to respectfully ask him how he was doing.

As we look to speed up how we interact in real-time, access information in nanoseconds and connect with each other around the world, maybe we need to have some basic reviews of 21st century civility.  Thank you. You’re Welcome. Please. Good-Bye. Hello. It is universal. How are you? Can I help you? I appreciate your understanding. They all seem to have use around the world. Maybe if we continue to focus on what we all know is respectful we can accomplish more — together.

As our society enters into greater opportunities to engage with each other, look for more examples of respectful human interaction. Share these examples. Teach others. Respond to the question, how are you doing today.  Rudeness is ugly. We accomplish nothing when we are less than civil.  We don’t teach anyone.  We seem to not care.  Being right, only matters to you.  Being responsive, appreciative and polite matters to everyone.  If we start with respect, maybe we can have a good social relationship with everyone.  It’s worth a try.

Thanks for listening.  I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Jamie Glass, Outsourced CMO and President of Artful Thinkers, a strategic sales and marketing consulting company and Sales & Marketing Services Managing Director at CKS Advisors

Who Makes the First Impression for Your Business?

Who Greets Your Potential Customers?

First impressions for your business are made by people that open doors, make cold calls, attend networking meetings and answer your phone.  They are delivered by your marketing communications like social media and websites.  How confident are you that your potential clients are greeted warmly and with a direct invitation to do business?

Years ago businesses paid someone to sit at a front lobby desk and answer every inbound call and greet every walk-in appointment.  The receptionist qualifications were measured by friendliness, service-orientation and attentive disposition.  The standard phone greeting of this time was “Thank you for calling, how can I help you?”

When is the last time were greeted this way?  Today we are often met with automated attendants and empty lobbies.  Some businesses have completely eliminated any dedicated space to a welcome station and filled it with another cubical. My impression is that first impressions are not a priority for this business.  The decision that customer experience may be too costly to employ a dedicated person, may be costing you business.

It is not difficult to think back to a bad first impression.  I recall three in the past weeks.  One top restaurant asked me to wait outside in 110 degrees because they did not open for four minutes, yet the door was unlocked.  Another restaurant hostess asked me to stand until my party arrived even though every table was empty.  A technology company, which had a sitting place upon entry, left me for 20 minutes while employees stared at me.  Not one person asked why I was there or if I needed help.  I remember all of these first impressions, vividly.

Noted in a recent New York Times article Praise Is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall, “Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.” Sited from Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University in a journal article he co-authored in 2001, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good.”

How your employees are greeting the public, networking, making introductions, and opening doors for others is a direct reflection of hiring skills, company culture and leadership.  Business owners, CEOs and managers own the customer experience.  Every employee is responsible for making a positive first impression.  How are you reinforcing how positive first impressions are made in your business?

Customer experience is a financial decision in business, unless revenues are low on the priority list.  Reputation management is critical and costly.  A bad review is hard to overcome.  You can’t erase the Internet or someone’s memory.  People use others professional and personal experiences as a reason to buy or not buy. Bad experiences are viral, whether online, through social media, on sites that track reputations or by word-of-mouth.  Once word is out, it is permanent.  You own it!

Welcome!

Every experience starts with the greeting.  Take time to review how your potential and existing customers are greeted today.  This applies whether you are selling B2B or B2C, for every industry, in a building or online.  Use “secret shoppers” and have them rate how inviting, caring, and enthusiastic they were welcomed to do business with you.

Customer service is a pillar to good business.  Customer experience starts when the phone is picked up, the door is unlocked or a web site is visited.  We may not all have the luxury of hanging up a flashing “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign to greet everyone.  We do have the luxury to manage and train our messengers to provide an outstanding first impression.

Invest in your greeting.  Define, train, test and continually reinforce how you want to insure a positive first impression.  It your opportunity to create a long-term valuable relationship with your customer.

Jamie Glass, CMO and President of Artful Thinkers, a sales and marketing consulting company.