Well, in my view, the simple answer is NO! Here are some examples and why not doing these things will adversely affect your business. Good manners ARE relevant in business, although sadly are not always front and centre in some businesses. It starts with a simple please or thank you … but goes far beyond that.
Good Manners in Business
Returning calls (or emails)
Over the years I’ve known a good number of people who don’t do this, and certainly not well. You may believe that “being busy” is an excuse, but it reflects badly on you. I’ve known businesses that have ultimately lost clients due to lack of good communication. You might not respond in a matter of minutes, but it’s good manners to respond in a day (or two on the outside). 68% of people leave a business due to a perceived lack of indifference (ie lack of love) and not answering the phone, returning calls or returning emails is definitely not showing your customers any ‘love’. And what is more important, they won’t tell you (mostly), they won’t complain (mostly), they just won’t come back!
Turning up to appointments
Again, this is something that is happening out there in business. The person you had an appointment with just simply doesn’t turn up. Now, there can be an instance (this only happened to me this week) that the person had an accident and was in the hospital, so don’t leave a rude message automatically. However, if the person forgot, got busy or just decided they were too late already and well, why bother, that is not good enough. Even worse, complete lack of communication. If you’re running late, let the person know as soon as practicable, and ask them if it’s ok you come late, or would they prefer to reschedule. The repercussion can be word of mouth, a bad review or simply you start to develop a bad rep. Tradies at one stage (as an industry) had this rep. It is getting better.
Greet people, use their name and listen
When you meet someone you should do a couple of things. Firstly, look them in the eye. I’m not saying have a staring competition, but maintain eye contact. This is especially important in a networking situation where you should not be scanning the room, but actually listening to the person. That means eye contact, nodding and listening. Use their name (people do like to hear their name and it shows you care enough about them to know). Don’t abbreviate it without permission and if it’s socially appropriate (these days in COVID, likely not) then shake their hand. That goes for women and men. When it comes to listening, do actually listen. Don’t interrupt or try to jump in and finish their sentence, or if you are selling, jump in too quickly with a solution.
Responding to someone who has given you a quote
Again, this is rude. If someone has taken the time to give you a quote (and for some businesses it really does take a good chunk of time), then do them the courtesy of picking up the phone when they ring. If you don’t want their service or found someone else then just let them know. If you are scared of the ‘hard sell’ then even send a text or email. An effective salesperson will continue to follow up, so save you time and theirs by having open communication – and good manners.
Not swearing or yelling
Let’s not even consider your blood pressure (but you should) this just isn’t on. Whether it’s a client, supplier or customer, you will achieve nothing (other than popping some blood vessels) by swearing at them. Remember that expression “you get more flies with honey than vinegar” well it’s true and if you take to yelling at everyone or as bad, swearing at them, people will just get up and leave. It costs on average 2.5 times a person’s salary to replace them AND it costs 7 times as much to get a new client than to retain an old one. So keep your clients and keep your customers by keeping your cool.
Not being rude to customers
Whilst this somehow links with the above point, I gave this a separate section as people can be rude without actually yelling or swearing. They can be off-handish, sarcastic, surly or disinterested. Who wants to do business with, or buy something from someone who is surly, doesn’t know how to smile or who shows they clearly don’t want to be there. Being friendly, polite and helpful with everyone you deal with will mean you very likely won’t get crummy reviews online and your staff will stick around. A regular thank you (whether it’s for placing an order, or your team doing a good job) does a long way. Saying thanks and being polite is not old fashioned, or it shouldn’t be.
Don’t walk into someone’s office without an appointment
You might be the customer, but if you want to see someone then pre-announce yourself and ensure that when you plan to drop by it will suit them. It’s rude to expect them to stop whatever they are doing and drop everything because you’re on their doorstep. Maybe they simply cannot, and you will have wasted your time with the visit and likely made them feel anything from uncomfortable (that they could not accommodate you) to downright annoyed.
Don’t be in a meeting and be doing something else
By being in a meeting (including a Skype or Zoom call) and you’re also doing emails, or scanning social media, or worse, texting someone else or taking another call. It’s not a sign you’re super-efficient, but rather that you have poor manners. It shows the other person that you don’t respect their time, you are not interested in what they are saying and you will very likely miss something you should have not missed. You’re in the meeting for a reason, so be there – in mind and body.
Call it karma, your just deserts, Karma, the Universe or even God. What goes around, comes around. If you are polite, friendly and cheerful, then those around you will be the same. You’ll have a better day and feel happier in your business. Those around you will feel the same and will want to hang around you.
With all the above pointers, this is not just for the business owner only. This starts with the business owner and then needs to flow down to the entire team. Owners set rules and lead by example, so if you are yelling at customers and calling them an ‘idiot’ (either to them or as soon as you’ve hung up the phone), then don’t be surprised if your team become surly, disinterested or who simply decide this isn’t the place they want to work and leave. It’s also up to the business owner (or manager) to be constantly nurturing the team to be polite, respectful and pleasant. Ideally, when you are recruiting, you’ll be seeking that personality type along with the skills that you need. It can be hard work to teach good habits (and good manners) so recruiting the right person makes your life much easier. Just be sure you’re doing the right thing so that those great employees want to stay forever. Remember that if you (as the business owner) look after your team, then they in turn will look after your customers. Your customers in turn look after your income and profits. It comes full circle.