Etiquette in Customer Service Interactions

etiquette in customer service

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

The dictionary describes etiquette as “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.”

What is etiquette in customer service?

Etiquette in customer service is conduct that is acceptable to customers. It is a behavior that encompasses the expectations customers have when doing business with the company. Etiquette is the soothing balm and oiling that the business machinery requires. It allows interactions, meetings, and customer relationships to run smoothly and makes businesses work without bottlenecks.

Etiquette in Customer Service will calm angry customers. It builds the basis of trust and loyalty and fosters mutually respectful relationships between the company and its customers. There are different tools that customer service can use to provide the right information to customers. An example of such a tool is interactive decision tools.

Workplace etiquette

Today’s mode of communication is fast, relentless, and visible, owing to social media and other digital communication. Companies are increasingly focusing on shaping the image of their brand and are also depending heavily on employees. In a company, the employee makeup is very diverse. The definitions of etiquette and social behavior probably differ from one to the next. The behavior exhibited by employees will determine whether the company comes across as professional or rude and abrasive. Customers are completely put off by rude and brusque mannerisms. Etiquette in Customer Service is a skill that can be easily taught with sustained training and coaching. Knowing how to behave socially will help the employees to create a positive image for the company. It enhances the reputation of the brand.

Communication etiquette

Customers have many more communication channels by which they can now interact with customer service agents. This front-ending staff has to, among other things, mind their manners. Ensure their tone, demeanor, and facial expressions reflect respect and etiquette while serving the customer. Eye contact, a smile, good posture, and a confident manner of speaking are all aspects of etiquette in Customer Service. Employees have to be constantly mindful of these outward expressions.

Professionalism

Would you like to be served by an ill-kempt, slouched, and brusque-mannered customer service staff? This is the intangible part of customer service that agents cannot hope to succeed without. Consequently, the company they represent will either have a great reputation or be completely pulled down by customer comments. When customer service staff is thoroughly and adequately trained, they are more confident when serving the customers. They are able to portray the brand much more effectively. With time etiquette, they become part of their persona and they would conduct themselves more professionally. Behaving appropriately decreases customer frustration and complaints and raises the overall standard of customer service. As with all aspects, satisfied customers are happy. Happy customers become loyal and lead the company toward success.

On many occasions, customer service staff that is not trained in etiquette in customer service will not even be aware of unacceptable behavior. Consistent, good practices and coaching in etiquette will make it a way of life. Managers should recognize and praise any behavior that reflects etiquette in customer service. This is a way to reinforce this behavior in the staff dealing with customers. Etiquette creates an environment of professionalism and fosters respect.

Types of customer etiquette in customer service

Several ways manifest etiquette in customer service. It also has various benefits. These are:

Email Etiquette

Etiquette while writing emails is just as vital as interacting with the customer face to face. Written communication must reflect the company’s values and should be able to impress the customer. The communication must be precise, and courteous. It should reflect the personal appearance of the person writing it. A badly written email will be seen as an extension of the person and the company this person represents.

Telephone etiquette

Telephone etiquette is another vital component of customer service. The customer service staff should answer calls promptly with a smile and courteous greeting. The person answering the call must state their name and department. They should remain cool and composed irrespective of the customer’s demeanor. It would be even better if the caller is addressed by name and a few pleasantries exchanged.

Etiquette adds value to the company’s image

Etiquette in Customer Service can add tremendous value to your company’s image. A lack of it can strip your company’s reputation almost immediately. Etiquette training for staff must be seen as an investment. The payoffs are many and guide employee behavior even outside the office premises. People who know how to behave in social interactions appear more confident and likable. As the average age of staff is getting lower, it is even more important to fit into the socially accepted norms and customer service behavior that long-time and older customers find acceptable.

It shapes customer perceptions

Etiquette in Customer Service is what shapes customer perceptions of your company and brand. Customers form impressions, obviously, based on the interactions they have with the customer service staff. It is these impressions that will determine their journey with your company. Customer service agents that have been able to convey politeness and professionalism leave their customers with a positive impression. They are confident that the company is attentive to their expectations and requirements. When customers are confronted with negative behavior, they form impressions that will not do much for the company’s reputation. Even a single negative comment on social media is enough to start a ‘movement’ of negativity for your company.

Employees are efficient and productive


Well-trained and well-mannered employees are also more efficient and productive. They would understand the importance of punctuality, meeting deadlines, dressing appropriately, speaking clearly and politely, and other such social and business-acceptable behaviors. People who have no idea of what such behavior is, normally come across as self-centered, rude, and callous, even if they are not so. Therefore, it’s imperative to take etiquette training seriously. It not only helps in the business setting but also all social interactions.

Guides employees on how to behave on unfamiliar grounds

Etiquette also helps employees understand how to behave in cultures and interactions on unfamiliar grounds. Etiquette in customer service helps the staff understand how to react and treat customers that may be from different cultures, countries, or economic standing. It would be easier to handle and master diverse cultural scenarios.

Every interaction a company or its representatives have with customers or potential ones has an impact on the success or failure of that company. Etiquette in customer service is the sure-shot way to ensure that customer service levels remain high and are not compromised often. Customers are unlikely to wait around to understand why someone from the company was rude or disrespectful to them. Customers demand respect and deserve it too. Even everyday interactions with other people require respect and an understanding of how to behave. Customer relations are at the heart of every business. It is this communication that will determine whether a company will be able to attract and retain its customers.

Every staff member, and especially, the customer service agents must typify customer service excellence. By attending training and coaching programs on etiquette, customer service staff will always be able to maintain a professional demeanor. Dealing with difficult and or angry customers would not be a great challenge. It would be easier for such staff to calm such customers. Serving customers this way tells them that they can trust the company. They will also be mindful of their behavior in the future.

Final Verdict

With increased technology, servicing customers and meeting their demands has become even more challenging. However, when etiquette in customer service becomes a top priority, managing these challenges becomes enjoyable. Such agents can suitably reflect and complement the values and ethics of the company they work for. It contributes to their personal and company success. This must be ongoing and consistent. Customers can see this as the norm of the company. It’s not a one-off depending on the mood of the agent they interact with.

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Interactive Decision Tree