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“Kindness and courtesy are at the root of a positive customer service experience.” – Shep Hyken
You cannot deny the importance of etiquette in our everyday lives. In a business scenario, a lack of etiquette towards customers can break your company. The very premise of customer service is to treat customers with kindness, courtesy, and genuine interest. These form the cardinal rules, and ignoring them would spell out a disaster for a company.
From our own experience as customers, we know that even a single instance of discourtesy and apathy could lead us away from a company and its offerings. No matter how good they are. Etiquette toward customers is not nice to have alone. It is an absolute must if a company expects customers to remain with them and attract more business through them. To provide quintessential etiquette to your customers, you can use a tool. With interactive decision trees, you can deliver the right information to your customers and improve customer satisfaction.
How to show etiquette towards customers
A company that professes customer-centricity should build a culture where etiquette towards customers is a given. Each person in the company should understand the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor while interacting with customers. They are well-equipped to manage angry customers, get reluctant customers to share feedback, and cooperate.
The employees should provide the most accurate solutions to customers and other such indicators of etiquette towards customers. Of course, customer service representatives should have a heightened sense of courtesy and etiquette, given the fact that they deal with customers more often and for myriad reasons. These interactions can range from customer queries to irate customers. However, in all interactions, they should exhibit the same etiquette toward customers.
Etiquette towards customers (and in general) is displayed by remaining cheerful, interested, and providing service to them. It is a known fact that a smile can be ‘seen’ even through the phone. Hence, when service representatives answer calls, they should be courteous, in order for their demeanor and smile to be ‘visible’ to the customer. No one likes to speak to a grumpy person. Besides, being rude and grumpy towards customers will cost a business. The customer service representative’s demeanor and cheerfulness can help to soothe the nerves of a highly stressed and disgruntled customer.
Among the many jobs of a customer service person, a key portion includes building relationships with customers. However, as part of etiquette towards customers, relationships should never compromise professionalism. It is never acceptable to use the relationship as a basis to be casual or use slang or obscenities. Remember not to address the customer by their first name. Unless they indicate their acceptance for you to address them so.
Being professional and displaying etiquette towards customers also include being completely transparent and totally honest with them at all times. If there are times when a customer service representative is unable to help the customer immediately, they must say so. Customers prefer the truth since even one incident of lying, might disrupt their faith in the company forever.
When customers connect, they are actually making a huge effort. At times, it could be a negative frame of mind, especially, when the discomfort is due to the company they are connecting with. As part of etiquette towards customers, the service representatives must remain calm. They should express their willingness to help and also let the customer know that they completely understand the situation. Now, this is empathy. By displaying this, even the most harried customer tends to calm down.
It allows you to provide them with a solution. Showing disrespect or refusing to listen to the customer could potentially blow up into a full-fledged complaint. It could also lead to negative comments on social media or the customer breaking ties with the company. All a customer needs is to be heard and given a solution that will serve to remove their problem.
Having customer knowledge
One of the reasons that customers become disgruntled is when the person they are connected with seems ‘out of place’. That is, lacking knowledge, training, and skill to manage customers. While the service representatives should follow some set guidelines and procedures while attending to customers, appearing fixated and robotic will never be acceptable to customers.
Ensure that when a customer connects, the service representatives always have the customer’s ‘history’ easily available. This saves the customer time and effort in explaining repeatedly their ‘situation’ with the company. It presents an extremely thorough and professional image of the company. Reducing waiting time and customers’ effort in doing business with your company constitutes a very large part of etiquette towards customers.
After interacting with the customer, the service representatives should follow two things. First, they should update the interaction in the centralized system with their comments. Second, they must ensure that any commitment or deliverable that emerged during the interaction is done. Being responsible is about keeping the promises made by the company. It can be perceived as etiquette towards customers. Imagine your delight, if a company comes back to you with a solution or whatever it promised! All customers love to feel important and valued. These are part of the reason they would stick with a company.
The opportunity to display etiquette towards customers is visible during face-to-face interactions. The kind that happens in stores or at the company’s office. It can be inappropriate for the staff to speak loud amongst themselves or seem uninterested in the customer. How often have you walked into a store and encountered staff that is busy on their mobile phones or chatting with their co-workers? Does it not rile you? When the customer is on the premises, they are the most important people.
It is extremely rude to ignore them or show them feigned interest. Customers are at your premises for a reason. They are certainly not there to hear your staff speaking about their personal problems, issues with their co-workers, or irreverence towards the management. It is never acceptable or permissible to conduct oneself like so in the presence of customers. In fact, customers might never return if they were subject to this kind of treatment.
Is etiquette towards customers important?
It may seem hard and too much to ask for. But, even if a company representative is not in the best mood or is having a rough day, being impolite and lacking etiquette towards customers is a complete no. It is important to remain composed, smiling, and genuinely helpful toward customers. That is what they expect.
Of course, in the event that the customer is abusive and mouthing obscenities, the customer service person has every right to tell them and stop the conversation midway. However, in most cases, the customer is riled because of some impropriety of the company. Remember not to take the tone or the words of the customer personally. Their anger is not towards a person. It is the duty of the company representative to placate them and provide them with the most effective and immediate solution possible.
Through etiquette towards customers, a company can benefit in more than one way. It is able to engage customers for life, become a trusted partner, get repeat business, and attract more business. Customers are quick to perceive faults. But when they receive consistency and excellence, they are sure to reward your company too. Over time, etiquette towards customers forges strong bonds that no competitor can take away from the company.