Thanks A Lot
When was the last time you received a thank you note that someone took time to hand write, put in an envelope with a stamp and mail to you? Most of us consider ourselves lucky to get a brief mention of thanks buried in an email.
And speaking of email, how many times do you send an email or leave a voice mail requesting a call back from someone and never hear a peep in return? Only to leave you with no choice than to continue to call and waste your valuable time. The typical excuse for not getting a return call is “I just haven’t had time”. Don’t you just want to scream, “and what…I have time to just keep calling you until I’m ever so blessed to hear your voice on the other end of the line?”
Lack of consideration and an abundance of self absorption is a reflection of our times. There’s a manners crisis in American society today. Management guru Tom Peters says “customer service in America stinks.” We all have a responsibility to behave with compassion for our fellow human beings, and in the business world that means practicing a little business etiquette.
Communication is two way. One person talks, the other person actively listens, equals two way communication. Okay, so there might be a little more back and forth here, but you get the idea. Communication is not about verbalizing or sending an email and not getting any response. No, that would be called the “Talking Head” syndrome. When you send out a request, or your thoughts, or some helpful information, you expect to be acknowledged. That’s all. Nothing extraordinary. Just a simple “thanks for the info” would suffice. Internal communication at work is no less important.
We have a client, Sharon who expressed her frustration with a fellow employee who never acknowledged the small thank you gifts she would give. Sharon relied on her co-worker for his dedication and expertise, so from time to time, she would buy him a gift card for coffee, the electronics store, ice cream or some such thing. The gifts were small ranging in price from $10 to $50. But Sharon would never hear a word in return. Nothing. Nada. Guess what the end result was? Eventually Sharon quit buying gifts of gratitude for her co-worker, and even worse, eventually she quit saying thanks. Oh, and it gets worse. Eventually Sharon resented her fellow employee for his rudeness and he resented Sharon for not being appreciative of his help.
Business etiquette is a broad topic and encompasses everything from how you make business introductions, to who pays the tab for a business meal. One thing for sure are the details, however small they may seem, are what will help you stand out as a service star. Here are a few suggestions to set the tone with your customers and co-workers.
- Send a card. It stands out. It takes five minutes, tops. It shows you’re thinking of your client. It shows you are unique…and I mean that in a very positive way.
- Respond to your messages and try to do it the same day. Okay, sometimes you may be lucky to get a response out the same week. Depending on your profession, organization and maybe just depending on your day, returning calls and emails in a timely fashion can be a challenge, but an absolute necessity. Wrap up your day by making sure you have captured all your “to do’s” including returning calls and emails.
- Acknowledgement is different from responding. Acknowledgement is a courtesy; responding is a necessity. Acknowledging a message is simple. It takes three minutes or less. It demonstrates your appreciation for the information. It gives you an opportunity to confirm your understanding and it shows you’re alive and kicking. .
Showing consideration for others is the foundation for turning the manners crisis into a service revolution, which is nothing short of what is needed. By beginning with the smallest details in our human interactions, we can begin to see big changes in our society and the way we serve one another.
- Say thank you to your co-workers, employers, clients and all the people who are thoughtful enough to say and do kind things for you. What a gift to have people in your life that take the extra time to show their appreciation for you. Don’t take that for granted. Don’t allow yourself to ever feel entitled to gifts you receive in life.