Once, in the middle of a major consulting assignment I chatted with two managers about the prior customer service training that they had sponsored for their staff.
With derision in his voice, one described the program as “Please & Thank You" training.
Well that’s pretty mindless and wasteful, I recall thinking.
But now, I have a different viewpoint. I believe every customer interfacing person should be taught the importance of saying please and thank you at least five times more often.
It was either Aristotle or Plato who reportedly said that education is the one good thing in life that we can’t get too much of, though I don’t think they encountered chocolate.
But we can definitely add to that short list, courtesy.
Customers love hearing please and thank you, repeatedly, because it makes them feel important. And by uttering these words, we remind ourselves who comes first, in business.
Over the years, there has been a steady democratizing of the employee-customer relationship, and I’m not sure it has been that productive. One sign of it is when a banking CSR asks you who he is speaking to, and you reply with your full name, and he then uses your first name through the remainder of the conversation.
Who authorized him to take such a liberty?
Growing up, the etiquette I learned was that we use someone’s formal name, i. e. Dr. Mr. or Ms. along with the last name, if the person is older, if the person has higher status or power, if we have just met, or until we have been invited by that person to be less formal.
But again, the presumption is that we’re ceding authority and power to the customer. If we think we’re superior or equals, then I suppose we’ll dispense with this customary etiquette.
Some CEO’s like to invert the order of importance, saying that their employees come first, customers second, and stockholders, third. There’s nothing wrong with lionizing your staff, but does it have to come at the expense of other constituencies?
No matter, I’m sure front-line folks wouldn’t mind hearing please and thank you from their managers 500% more often, as well!
Dr. Gary S. Goodman © 2006
Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of Customersatisfaction.com , is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary’s programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org .