Lost Business Etiquette

Image result for businessBusiness has changed drastically over the years with the introduction and expansion of technology. It is certainly not new news that with the advanced digital management, and digital communications, the art of many business practices, once revered, have gone underground, or died. Many simple skills which were once expected, respected, and practiced, are no longer ‘a thing’. Some skills and business practices are just simply forgotten, not taught, nor are they regular occurrences for the younger generations who rely heavily on digital communications and correspondence. The art of people skills, for example; kind written correspondence, a phone call, or requesting a lunch appointment, has transferred into short, brief communicating efforts. For example, the once hand written, kind, letter written with a business proposition, acquisition, or confirmation, etc…is now simply handled as a brief, short email, or text.

I have personally been appalled at some recent business practices with small business owners who have failed in the special art of what I consider as …

The Three Business Golden Rules.

  1. Honoring your word.
  2. Treating other’s as you would want to be treated.
  3. Not taking things personally.

There are, however, a few other business etiquette guidelines to follow. The benefit of following these simple guidelines is to retain your existing customers. Not losing business is VITAL to the success of a company no matter how big or small. Yes, customers come and go, but why risk letting them go based on the negligence of following simple rules that greatly increase the customer staying happy and loyal?

So the first etiquette golden rule, Honoring your word, should be a no-brainer. If you can not keep a commitment, OK, everyone gets it; life gets in the way. We get sick, we have family that gets sick, people have unexpected surgery, funerals, an accidental over-booking, or accidental double booking, a hang nail, the dog throwing up…everyone has life hit them with an unexpected issue creating the need to break your word. But, WHY…(someone please tell me!) WHY…a person doesn’t have the respect for their customer’s (or worse, first time customer’s) time? WHY would they not call and at least let them know they are running late, can’t make it with the intention to reschedule? WHY must a business person leave their customer ‘waiting’ ‘guessing’ or ‘expecting’ them to show up? It’s like holding someone hostage when they have spent time preparing for the appointment, as in: finding a sitter, making arrangements for children, pets, other people in their life, etc…to accommodate the appointment time.  Here’s a worse scenario; customer’s preparing work for the appointment, only to have to back track and undo the work because the person did not honor their word and come. My husband and I laid out a tedious job of a landscaping material, needed prior to the second step we requested from a contractor. When our contractor didn’t call, or show up – 3 days in a row-without calling or texting to reschedule, we had to pull up our work. This appointment, by the way, was made at the contractors request because I had suggested leaving a drawing for the location needed and leave the check. However, he insisted on coming by to know ‘for sure’ where the locations were for his part. Commendable. But totally inconsiderate to not communicate.   We felt bound up with our time, never knowing if the contractor was going to arrive, arrive late, or not show up at all. After two attempts to reach out, where he did respond to say, “can’t today” on the first day, second time, I reached out to ask if he was still coming as pre-planned the day before, his response: “well, it’s yucky outside”. Third day, I never reached out after the no-show. Each day I gave a window of time that was best. However, without any word, text, call, or email, it was extremely unkind, disrespectful, and unprofessional. How hard is it to just simply let someone know? NEWSFLASH!! It’s OK in business to tell someone what you know will disappoint them; truth is better than no news at all. Having integrity in business is extremely important; but maintaining integrity is MORE IMPORTANT!

Here are some bullet points of other very important business practices that will help gain customers, increase repeat business, and increase word-of-mouth referrals. Most of them have to do with the same guidelines you would want to have with relationships. What creates the best businesses? Those in which customers or team members feel like friends, because businesses have treated them with respect, maintained honest practices, and dealt with business matters kindly, efficiently, honestly, and left no ‘guess work’ about anything.

  • Fortune is in the Follow Up! Always follow-up in a timely manner; people become impatient and do not want, nor are willing, to ‘wait’ for a lengthy amount of time to hear back from the company they chose to reach out to! How does it feel to you, to be ‘waiting’ for a long…….time to hear back from someone?
  • Understand that not everyone will want what you have, be interested in your offer, or comply to your way of doing business. If we all agreed in every way, on everything, how boring would the world be?  Don’t take matters of business personally. Don’t judge other’s when they do not align their word’s or behaviors with ‘your way’. Allowing life’s path to take its course, by either accepting, or letting go, feels a lot more freeing and peaceful than energy spent resisting, persuading, or fighting for something. No one changes their ways based on commands, but rather; most changes are created by inspirational feelings that alter emotions. This is critical in relationship building, and in growing a business.
  • Kindness matters! Recently, I entered the vet for an appointment. I was five minutes after the 5:00 appointment time due to a wreck. As I approached the counter, the administrator never looked up and made eye contact with me. (HUGE BUSINESS ETIQUETTE HERE….{a nugget within a nugget, lol!} ALWAYS HAVE GOOD, UNINTERRUPTED EYE CONTACT!) I said, I am here for the vaccinations with the Vet’s tech, we have an appointment. Told her my dogs names, and she (still without making any eye contact) replied, “Well, it’s a good thing you got here when you did!” I asked, “why?” She said, “Cuz we don’t take appointments after 5:30.” I said, “Well, I don’t understand, we have an appointment.” The staff member ‘huffed’ (still never looking up) and said nothing as she typed away on her computer. I waited…..waited….about a minute or longer…..still no words….so I walked away. 15 minutes later, approximately 5:20 pm, they called our name to be seen. Worst customer service, ever!
  • Cleaning up your work space! Nothing is more frustrating for other employee’s, clients homes, or offices a company may visit to do work, than a business person to leave behind the mess generated from their work. It speaks a message loud and clear: Business person does not respect their clients space. Business person does not clean up after their self. Business person does not care enough about the customer to leave the space cleaner than they found it.
  • INVITE or COMMUNICATE about happenings, meetings, events, or important occurrences like training, or recognition celebrations, team functions, etc…IN A TIMELY MANNER!  Talk about inconsideration of your employee’s or team mates time? And also, putting your fellow business associates in a very bad predicament; send out a text at the last-minute to inform them of a special event. How rude. This practice is not that of a professional leader. A caring, relationship building leader, lets their partner’s know, IN AMPLE ADVANCE about the important details concerning a company event or meeting. To expect them to comply with late notice is not only disrespectful, but it shows lack of caring enough about the event to give proper notification. People have lives outside of work. Unless they are a salary employee, obligated to a so-called ‘beck & call’ type work arrangement, then there is just no excuse for late notice. How would you like it if your child or husband sprung on you, that they have a ‘need’ that you need to support, but it’s happening in 2 hours. You are expected to attend or help; would you be able to do that? Most people would feel put out, and feel as though there was a communication breach in the family or leadership.
  • Honor the chain of command!  In business, the person just above you in position of authority should always be spoken to about a situation that needs attention. If that person does not resolve the issue, then, and only then, is it business-appropriate to go one step higher. If, to no avail for solving, then the next higher up is to be contacted. It is when a business person speaks of the negative situation or problem to another fellow employee, or takes the matter to the President, before the middle management has been informed, that the problem can be more devastating. It is certainly, in every business industry, appropriate and desirable to follow the chain of command rule.
  • Always respect an employee’s privacy. If a manager, or director, or person of higher position must speak to a fellow worker, an employee, or someone in a lower position than themselves, they must always do so ‘in private’. It is never appropriate to reprimand someone in front of the other workers, or team. It is however, highly favorable to ‘praise’ a worker in front of other’s and the staff or team. The goal in building relationships and camaraderie within a team, or group is to increase feelings of appreciation, gratitude,  giving encouragement and praise to build worker’s up; while eliminating ridicule, criticism, and reprimands outside of evaluation time or private times for discussing performance, or doing performance reviews.

For more information on good ‘life’ practices, life coaching tips and relationship advice, and available audios for downloading, be sure to visit findingandkeepinglove.com. This blog is: annalisaotoole.com. Also visit: askannalisa.com to learn more about Life Coach Annalisa, her podcast, and upcoming book launch and life coaching services.