Last week I received an email asking me if I could help with some customer service tips for this gentleman's business as it concerned common courtesy. He had read an article I'd written on common courtesy on a consultant group's site that I'm a part of in more ways than one.

I sent him an email back with some ideas,... he never got it. I know this because my email was bounced back to me within minutes via some program that this gentleman had, saying that, because I wasn't already on his list of subscribers, my email would not be allowed to go through. And, because he was from another country, there was no other way I could contact him.

My first thought was "well, one way to show some common courtesy for your business is to accept email". I understand that spam can be irritating (trust me on this one), but if you make it difficult for people to contact you as it regards business, then they won't try to contact you again, moving on to someone else who shows that they'd like the business.

Common Courtesy in customer service basically says that you want to make experiences comfortable for your customers, no matter whether you're talking to them on the phone, through email, or in person. Friendly greetings and thank yous are a nice touch. Smiles work nicely also.

And, of course, the words you use will convey certain things. A few days ago I was at an eye center buying a new pair of glasses. One of the women was on the phone talking to a customer, and overall she was being friendly, though loud. At one point, however, she said to this person on the phone "Now what did I just say to you?" My thought was that there's no real way to take that other than being reprimanded, no matter how nice you try to say it. If the person on the other end of the line had been me, I might not have responded well to that, because it smacks of condescension. As it is, the fact that I'm talking about it days later, when it didn't even involve me, tells you that I thought it was a very bad thing to do.

If one uses common sense, common courtesy shouldn't be such a tough issue.

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