Tag Archives: business etiquette

Covid’s Lasting Impact on Professional Conduct

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This blog post on Covid’s lasting impact on professional conduct is written from the perspective of a business etiquette expert living in Savannah, Georgia, the Hostess City.

Whoever thought that six months after the coronavirus emerged in the US, we would still be suffering its effects in all aspects of our lives? Few of us believe that things will be the same as they were pre-pandemic. A question on the minds of many is what the long-term effects on our business and professional conduct will be.

Emerging from Corona

My home, Savannah, has long been noted for its charm and grace. Visitors to our city are wowed by our cordiality and friendliness. When we emerge from COVID-19, fearful of physical contact and personal interactions, will we still be able to display that Southern charm for which we are renowned? If we must hide behind masks and practice social distancing, can we maintain the hallmarks of our unique business environment and Southern hospitality? How will your city survive?

It can be done, but it will be different. The firm handshake that defines the business professional may become a faint memory. Hugs and kisses, also part of our business culture, may also fade away while we wait to learn that it is “safe to go back into the water.” Thank you, “Jaws” director Steven Spielberg.

Meeting and Greeting Post Pandemic

How will we meet and greet others from this point on? What will happen to the handshake?  If you are not comfortable shaking hands, decide now how you will handle that. Be ready to say, “Please excuse me for not shaking your hand, but I am not comfortable doing that yet.” Nothing else needs to be said.

I am not a fan of fist or elbow bumps in the business environment. They are too close for comfort and not worthy of a polished professional.

Wining and Dining

Wining, dining and conducting business over meals, a critical part of relationship building, will not be the same. Until we feel confident that the virus is not a threat to our collective health, something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee may be complicated.

When you consider where to meet for your business meal, you will want to check with the restaurant about their safety precautions. Make sure that they are following the recommended guidelines so you can concentrate on the business at hand and not worry about the environment.

Smiling through Your Face Mask

Face masks will be part of daily business attire, making it challenging to exhibit charm and friendliness, but it can be done. Although people cannot see your smile through your mask, they can hear it in your tone of voice and see it through your eye contact. It has never been so much what you say as the way you say it that counts.

Professional Conduct Will Survive

For the foreseeable future, there is little doubt that it will be necessary to follow the safety guidelines currently in place. Life will be different, and it will take some getting used to. Old habits may have to be broken, but courtesy and kindness (aka professional conduct) do not have to fall victim to the coronavirus. Whatever needs to be done to protect ourselves and others going forward can be done with the same grace and charm that Savannahians have always shown in their personal and professional lives.

Etiquette Dilemmas Created by Coronavirus

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We are now in the sixth month of the Corona Pandemic and etiquette dilemmas abound. People have begun to venture out into the world while others are still sheltering at home. Businesses are slowly and with a tinge of trepidation beginning to reopen. Some organizations have found they can operate efficiently with their employees working from home. Safety, health and welfare remain top of mind.

The world we are coming back to is far different and more socially confusing than the one we lived in pre-pandemic. It is fraught with awkward moments and challenging situations. If you were uncertain of how to conduct yourself in business and daily life five months ago, you are finding this period even more perplexing.

Everything has changed–from how we meet and greet others to how we interact with our colleagues. We are used to handshakes and hugs. No more of those. We are accustomed to sitting down at work to discuss an issue with a coworker. Forget that. We don’t go to meetings anymore—they come to us. If you are late for an appointment, you can’t blame getting stuck in traffic unless you tripped over your kids’ toys trying to get to your desk. You used to know what to wear to work. Now that you are at home, how should you dress for that Zoom meeting?

When we go out into the world, we wear a face mask. When we encounter another person, we sometimes have trouble deciding “who is that masked man?” It’s hard to understand what people are saying when masks muffle the sound. To me, the most troubling thing is figuring out if that person is smiling or not. And are you sure that you are six feet apart?

Restaurants are now allowing in-house dining. When local laws mandate that we wear face masks in public, how does that work in a dining situation? You can’t eat with a mask on so now what?

There are clear answers to most of those questions.

About the handshake: The easiest way to deal with that is to simply say to the person you are greeting, “Please excuse me for not shaking your hand, but I am not comfortable doing that during this time.” Some people are doing the elbow bump, but it is usually done more in fun and in casual settings. It is definitely not a formal business greeting. Only time will tell whether the handshake will survive.

When you can’t sit down with your coworker in person, there are options. The old-fashioned phone comes to mind. If you prefer to see that person, arrange for a Zoom session, Facetime or one of the other communication platforms. Be kind and don’t surprise your colleague with Facetime if they were not expecting you. You wouldn’t go to their house without alerting them that you were coming. Same thing with video calls.

What’s the answer to what to wear for a Zoom meeting? Unless you are meeting with a high-level executive, there is no need for formal business attire. A clean pressed shirt or a nice blouse will do. Some people are now claiming to have a “Zoom shirt” or “Zoom blouse”. It hangs over the back of their chair or on a hook behind the door. It goes on when the call comes in and off when the call is over. If you are still wearing your pajama bottoms, don’t stand up during the call.

As for those face masks at a restaurant, you need to wear one into the restaurant and while waiting for your table. Wear it when you sit down and while ordering. Only remove it when your food or beverage arrives. Common sense would say that you put your mask back on as you exit.

Little remains the same as it was pre-pandemic. Be patient and be considerate. Keep in mind that others are probably just as confused as you are. As we hear so often “We are all in this together.”

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com.

Will the Handshake Fall Victim to Corona?

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The handshake, as we know it now, is in danger of becoming extinct, much to the delight of some and to the chagrin of others. During this crisis in addition to practicing social distance, washing our hands constantly, not touching our face, we have been advised not to shake hands. Eventually, we will be able to gather with others socially and professionally. When we do, we may remember to wash our hands frequently. We may think twice before touching our face. But what will become of the handshake? If Dr. Fauci of the Corona Taskforce has his way, the handshake will be history. I have the utmost respect for Dr. Fauci.

I am not disagreeing with Dr. Fauci. I am wondering just how this will work. After all, we have been shaking hands for centuries. Mo Rocca of CBS interviewed an anthropologist who stated that the handshake dates back 60 million years. He said it is “a very primal sort of connection, very emotional.” He pointed out that chimpanzees and gorillas long for tactile contact and do much the same thing as humans. We all like that physical connection.

Throughout history the handshake has been a sign of peace and respect. We shake hands with our right hand. Some say that has its origins in medieval times. Knights used the right hand because that was the one that drew the sword. Engaged in a handshake, the knight was not able to draw his sword and strike.

Today we extend a handshake in both social and business situations. We offer our hand when we meet people, when we leave people, when we thank someone, congratulate someone or offer an apology. If that age-old practice goes away, what will we do? While there are options, one thing is for sure, there will be many awkward moments.

Before you head out into the world of the “new normal’, decide how you want to deal with the issue and plan what you will say. If you choose to remain a fan of the handshake, don’t assume other people are. You might approach by asking people how they feel about shaking your hand. If they don’t want to engage, assure them that you understand. If you are anti-handshaking, say so right away. You might say, “Please forgive me for not shaking your hand, but in light of all we’ve been through, I am not comfortable doing so.”

Some people are turning to the East for guidance and choosing the Indian greeting Namaste. You bring both hands together and center them in front of your chest. Then make a small motion to bow while saying Namaste. In the Japanese tradition, the bow is another choice for staying germ-free.

One more greeting is simply holding up an open hand to others. That signals that you are not going to shake hands. It is generally readily understood. Just make sure your open hand doesn’t come across as “Whoa, back off.”

In case you end up shaking someone’s hand because it’s such an ingrained habit, pause before dousing yourself in hand sanitizer.

I have omitted the fist bump and elbow bump from my list of professional greetings. Need I say more?

Good manners and etiquette are about making people feel comfortable. Keep that in mind when you decide how to deal with shaking hands in a world that the Corona virus has changed forever.

Working Remotely: It’s Not Business As Usual

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Are you working remotely? Do I even need to say Corona virus for you to know where I am going?  In the last two weeks, our lives have changed drastically. It’s not business as usual. Social distancing has become business distancing. Vast numbers of people are working from home during this crisis. Employers are not just asking their people to work from home, they are mandating it.

So how do you handle working from home? Maybe it’s what you thought you always wanted. Now that you can, what do you do? It may be a bit more challenging than you realized.

As someone who has worked from home for 25 years, I have some suggestions for how to maintain your productivity and professionalism from your newly-created home work place.

Designate a specific space for your office. For some that maybe easier said than done. You may have to operate from a shared space. Not everyone has a spare room waiting to be used.  You may need to share your office with a spouse or partner who is also working remotely. The arrangement may not be ideal. Your new office could be your kitchen table. Share that with the whole family.

Set ground rules for others in the house. Just because you are at home doesn’t make you fair game whenever a family member wants to interrupt you.

Create a routine for starting your day. Model it after your previous schedule when you got up, dressed, and left for work. I call this “Let’s pretend.” Let’s pretend you are going to your away-from-home office.

Get dressed for work. Yes, dress for work. Get out of those pj’s. That will help get you in the right mindset. Additionally, you’ll be ready to present a professional image when you receive an unexpected video call.

Schedule your breaks and honor that time. You would be taking breaks in a traditional setting and not thinking much about your water-cooler time. You need to step away from your desk from time to time to refresh.

Don’t be hard on yourself. Take advantage of the perks. It’s okay to put in a load of wash or tend to other at-home duties. Cut yourself some slack.

Stay off social media during your business hours. Turn off everything that might be a distraction. Ouch!

Declare your WFH (work from home) hours. People need to know when you are available. Consider publishing your work hours online and putting them your voice mail greeting. That way people won’t assume that you are goofing off when they can’t reach you.

Establish an end of day routine.  Review the day, create a work plan for the following day, shut down your computer and leave the office.

These are just a few suggestions for working effectively from home. Most are good old common sense. Your organization probably didn’t have a playbook in place for this situation so everyone is working it out either alone or together. The goal is to stay focused, productive and professional while not being hard on yourself and your family—and that includes the dog.

The Business Apology

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The business apology can be worth its weight in gold when done properly. With an intentional strategy, it becomes a part of the overall customer experience and part of a plan involving customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. It goes without saying that an apology is critical when a company has made a mistake. Just as important, it needs to be part of the customer service approach when the company has not made a mistake, but the customer believes it has. It’s incredible how many organizations don’t know how, when, or even why to apologize and fail to train their employees on the value of uttering with sincerity the words, “I’m sorry.”

There are nine simple steps to a good business apology.

  1. Say, “I’m sorry.” In spite of what your lawyer may have told you, those should be the first words out of your mouth. (Note: If the incident could result in any kind of legal action or liability then delaying long enough to seek legal advice is prudent and necessary.)
  2. Be sincere. Your body language and tone of voice need to match your words. First, people believe what they see more than what they hear. A fake apology doesn’t fool anyone.
  3. React quickly. An apology that is several days old loses its credibility and effectiveness.       A lot of damage can be done if you wait too long.
  4. Drop the excuses. Take responsibility for whatever you said or did. You weaken your apology when you start piling on excuses such as “I was having a bad day” or “I just broke up with my girlfriend.” The last sentence actually came straight out of the mouth of a server in a restaurant. The customer was not impressed.
  5. Forget the blame game. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was. It happened.
  6. Make amends. Do whatever you can to set things right. I recently sent one of my products to a customer. The item did not arrive on the day I promised, and I had an unhappy individual on my hands. I apologized and sent a replacement overnight. There was an additional cost to me, but I won over the customer who has since come back for additional products and services. The shipping company was at fault, but the customer didn’t care and it was up to me to take responsibility and correct the situation.
  7. Don’t get defensive and argumentative. Once you get your dander up, you are headed for trouble and will only make the situation worse. One of my favorite sayings is “Never argue with an idiot.  Those watching may not be able to tell the difference.”
  8. Listen without interrupting.  When customers get upset, they need to vent.   Often they require something to chew on and that may be you. Let them. You may learn something important from what they say. When you interrupt people, you are likely to miss hearing valuable information that could help you resolve the issue.
  9. Finally, don’t go overboard and over-apologize.  Say what you need to say and do what you need to do, then move on. You will only make matters worse with excessive apologies. As the saying goes, “When you find yourself in a hole, don’t keep digging.”

People can come up with any number of reasons not to apologize, but there are many more reasons for the business apology.  Number one is because it is the right thing to do. Plus, it is good customer service, which is good for business and that’s good for the bottom line.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Texting in Business: the New Phone and the New Email

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Just a few short years ago would you have thought that texting in business would be a widely-accepted staple of  communication? Probably not, but then a decade ago, you would not have believed that email would be flooding your inbox. Thanks to texting, those overflowing inboxes are no longer consuming the better part of our day. Texting has become the new email and the new phone call.

Before we get into the subject of why, when and how to text, be assured that I am not suggesting that you abandon all other forms of communication in business. Hopefully, nothing will supplant real conversation over the phone or meeting face-to-face.

Why should you consider texting in business?

  1. Your customers prefer texting. Regardless of your preferred means of communication, it’s the customer who chooses. Because of all those spam calls, some people, even in business, do not answer their phones. Others won’t take your call because they don’t want to get involved in a lengthy phone conversation.
  2. Texting has a higher open and response rate. Studies show that people will open a text message while they ignore an email. And they are more likely to respond. Now that’s good business.
  3. Texting is a time– It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that texting is faster than making a phone call or sending an email.
  4. Texting is versatile. You can send out reminders, make appointments, schedule meetings and announce business updates. It’s a short sweet marketing toll. 

Before you embrace texting with all of its advantages, establish guidelines and set standards for yourself and your business. If you don’t, you can quickly spoil a business relationship.

What are the etiquette rules for texting in business?  

  1. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms unless your customer uses them. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you know or knows what you mean.
  2. Text at appropriate times. Is it after hours? Are you likely to be an intrusion?
  3. Use correct spelling. Yes, even in texting.
  4. Limit your number of texts you send. A nuisance will quickly lose credibility.
  5. Include your business name in each message. Again, make no assumptions.
  6. Consider your “why” for sending the message. Your customers need to know what you expect them to do. Do you have a “call to action” or an obvious reason for sending that text? Be clear about your purpose and give instructions for responding.
  7. Proof your text. Treat it just as would your email. Check your grammar, spelling, readability and especially the autocorrect. Texting makes assumptions. If you don’t double-check, it will replace what you wrote with some bizarre and unintended words.
  8. Get your customers’ permission before texting them. There are laws that govern texting in business. Know what they are. Ask your attorney or refer to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Texting is here to stay. People like it. Why? They like it because it is private. They like it because it leaves a record of conversations. They like it because it’s polite and respectful of others and acknowledges their busy lives.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

The New Year is Thank You Note Season

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Now that the holidays are almost over, and we find ourselves in the new year, it’s time to start sending out thank you notes for the thoughtful gifts and tasty treats you received during the season. Yes, I know, those are not the words you want to hear—especially since you know that I am talking about those handwritten notes that I continue to harp on. It would be so much easier and more convenient to text or email your gratitude. A few clicks of the keyboard, and you’re done.

However, when it comes to delighting those special gift-givers with the perfect sentiment at the perfect time, here are two things to consider:

  • Ink trumps email. Why? Ink implies effort.
  • Handwritten notes connect people in a way that simply isn’t possible via text or email. How? Your unique handwriting makes your message and therefore your relationship more personal.

Now that you understand the power of the handwritten note, what’s holding you back?

  • Is it the time? We all have the same number of hours and days.
  • Are you too busy? Everybody feels life is too demanding.
  • Do you lack the supplies you need? If you haven’t heeded my earlier advice and purchased appropriate cards or notes before the holiday rush, those items are still available. They do not sell out during the holidays.
  • Did you forget to buy stamps?  If so, no problem. The rush is over at the post office so pick up stamps while you’re out shopping for your stationary. Then write a note to self on your calendar for next fall that reminds you to buy your correspondence cards or notes and stamps early.

Finally, the greatest obstacle for most people is knowing what to say and how to say it? Those two things should be the least of your worries if you establish a process for writing your thank you notes and follow these steps:

Step 1. Decide how to address the recipient. Do you need to formal salutation or one that is casual? Are you going to call the person by first name or use their title and last name?

Step 2. Begin with “Thank you”. There’s no need to attempt anything more exotic than those two words.

Step 3. Name the gift specifically. Saying “Thank you for the gift’ is cold, off-putting and will make your recipients wonder if you value their gift or even know what it was. You might as well say, “Thank you for the thing.”

Step 4. Say something about the gift. What made it special? How will you use it? If someone sent your food items, tell them how much you either enjoyed the treats or how much you are looking forward to having them. Even if you are not thrilled with what you received, the giver need not know.

Step 5. Say how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness. This is really simple and always sincere. Who doesn’t appreciate being thought of?

Step 6. Choose your closing. Again…are you being formal or casual in your approach? Your salutation will determine your closing.

Think of your thank you note as a sandwich.

The opening and closing are the like the two slices of bread. Your thank you for the specific gift is the lettuce; the sentence about why you like the gift or how you will use it is the meat; the statement saying you appreciate their thinking of you is the cheese. Now wrap that in an envelope; garnish it with a stamp; and you have it. Just don’t forget to drop your handwritten thank you notes in the mail.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

 

 

Punctuality: Just On Time Is Not Good Enough

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Lately I have begun to wonder if punctuality is my habit. Last week, I found myself racing to get to an appointment. It was then that I realized  this was not uncommon behavior for me.  Instead it’s a regular occurrence. While I am never late–well, almost never,  I tend to get where I am going just in time rather than on time.

Punctuality

Living in Savannah, I am aware of “Savannah time.” No one is expected to show up early for a meeting or an event.  If a meeting starts at ten o’clock, they arrive at ten o’clock, not a minute before. Others wander in at their leisure, sometimes with an apology and an excuse, but usually with little or no remorse. I feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those late-comers.

Indeed I do have an issue with punctuality. Maybe it’s really a matter of time management. Whatever, I don’t always practice what I preach.

I seem to think I can get one more thing done before I leave. In today’s fast-paced world, we always try to do more in less time. For example, if the phone rings just as I am walking out the door, I feel obligated to answer it. When I finally get in the car and check the clock; I realize that only with a bit of luck and all green lights, I may be on time.

Vince Lombardi on punctuality

Years ago I read a quote that is typically attributed to coaching icon Vince Lombardi. Regardless of who said it, the words have the same effect. “If you are five minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, don’t bother to show up.”

The problem with being late

There are unintended consequences to being late. People who are chronically late send a message that their time is more valuable than other people’s. Those who don’t make an effort to be on time are seen as arrogant and inconsiderate. That sort of behavior won’t help your career or your business.

Suggestions to help you be on time and what to do when you aren’t.

Don’t stop to take the last phone call. You can check your voice mail later. If the call was important, the caller will have left a message.

Have everything you need for the meeting or event out and ready to go. Plan ahead so you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute trying to find one more thing—like your car keys or your cell phone.

Decide how long it will take you to get to the event and add some extra time. Allow for the unexpected like traffic jams, road construction and other unforeseen occurrences.

If you are not 100% sure where you are going, do a test run ahead of time if possible. No one will be impressed when you say you got lost. If you can’t check out the location in advance, again add in some extra travel time.

If the worst should happen and you enter the meeting late, quietly take a seat. This is no time to interrupt to make your apologies and to explain to everyone why you were late. No one really cares.

Check the agenda to see what items have already been covered. The late-comer who interrupts the meeting to ask about an issue that has already been discussed is never appreciated. Wait until the meeting is over to ask what you missed.

There is no excuse for being late. Barring true emergencies, being on time is completely within your control. Taking ownership of your time, knowing the importance of punctuality, and choosing never to be late again, is one easy thing you can do to change your life and career for the better.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. She is happy to work from home but has traveled as far as India and Dubai to help stamp out rudeness. Just think what a wonderful world it would be if people were simply nice. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Choosing Your Most Effective Email Closing

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You’ve worked hard crafting your email so that your message is clear, your tone is correct, your format is inviting, and you have eliminated all errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now it’s time to decide on an email closing, and you’re stuck. All else being perfect, the way you sign off requires more than a little thought and finesse. It may only be a word or a phrase, but it needs to be well-chosen.

If you are struggling to find the most effective email closing, you are far from alone. Extensive research on this topic—and yes, I did the research—revealed that opinions on this topic are all over the map. In one article three email etiquette experts were asked their stance on a long list of email closings. The end result turned up little agreement among the three. No wonder you find this subject challenging.

Before you decide how to sign-off, you should consider your relationship to the recipient and the context of the email. What works for a good friend or close colleague most likely will not work for a business contact. What is appropriate for an initial email may come across as too formal as your connection develops.

Here are my suggestions on choosing your most effective email closing.

    1. Always use one. Not signing off is like walking out the door without saying good-bye. Too abrupt.
    2. Match your email closing to your salutation. This column devoted time some months ago to using effective and appropriate email salutations. A formal salutation requires a formal closing. An informal salutation should be followed by an informal closing.
    3. Consider using a closing statement in lieu of a closing word or two. Email tends to be more relaxed so once you have established a relationship with the recipient, you might end your email with something like, “Have a nice day”, “See you on Friday” or “Enjoy your vacation”.
    4. Be respectful but avoid “Respectfully/Respectfully yours”. According to Business Insider those closings are too formal and are to be reserved for government officials and clergy.
    5. Proceed gingerly when expressing thanks. Both “Thanks” and “Thank you” get high marks when used in the right circumstances. The Boomerang study found emails that convey appreciation receive the highest response rate. However, there are some people who think that writing “Thank you in advance” comes across as demanding and should be used with caution.
    6. Keep anything with religious overtones out of your professional correspondence. Avoid wishing someone a blessed day.
    7. Following your closing, let people know how you want to be addressed. If you want to be addressed by your first name, use only that in closing. If you prefer to keep things formal, sign off with your first and last name. If you are “Bill” and not “William”, now’s your chance to let that be known.

As always the goal is to be courteous, kind and respectful. Let your good sense and good judgment be your guide.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Phone Courtesy – Winning Customers Instantly

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Phone courtesy needs to be rule # 1. Often the first contact you and others  in your company have with a client or customer is over the phone. Whoever answers your phone represents the entire organization and its philosophy about customer service.Impress your callers when you practice these phone courtesy tips.

Answer the phone promptly.

We live in a world of instant expectations. If you don’t answer the phone immediately, people assume that you are either closed for the day, gone out of business or simply provide poor customer service. Answer the phone as soon as it rings and grab that customer before your competition does.

Always identify yourself .

One of the top complaints about phone manners is that people fail to give their name.  People want to know to whom they are speaking.

Be prepared with pen and paper.

Don’t make callers wait while you search for pencil and paper. If you aren’t prepared to take information, perhaps you aren’t prepared to do business.

Take accurate messages.

With voice mail, we don’t have to take messages as often as we once did, but it happens. If the caller asks you to take a message rather than being transferred to voice mail, check that you have written all the information correctly. Double check the spelling of the caller’s name and repeat the phone number as well as the wording of the message.

Transfer calls smoothly.

Most of us cringe at the words “Let me transfer your call.”  Avoid “blind transfers”. Ask the caller to hold while you confirm that you are sending the call to the right person and that the person is indeed available.

Manage the hold key with care.

Surveys on phone courtesy reveal that people rank being put on hold as their biggest frustration. Ask your callers’ permission before placing them on hold and wait to hear their reply. Not waiting for permission will gain you nothing but an annoyed caller.

Put a smile on your face when you answer the phone.

You may not feel cheery, but  your callers don’t need to know. Smiles change the tone of your voice and can actually be heard over the phone. Fake it if you have to. Fake smiles over the phone are just as good as the real ones.

At the end of the day, ask yourself what kind of impression you made with callers. Was it your best?  Remind yourself that there is no such thing as an unimportant phone call and that you are the voice of the business.

For more tips on, invest in Lydia’s easy-to read book, Business Etiquette 101 – Telephone Courtesy. It’s a quick download for your Kindle.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.