Manners Maketh the Man
I can’t remember when I first heard the phrase “Manners Maketh the Man”, but it has always stuck with me. Being polite to one another is an all too uncommon trait in people these days, especially for how little it costs us as people to be polite to one another. It’s something that one of my mentors, and my good friend, Chris Murphy goes to great lengths to try and instill in his students, that being polite costs us nothing but can make someone’s day so much better.
It’s the Little Things
I recently saw this tweet by David Heinemeier Hansson, on the topic of how conversations tend to start in the US:
Lived in the US a decade. Still can't get over the bizarre hello protocol: "Hey, how are you? Great, thanks. How about you? Good, thanks!"
— DHH (@dhh) August 28, 2014
Last month I spent a couple of weeks in the US visiting friends, and I saw this a lot but I didn’t stick to the standard script. I replied sincerely, and it showed in the responses that I received from people. Staff at stores who had gone through the motions with countless people, almost as automatons, were suddenly smiling and conversing, where they’d been quiet with every other customer. They seemed a little bit happier, a little bit more alive, whilst we were talking.
The same is true here in Northern Ireland as well. Chris Murphy talks about the importance of saying “thank you” to people. It doesn’t cost us anything to say, but to a bus driver who has been sat behind the wheel for hours it can truly brighten their day. This politeness can lead to recognition, and when you become a regular customer you would be amazed at what can happen.
Being nice to people goes beyond being polite in our personal lives. We’ve all, at some point or another, had to deal with customer or technical support from a company we’ve bought something from. How many good experiences have you had during these interactions? Few to none in most cases.
At Get Invited I tend to serve as our first point of contact for people experiencing problems using Get Invited. 90% of these requests are easily dealt with, amending a customer invoice or directing people to contact an event organiser. Sometimes, though, things require a little bit more effort, and paying attention at these times can be really beneficial.
Some time ago I received a support request from a customer who had purchased a ticket to an event. The support ticket came in with the title “Please Help Me” and there was no content in the ticket. How could I help in this situation?
We have a rather comprehensive set of tools that tracks what’s going on with our systems, and I was able to confirm that a similar email address had been used to purchase a ticket, but that the email containing the ticket had been Hard Bounced when being received. It was a case of a typo’d email address. I was also able to see that the company in question had also recently rebranded itself, taking on a new name and, along with it, a new domain name.
I could have replied asking this person how I was able to help them but, after investing 5 minutes of my time, I was able to reply to them explaining the situation, offer a solution, and ask them where they would like their ticket email sent to. The result was a much happier customer. It was also an easy thing for me to do, and dramatically sped up the resolution of the issue for this customer. Everybody won.
I also deal with sending invoices to our customers. This puts me in direct contact with the people who make our business a success. It’s one of the opportunities that allows us to directly interact with our customers, and to show them that we care about them.
When I’m sending out invoices I take the time to add a custom message to each email I send. When it’s my first time sending them an invoice I make sure to explain how our system works, and reassure them that no money is owed, as we charge our commission when a sale is made. I also always try and include a message that is tailored to the customer.
Sometimes these messages are simply hoping that the weather where the customer is is better than here in Belfast, but I have also congratulated people on recent announcements they have made or asked if they were able to enjoy a recent holiday. This has helped establish relationships with several of our customers, all for the investment of a couple of minutes of my time. This investment helps me to get to know our customers a little bit better, but also lets our customers know that we care about them and that they can approach us at any point should they feel the need.
Manners are Easy, and the Benefits are Substantial
A barista in a coffee shop that can remember your order, and have it ready for you when you call in is great. A barista who can remember your order for a year and recall what it is when you happen to call in… that will stick with you. It’s the rare kind of exceptional experience that helps foster loyalty.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take a great amount of effort to be polite to others, to provide a memorable experience, and it can help to turn around the worst of days. It can help us in our personal lives, but it can help make our professional lives better, too. Isn’t that worth the investment of a few minutes of our day?