images   Though we are more relaxed as a society in general and don’t tend to follow the strict manners and protocol of previous generations, etiquette is extremely important to your small business. Your customers notice it and talk about it with others. It can often make the difference between a good business and a great business.

Many small business owners make the mistake of not adhering to certain rules, which even in our technological era, are still expected. If they have employees, the employees are not trained to deal with customers over the phone properly and know even less about how to deal with clients in person.

When greeting customers, it is expected that you will shake hands and listen when you are introduced. Remembering your customer’s names and greeting them by name shows you care about them and their business. If they have called you and left a message, always reply as quickly as you can and the same goes for business email.

One of the most noticeable and unprofessional examples of bad manners, is to use the expressions “no problem”. It’s “you’re welcome”, “please” and “thank you” that are necessities. When you are running a business, service is expected as it is your job. Be careful of your language. Leave out the overdone slang and of course, leave the swearing elsewhere. Your customers are paying attention and expect you to act like a business professional.

Another example of unprofessional behaviour is to accept cellphone calls or texts while in conversation or meetings with others. Turn the phone off unless the call is so important that you can’t risk missing it, in which case it’s best dealt with before important meetings.

When dealing with international customers and those of different cultures, make sure you are aware of their customs. It is easy to insult a customer when their business behaviour is much different than that of the country you live in. Be aware and be considerate.

Be honest and don’t cheat. This involves all members of the business community, social media and your customers. People like to deal with businesses that are direct and honest in their dealings. Any dishonesty in your company will quickly be picked up on and you will lose customers.

Lastly, treat others as you would like to be treated. Customers want to deal with you as a person and not just a business entity. Building a rapport with them and learning about them while following proper business etiquette can mean a lot for your business.

© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014

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