Old School Etiquette
October 29, 2020 • 5 minute read

5 Ways Old School Etiquette Applies to Modern Customer Care

When it comes to etiquette, the first thing that usually comes to mind is which fork should I use? However, etiquette extends far beyond the dinner table into everyday social and business settings, formal occasions like ceremonies, and yes, even to customer experience.

The word etiquette is synonymous with Emily Post, who is famous for her writings on the topic. According to the Emily Post Institute, etiquette is made up of two parts. First, there are manners like saying “please” and “thank you” or holding doors and shaking hands. These are defined as important because “they give us confidence, allow our focus to be on the substance of the interaction, and tell us what to do and what to expect others to do in return.” The second are “the principles of etiquette” or consideration, respect, and honesty. According to the institute, these principles are the three qualities that stand behind all the manners we have. These are not only timeless, but also cross cultural boundaries.

A good customer experience should be built on this same premise–a combination of good manners as well as actions that come from consideration, respect, and honesty. When interacting with customers, brands should apply the same simple practices of etiquette and courtesy as with any other type of business or social engagement. If these basic principles are at the core of your customer interactions, it sets the tone for a good experience. However, etiquette might often be overlooked when brands are choosing a customer care technology. A solution that cannot support etiquette basics can have a dramatic effect on your customer experience. Therefore, as you visualize your modern customer experience and choose the technology to support it, remember that having good etiquette never goes out of style.

Let’s look at five examples of simple old school etiquette to keep in mind as you do so:

Be punctual.

Being punctual shows that you respect others’ time. In a day and age where everyone is busy and time is a precious commodity, this can go a long way. Given that, a long wait time in a virtual queue is one of the biggest pain points in customer care. You can alleviate long wait times through automating simple everyday tasks and allowing your customers to self-service. This shows you respect your customers’ time by allowing them to get things done without a wait, and reduces the number of customers in your queue so your agents are free to get to those customers who need help with issues that require special attention. 

Remember people’s names. 

When you know someone’s name it makes them feel important, connected to you, and valued in the situation. The same holds true in customer care and is key in developing relationships with your customers. Personalization makes customers feel appreciated and that their business matters to you. Remembering things like customers’ previous purchases, the reason they contacted you last, as well as their preferences can go a long way, versus if you start from scratch as if they had never interacted with you before. Conversational AI applications such as virtual assistants, can seamlessly integrate into backend systems and pull existing data to make every interaction a personalized experience. There is no need to ask customers for information that they have already provided. A personalized experience can leave your customers feeling valued and keep them coming back. 

Listening is very important.

When you listen to someone, you are showing them consideration and respect. This is extremely important to customer experience. A major pain point for customers is having to repeat themselves multiple times to multiple people in order to resolve an issue. In addition, many automated systems used in customer care today require that customers speak in a certain way and use specific words or phrases. This often frustrates customers and may feel them leaving like they aren’t being heard. Advanced Conversational AI applications like virtual assistants enable people to speak or type in their own words in a more natural way of communicating. The end result is that people are not only heard, but also understood.

Be helpful.

Being helpful shows that you have empathy and compassion for people. Showing empathy towards your customers is always important, especially when there is an emotional situation such as a personal or property loss. Many automated customer care systems have limited abilities and cumbersome processes– like  menu tress and chatbot loops– and often cause more frustration. If you are focused on delivering exceptional customer experience, deploying a Conversational AI application like a virtual assistant is a good choice. A virtual assistant is always ready to help, always has a good attitude, and always acts with empathy ensuring a consistent positive experience, every time.

Don’t interrupt.

It is only polite to let people finish their thoughts before you begin speaking. Interrupting someone is not only disruptive, but is also disrespectful. Many times automated systems cut people off before they have finished talking or before they have fully explained their intent. Some may disconnect or hang up altogether, leaving your customer to start the entire process over again. 

So when considering a modern customer experience–especially if it includes implementing a technology choice–remember to keep the tried and true principles of basic etiquette in mind. And in the words of Emily Post:

“To make a pleasant and friendly impression is not only good manners, but equally good business.”

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