Manners? Do they matter in business?

Do you use manners?

Basic “Ps & Qs”

When I go into a shop and ask anyone anything, I say “Please” somewhere in that sentence. When paying and taking my goods I say “Thank you” when given change or my card back. I can’t not do it. It’s just automatic.
And as for my lovely friend who edits for ever and a day on my stuff and won’t accept anything more than a “Please” or “Thank you”, I feel very guilty!

So, how is it possible for people not to use these manners? I expect a shop assistant to say “Please” when they say the amount I owe and “Thank you” when I hand over the money or card.

I recently read an interesting discussion in a network group. It really took off. Someone asked if people should say “Thank you” to someone who has taken the time to tag someone to help them answer their question in the group. Or say “Thank you” when someone takes the time to help them.

Mostly people said “Yes, of course”. Others said “Don’t look for it”, whilst that was answered with “People don’t look for it, they note it by its absence”.

man and sales assistant talking over golf clubs

Someone was accused of not saying “Thank you” in another post and he said he took ownership of it, meaning perhaps that he admitted it. But he then didn’t go back to thank anyone. I wonder why that was? Taking ownership of being rude but not apologising for it? Arrogance?  Was it admittance of being rude? Or something we should just ignore?

Now, this was a business forum used by people from different sectors. A place for exchanging support, help and advice and do business together. I find it stunning that anyone could be rude to potential customers because not saying “thank you” IS rude.

I personally really don’t like working with people who can’t use basic manners. I think good manners are crucial to any relationship.

It doesn’t cost anything, doesn’t hurt and you can’t offend anyone by using good manners but you can offend people by not using them. After all, if you can’t get these basics right, how will you be able to get the finer details of good business etiquette right? How can you really be listening to your customers and showing respect if you can’t even thank them for being there in the first place? Will you interrupt them?

Should you test potential new staff for manners at the recruitment stage? I would argue “yes”. Does the candidate say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you” when offered a glass of water? Whether someone has manners is usually demonstrated through their habits, rather than by the answer to a question. Don’t dismiss them out of hand though, it might only need a training exercise, just as important as training them in your computer systems or policies.

Manners are equally important at the top of the company tree as they are at the bottom. It should be part of any company’s culture. A company that ensure its employees treat each other with respect will usually treat its customers with respect, which will bring rewards.

How important do you think good manners are in business?

How to increase a bank’s offer of redress

Change of name with the bank

Halifax Halifax Halifax. I have a choice of 3 complaints to do here. Actually 4 if you count the one I did for a friend and got her £500. Now which one today? Toss of a coin (yes 3 times don’t try and get clever with me you know it aint gonna work). Let’s take the most recent one.

I changed my name. Yes ha ha ha ha haha to all those companies to whom I haven’t yet complained who think they have my name. You don’t and you don’t know to what I changed it ner ner ner ner ner! (Slightly unnecessarily childish particularly given that I have just tweeted “How childish can politicians get? Seriously. “I win I got my Royal Charter” “I win I got my Law” Grow up & do what’s best 4 ppl!” But hey ho moving on).

So, got the  Deed certificate, paid for legal copies as some financial institutions needed them and others were happy with copies. Sent off details to Halifax and asked a simple question about fees on their card. You’d think that would be quite simple wouldn’t you, well obviously not or I wouldn’t be writing about it would I?!

The Halifax correspondence

From Halifax

I got a letter back addressed using my former name, not enclosing my document and not answering the question, but enclosing a new direct debit form! Fail on 3 counts! Rude huh?  So I complained. Obviously.

I got a letter back offering me £30. Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again if you don’t think that the amount reflects the inconvenience or time spent on the matter, particularly when they don’t apologise or explain the issues…. complain again. So I did. I was particularly pedantic actually.

From me

I pointed out the following to Ms R:

keyboard Bank made a mistake? Not happy with offer, how to get it increasedShe said Halifax disposed of the document because it was a copy. (Oh yes Dear Reader did I not mention that earlier? Halifax destroyed the legal copy that I PAID for!) It was not a photocopy. It was a “Certified legal copy of a Deed of Change of Name (Deed Poll)”. I expected to be reimbursed!

She requested that I send my deed poll to the same address as before. Given that this was the address at which I had my property destroyed I refused to do that again and enclosed another legal copy to her and trusted that she would at least not destroy it and return it!

I received no explanation why, when my property was destroyed, no-one wrote to me to ask for (actually another) the deed poll. Had I not complained I could have continued to wait for both my deed poll to be returned and to receive my new credit card!

She completely ignored by question about the Card and I asked for a third time and failed to explain or apologise for why I only received a direct debit form and covering letter which ignored the two out of three points of my letter. I found this extremely rude and unacceptable.

Now here’s the particularly pedantic part. I wrote “I quote from your letter “I can see that we’ve let you down with some of the points you’ve raised. However I hope I’ve explained that there are some instances where I believe our actions were necessary.” This would indicate that you believe, as you have written in the plural, that at least two of your actions were necessary and acceptable. Please explain which these actions are. Destroying property which does not belong to Halifax and I had to pay for, not writing to me regarding this, ignoring my query about the credit card and writing to me in my former name are my list of complaints (to which I have added today). I do not believe that any of these actions (or non action!) were necessary, some were just downright rude. Please do explain which two you deem as necessary as I am very interested and it is these that I shall highlight to the Financial Ombudsman in particular”.

I also expected more than the £30 offered.

Haifax redress

I got a response. In short, £12 reimbursement for the deed poll and £100 for the inconvenience.

So that was that. Nah, I’m pedantic remember. So although satisfied with the amount, I did need to write again and point out that I had requested the money be sent in a cheque and not put on the card which she didn’t do! So, as I had to write again I hoped that the following points would help her in the future.

1)       The first page of her letter was a photocopy and not the original on letterheaded notepaper.
2)       Fifth bullet point, incorrect use of an apostrophe in the word “fees”
3)       “are charges” not “is charges” would be grammatically correct (as in my letter which you could have copied)
4)       “You have been advised there is…” No, I advised you on this point and the instances are plural and therefore “are” not “is” is appropriate.
5)       No new paragraph on what should have been the first new paragraph on the second page.
6)       “…should be made clear to your at the time” should have been “you” not “your”
7)       “Halifax so not apply any loading..” doesn’t make any sense, I assume that you mean “do”
8)       “…and enclosed your Deed…” “enclose” not “enclosed”

Just a little bit....;)
Just a little bit….?

There were a few other things, (not least that she didn’t answer the point about which issue I complained about was necessary) but I won’t bore you now seeing you got this far! Well honestly, I do expect a letter from a bank to be written and checked! Yes, I could have saved my time but frankly, the poor quality letter writing annoyed me and anyway I was being helpful! Perhaps it helped in her future work. I freely give tips for companies  on how to avoid complaints!

So, share your experiences of the banking world. Which one is good which one is bad? I have found HSBC pretty good but last time I wrote to them customer service standards were going down and I had to write to the CEO. What do you think of your bank/building society/credit card companies?

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