Articles Tagged with courtesy

Does fair play cost too much for business?

Earlier this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury was quoted by the Telegraph saying that “economic growth is not enough to make Britain a ‘healthy society'” and that creating a more caring society is just as important.

Certainly, a strong economy is important to funding our homes, food and energy as well as the public services we all need  and the care that many people need. But the way in which we generate wealth is also important.

Care for employees and customers is equally as important as caring about shareholders.

We started pleaseandthanks.co.uk back in 2004 because we noticed a lack of courtesy in business. We don’t just mean not saying ‘please and thanks’ but people being utterly miserable because of an oppressive work environment. We saw that much of this could be improved simply by changing behaviour. Courtesy and caring costs nothing but can achieve a great deal. From a purely economic point of view, we recall the late Albert Humphrey’s research which showed that an atmosphere of ‘fair play’ increased the amount of energy employees put into their work.

Material conditions such as fair wages and employment facilities and conditions are important, but so is the way businesses treat their people and their customers.

As we emerge from the recession, it is time to consider how we want to behave as we see the prospect of pressure easing. While it is reasonable to expect those who can to work hard, it is also reasonable expect them to be treated fairly.

From the prices customers pay for products and services to the treatment of staff, there is massive opportunity for businesses to practise fair play. And we don’t believe it need be a cost but could offer considerable opportunity.

• Written by Robert Zarywacz | UK writer, PR and journalist | founder of pressme.co.uk | partner in Zarywacz | chairman of COMBEbusiness | courtesy consultant at pleaseandthanks.co.uk and the National Campaign for Courtesy | Find me on Google+

Courtesy works both ways at work and in business

It’s a common sight in doctors’ surgeries, banks and similar places to see signs saying that offensive language and aggression towards employees will not be tolerated and that anyone doing so will be required to leave.

Recently, I’ve also heard individuals complain about the way they have been treated by both public services and private companies.

Customers and employers need to be treated courteously: it works both ways.

How do we achieve this?

Sometimes employees who meet the public every day do become cynical. They can feel they are not being treated with courtesy or frustrated at having to answer the same questions again and again. But in many cases the customer is there because they need help. Just because other people have been annoying or discourteous must not make us judge everyone on first sight. Whatever job we’re doing, whatever level we’re at, it costs nothing to be courteous to customers.

In the same way, as customers we must not assume that any employee is going to be unhelpful. Even if we’ve had a bad experience with an organisation, we must treat the person we come to see courteously.

Everyone deserves to be greeted politely and to be  treated with courtesy. If we start in this way, very often our dealings will proceed smoothly.

But what if they don’t? What if an employee is surly and unhelpful? What if a customer is aggressive and even violent? Then it is right for an individual or organisation to take appropriate action, whether to complain or require a person causing offence to leave.

Institutional or habitual discourtesy causes headaches not only for businesses and organisations, but for employees and individuals too. On the other hand, courtesy embedded in our everyday lives encourages things to go more smoothly and is beneficial to both sides.

What’s more, courtesy is free and available to us all at any time.

My word is my bond

Recent media attention on certain practices at some banks could lead us to think that no one in business shows any respect to others. However, we ought to remember that there are millions of businesses in the UK, of all types and sizes, and that many people in business do respect and show courtesy to others, even if it’s not worthy of media attention.

For example, several years ago I referred some business to an associate, who very kindly paid me a percentage for the referral. This weekend a letter popped through my door with another cheque in respect of repeat work from this referral. I had no idea and it was a pleasant surprise. What a gentleman!

Then there are business people who give their time generously as free mentors, pass on their tips and advice when you ask them a question about their specific field or offer you support during rough times. It is good to remember these when we are confronted with case after case of rogue traders and other dodgy dealers, all of whom makes entertaining television or reading but at the expense of their poor victims.

It is right to expect every business to abide by the law and for those that break it to be brought to justice. It is also right to recognise those who go beyond legal or other obligations to provide more than a purely commercial service and contribute more fully to communities.

“My word is my bond” still holds true for some people. Perhaps the media should highlight those businesses that serve as role models for all of us.

 

Ann Widdecombe presents award to Ilfracombe as UK’s first courteous town in new business initiative

Ilfracombe in North Devon is the first town in the UK to complete a new programme run by the National Campaign for Courtesy to recognise businesses for their courtesy. The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe presented the Mayor of Ilfracombe with a certificate marking this achievement after more than 100 businesses took part.

(from left) Lynda Courtnadge, Mayor of Ilfracombe, is presented with the courteous town certificate by the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, watched by Robert Zarywacz of the National Campaign for Courtesy
(from left) Lynda Courtnadge, Mayor of Ilfracombe, is presented with the courteous town certificate by the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, watched by Robert Zarywacz of the National Campaign for Courtesy

The 15-week pilot initiative – supported online at pleaseandthanks.co.uk – recognised courteous businesses in the town after validation by customer testimonials and unsolicited nominations from members of the public. Shops, restaurants, cafés, pubs and hotels participated in the programme along with garages, accountants, builders and other sectors. A weekly theme focused on different aspects of courtesy and online materials supported participating businesses.

Following the success of this pilot, the National Campaign for Courtesy is receiving interest from other towns keen to run the initiative in their own areas.

Robert Zarywacz, who is courtesy consultant for the campaign and whose previous experience includes monitoring worldwide customer service at British Airways, says: “The courteous town initiative ensures we recognise what is good in business at a time when there is a tendency to focus on the negative. It provides a process for assessing courtesy, based on independent verification, which can be replicated in towns across the country to create a recognisable standard.

“Millions of people in the UK spend many hours each week at work or in business and a polite environment not only makes working life more enjoyable but plays a key role in increasing motivation and productivity. As well as making everyone feel better in their work, it can have important economic benefits, especially relevant when every business is looking to improve performance.”

Ann Widdecombe congratulated Ilfracombe on such a worthwhile initiative and said she was delighted to present the certificate at Ilfracombe Library on 8 June 2012.

Lynda Courtnadge, Mayor of Ilfracombe, said: “It was a great pleasure to receive the Courteous Town award, presented by the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe, on behalf of Ilfracombe.

“Since moving to Ilfracombe 12 years ago, I have always appreciated the warmth and friendliness of local people, and so it was lovely to learn that we are the first town in the country to be awarded the Courteous Town Award, a national initiative promoted by the National Campaign for Courtesy.”

Robert Zarywacz continued: “The response in Ilfracombe has been phenomenal. When presenting certificates and window stickers to individual businesses, many have been overwhelmed that people have taken the time to nominate and thank them.

“It’s a powerful reminder that it takes only a moment and costs nothing to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, but it means so much when we do.

“The National Campaign for Courtesy would like to thank Ann Widdecombe, the Mayor and the businesses and members of the community who have participated in the courteous town initiative and who make Ilfracombe such a courteous place in which to live and work.”

See full details of the Ilfracombe courteous town initiative.

For details of the National Campaign for Courtesy, please visit campaignforcourtesy.org.uk

Towns line up to follow Ilfracombe and recognise courtesy

Today we’ve been presenting more certificates and window stickers to courteous businesses in Ilfracombe. We’re catching up and soon all will have been presented.

What next? In the next week or so we will have some really big news, so do look in.

In May, a presentation on the Ilfracombe courteous town initiative was given at the annual general meeting of the National Campaign for Courtesy. There is considerable excitement with several towns waiting to follow in Ilfracombe’s footsteps.

More soon . . .