Articles Tagged with rude

Is courtesy from customers important?

We often hear stories about rude shop assistants and poor service, but how polite are customers? And does it matter?

If a shop assistant is rude to customers, there’s a number of problems that could be the cause. If that’s how they normally act, there must be a management problem or they would have resolved the situation.

But what if customers are rude? Should sales assistants and other customer service staff have to put up with it?

Customers can become impatient and dissatisfied if they have to wait a long time in a queue, if service is slow or a shop doesn’t have required items in stock, but these are no reasons to abuse staff. If there is a problem, it isn’t necessarily the fault of the sales assistant, so why should they get the blame?

From a sales assistant’s point of view, they have to deal with possibly hundreds of people every day. Their job could be repetitive or tedious, but that doesn’t prevent them trying to give good service.

Customers saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, making eye contact and being helpful can make shop assistants’ working life more enjoyable. This behaviour also acknowledges the value of the person’s role: we want to buy something from the shop and they make the transaction possible.

In shops with busy check-outs it’s not always possible to have a conversation, but in some shops it is possible and it tends to make shopping a more enjoyable experience for us.

If we are really annoyed in a shop, being rude achieves nothing. If we think if makes us more important or gives us more authority, we’re wrong. If we’re rude to staff in a big shop, they have very little opportunity to act outside the shop’s processes, so they probably become more frustrated and upset than we do. If we have a gripe, it’s best to take it up, firmly but politely, with the management. If we don’t get a fair resolution, we can exercise the ultimate sanction: take our custom to a competitor.

It costs nothing but a few seconds to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it’s just as important whether we are the customer or the supplier.

Courtesy not the soft option when under pressure

When businesses are under pressure, when people are under pressure, when money is tight, when deadlines are tight, courtesy is not a soft option.

Under pressure, it’s much easier to boss our way about, ignore everyone else and focus only on what we have to do. Of course, then we forget that every other individual could be doing the same: bossing their way about, ignoring everyone else and focusing only on what they have to do. The result is an organisation that doesn’t work together, that doesn’t co-operate, that operates in an atmosphere of friction. Productivity, co-operation, business processes, customer service all suffer: as do the business and the individuals.

Who in their right minds could think that courtesy could improve matters? Stopping to say hello to every employee and ask how they are would slow things down, especially if a company is short-staffed and customers are waiting. Wouldn’t courtesy be a drag?

Not when common sense is applied. Yes, people need to work fast when there is a deadline, although when shown respect, people often pull together naturally to help out. Being rude and ignoring people destroys team spirit. If people can’t see we’re busy, we can tell them: “Sorry, I’ve got a deadline to meet. Can we talk about this later?” Most people will understand. On those occasions when someone comes to us with a problem that is as important as the matter we’re currently handling, then effective management is required to prioritise actions.

Whatever happens, however busy we are, we can still be courteous, albeit briefly. When deadlines have been met, customers satisfied and things slow down, we can give people our full attention.

Courtesy is easier to practise when life is going smoothly; it’s a far more difficult challenge and far more important when life is fraught. Then being courteous strengthens team spirit, encourages co-operation and equips an organisation to succeed however tough the going, but it’s not the easy course.