Etiquette Tips

First-Class Service

By Deborah King

What are you selling, and who are your customers?

Whether or not you work for a company or some other kind of organization, you are selling yourself every day to those you meet. From the moment you get up in the morning to when you go back to bed at night, you are continually announcing who you are and what type of service or services you offer. You serve others on the job, in friendships, at church, and at home. Would those people describe you as first-class—or as second-hand?

Are you someone that others can trust? Can others count on you to do what you said you would do? Here are some other important questions to consider regarding qualities of first-class service:

  • Are you on time for appointments?
  • Is your clothing and grooming neat and appropriate?
  • Do you maintain a positive attitude?
  • Do you greet others and make them feel comfortable during conversations?
  • Are you a good listener?
  • Are your words kind and uplifting?
  • Are others better because they interacted with you?


Civility and Integrity

The foundation of first-class service is civility and integrity. Civility is defined as the act of showing regard for others. It is demonstrated through respect, restraint, and responsibility. These values must be held by the CEO, those behind the scenes, the frontline personnel, and by the customer as well.

Two years ago I asked Dr. Audhesh Paswan, Ph.D., Department of Marketing and Logistics College of Business at the University of North Texas, to assist me with a survey on how people view the importance of civility, etiquette, and manners. The outcome was titled “Attitudes Toward Public Behavior.” The research showed that when a customer is treated poorly, he or she will most likely do business elsewhere. The second most-likely response was to be assertive and demand corrective actions, and the last—to be apathetic. Those who were likely to be assertive valued civility, etiquette, and manners the most. Those who deliver first-class service expressed their want to know when someone has experienced poor service so that they have the opportunity to correct the issue. If a customer simply leaves and does not let you know why, you lose that opportunity.

As a community, it makes good business sense to provide civility and etiquette training. Kind, courteous, respectful, and tolerant behavior should be commonplace in our homes, schools, churches, and businesses. As you acknowledge others with a smile, eye contact and a greeting, you let them know they matter. The person who continues talking on the phone, working on his or her computer, or thinking someone else will welcome the newcomer sends a negative message. In addition, choosing restraint in your words and behavior demonstrates integrity and builds trust with others. It is true: we are all customers, and we all are providing a service—so let’s make it first-class!

Civility Challenge

Think and speak well of others. Our thoughts become our words, and our words become our actions. This month look for opportunities to say kind things about others.

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