Good manners are vital to winning customers and keeping their loyalty. No matter how good your product is, rude or indifferent service hurts your company.

"A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar."

-- Benjamin Franklin

One survey found that 58 percent of customers will take their business elsewhere because of bad manners -- even if they must go out of their way or pay more. Even worse, 80 percent of those surveyed feel that rudeness is increasing in the business world.

If you make even basic etiquette lessons a part of job training, the results will speak volumes about your staff and your company. Customers will respond positively when they hear someone answer the phone politely, respond calmly to their frustration and know which fork to use during a business lunch.

Here's how to institute some etiquette lessons at your company:

Be discreet. When you approach your staff with the idea, tell them you are trying to help them brush up on their skills. As long as you don't give them the impression you think they're a bunch of ill-mannered oafs, most staff members will welcome the opportunity. 

Hire pros. 
Professional trainers or etiquette consultants can cover the basics at a brown bag lunch. For more complicated needs, they can hold sessions lasting from a few hours to a full-day or longer. If bringing in experts sounds like a budget buster, send your human resources manager for training and let him or her teach the rest of the staff. 

Reinforce the lessons. 
Even model employees can have a lapse of memory about table manners, how you want the phone answered or how to introduce people when a name is forgotten. Prepare a short handbook or set up a page on your Intranet that covers the basics. 

By making sure your staff has the right skills, you'll encounter fewer misunderstandings and happier customers, all adding up to increased profits.  

© Bizactions LLC.