“Good, old fashioned politeness and the 21st Century.”

There’s a host of advice around about how to grow your business or how to make your marketing more affective. Although some of the recommendations may not cost you very much, almost all of them will cost you something.

Well, here’s the exception to that rule.

‘Politeness costs you nothing and gains you everything.’

OK, perhaps that appeals to me because I really don’t like a lack of manners or poor service.

I don’t like a door being left to close in my face.

When I’m talking to someone I don’t want him or her checking their mobile phone or worse, taking a call.

Is, ‘Good morning. How can I help you?’ too much to ask for?

It seems that the 21st century, with it’s web and it’s Wi-Fi and a burning need to do business has brushed politeness to one side.

Well, I’m as keen to do business as the next man, but I think that if we loose the habit of being polite we are in danger of missing a trick.

We are in a ‘people’ business.

All business is about people; your staff, your suppliers and your customers. They all deserve respect and they all deserve to be treated as you would like to be treated yourself.

Technology seems to have speeded up the pace at which the world moves but I’m sure that I can remember someone telling me as I grew up, ‘It takes no time to be polite.’

So where do we start? Managing staff and dealing with suppliers is all too often done by email. And email is great. It’s quick, easy and cheap. The downside is that it can also be curt and abrupt in a way that no amount of smiley faces and ‘xxx’s can overcome. Those relationships will benefit no end from occasionally picking up the phone or even a bit of actual ‘face time’.

Have you heard of Mrs ‘Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By.’

Appropriately enough, she was a character in a book called ‘The Water Babies.’ She earns a mention here because she was keen on seeing things from the other person’s point of view.

Seeing the world from your customer’s point of view is about the most important rule of marketing and, in a way, it’s a form of politeness. It’s putting the other person first; thinking about their needs rather than your own.

The best way to sell that pool, sauna or spa is by knowing how that particular customer is going to benefit from it. The best salesman becomes the customer’s friend and solves their problems for them.

I think that patience is a form of politeness too and being patient is very important in business today. Although the world is moving faster, people still like to take their time over important decisions. The experts suggest that a customer might want to interact or engage with your business seven or more times before making a purchase. These ‘touchpoints’ – a phone call, an email enquiry, a couple of visits to your showroom – might seem like that person is wasting your time but be patient, they are just getting to know you and making up their mind.

A promise is a promise.

Lots of aspects of business are about promises.

A promise that a spa or sauna will perform in a certain way, that a pump or chemical dosing system will do it’s job; that an installation will be finished on a certain date.

People who are polite keep their promises; although of course, it’s not always possible.

When a customer complains, it’s often because they feel that a promise has been made and it hasn’t been kept. In those situations, I think we are too used to companies trying to dodge the blame and wriggle out from underneath.

If you’d been promised something and then let down, what would you want?

Perhaps you would like an apology and then for the problem to be solved?

If you act that way when a customer complains they will often be so pleased that they will spread the word about your customer service and remain a loyal customer.

Some people appreciate politeness more than others.

I hope that you won’t think me rude if I point out that the ‘grey pound’ is big business.

Throughout our industry, be it for a sauna, pool or spa, the older generation is generating a disproportionate amount of the income. People in their 60’s and 70’s have higher levels of disposable income and they are more interested in spending it on hydrotherapy, health and relaxation.

Of all the sectors in our society, the older generation probably values politeness and manners more than any other. They are looking for good, old fashioned, customer service and they expect to get it.

I think they have a point. ‘Show your elders some respect’, was something that I heard often enough as a child, and I don’t see what has changed in the world to make that no longer true.

What is the world coming to?

I’m no angel but it strikes me that as a nation we are getting ruder and more impatient while expecting everyone to do everything we want exactly when we want it done.

Although the worst of our economic woes appear to behind us now, it does feel that some companies let their levels of service slip at a time when they should have been piling on the charm to maintain business.

In my own company we strive to offer high levels of service. From the moment of first contact our sales people introduce themselves and develop a personal relationship with customers to the point of delivery where our drivers always go the extra mile to make sure the customer is happy. We regularly get people taking time out of their busy day to write and thank us too.

So I know that being polite works. I know that it adds to the bottom line as well as being the right thing to do.

Please remember, life’s too short not to be kind and courteous and being so makes it all the more pleasurable.

Thank you.