Good Customer Service Etiquette and Saying "It" with Finesse

by Jeannie Walters

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If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, right?

That’s the lesson we learned as kids. And yet as grown-ups, we sometimes have to say things that aren’t easy to say. We have to understand how to be direct about things that otherwise aren’t discussed in polite society.

When communicating with customers, it can be even trickier. Sometimes practicing good customer service etiquette leaves us at a loss for words when finding ways to tell customers certain things they really should know. With a little thought and attention, the mundane or even difficult can become memorable in a delightful way.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

This little framed message greeted me in the ladies room, just above the toilet, in a lovely restaurant in Seattle. I imagine this message became a necessity when too many people didn’t know this little quirk. This simple tip, provided in a frame, isn’t accusatory or thoughtless, but a helpful reminder for the guest! It’s not the type of dialogue a nice restauranteur cares to have with his or her guests, and while this isn’t polite dinner conversation, the extra care of the reminder impressed me.

Customer Service Etiquette

Finding a restroom in a long, dark hallway of a restaurant in Chicago, I came across these two doors with stenciled messages. They provided direction with a sense of whimsy, and I found them a lot more entertaining than the typical “DO NOT ENTER” signs. How clever to know what the guest is seeking and help them find their way!

Customer Service Etiquette

Instead of commanding “DON’T REFRESH YOUR BROWSER” or yelling in all caps “WE’RE PROCESSING YOUR ORDER,” Groupon caught my attention yet again with a simple but memorable way to ask me to wait.

Customer Service Etiquette

If you truly know your customers, and truly understand what you’re saying, you can turn it into something special. It can be a memorable way to connect with customers, even when what you’re saying isn’t easy. These small moments, what we call micromoments, can make or break your customer’s experience. Have you thought about how you handle yours?

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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