[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=new+years+++ball+2010&iid=7442881″ src=”8/a/6/2/Ball_Drop_In_dc39.jpg?adImageId=8778463&imageId=7442881″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]A hallmark is a distinctive characteristic or attribute. Kind of like a stamp used on gold and silver coins to mark them for purity and excellence. If you get a gold coin with this hallmark, then you know it’s pure.
Courtesy, in a simple definition, is a polite gesture. You say “thanks” when someone picks up the coin you dropped on the floor at the cash register or you say “no, you go first” when approaching a door and the person next to you has their hands loaded with packages. Simple courtesy.
Since we just finished the major shopping season of the year for 2009 and most of us braved the stores amid madding crowds I wonder if you can recall moments of simple courtesy? How many business people extended courtesy when the crowds were at their crush-iest and most demanding? And, did you return courtesy for courtesy? One example I participated in was to allow a pedestrian to cross the lane in a busy shopping center…I could have just plowed ahead pretending not to see this woman standing there hoping for a break in traffic. But I reasoned that if it were me, I sure would appreciate having a car stop so I could cross…so I stopped. She not only acknowledged my effort at courtesy, she returned it by saying loudly, “thank you so much.”
Last year, 2009, wasn’t a fun year in business. Not a jolly year for the economy. Too many people suffered job loss and paycheck shrinkage. 2010 may not be much better. What could be better, however, is our combined efforts at being kind one to another.
- sales staff people could acknowledge shoppers with a smile and a “how is your day?”
- counter staff people could say “thank you for your business” and “is there any other way I can be of service today?”
- on-site managers could both be kind to the employees and the customers – give the employees much needed positive reinforcement such as “you did a great job on that report,” or “I appreciate how you handled that situation with that customer,” or even “is there anything I can do to make your job easier?” [in some cases this could be a better chair or new keyboard or some added training]; the on-site manager could come out of his or her office and help customers…in a retail setting, the manager does not get sales compensation and shouldn’t take anything away from the commission-earning sales staff, but maybe the manager could help to tidy up the sales counter or do a little stocking of shelves to help
- business leaders could literally lead in this effort by making courtesy a hallmark of doing business this year: acknowledge that raises may not come this year and no one might get a bonus, but that doesn’t mean that positive reinforcement needs to dry up. Business leaders could do everything within their current budget creatively to make their businesses a positive place to work for the employees and a positive place for customers and clients to do business
- solo-preneurs [single person businesses and home-based business owners] can also adopt the hallmark of courtesy in their relations with clients, customers, suppliers and competitors
What about the consumer? I’m not leaving them out either. We’re all consumers, every one of us. We all shop at the grocery store and gas station. We all purchase food for our pets and visit our health care providers. In every instance we can say “thank you for taking your time,” and “I appreciate your finding this,” and “yes, please” and even “no, thank you.”
Simple courtesy practiced and perfected by all of us on both sides of the business plate just might make this New Year a bit more pleasant for all.