"Civility costs nothing, and buys
--Mary Wortley Montagu
I love the above quotation, because it is a
reminder that even in tough economic times
there is one thing you can do as a business
to ensure that you do not lose customers.
Civility seems like an old-fashioned word,
but companies that adopt a policy of civility
find that their customers return to them,
even if their needs cannot always be met.
Showing civility is making sure that you are
courteous and polite. The act of civility,
at its simplest, means that you show regard
for other people's feelings.
That's our policy
What do you do when you have to deliver bad
news to a customer? Do you fall back on the
"I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do for
you. That's the policy" response?
There are times when you have no choice but
to deliver news that the customer doesn't
want to hear. It may be because of something
you have done or it may be regulations that
you have no control over. Adopting a policy
of civility is a good idea no matter what the
situation, but it can be especially helpful
during difficult situations.
Show regard for the customer
Civility means that you think about what this
situation means to the customer. What
position does it put the customer in? Are
you able to offer any assistance? Is there
something else you can do that will reduce
the inconvenience that the customer will
If you find that you have to fall back on
"It's our policy" frequently, reconsider the
policy or how you advertise the policy.
Publicize up front the conditions that create
the most customer complaints. Make sure that
your customers are reminded of the return
policy, or be up front about your credit
terms. Think about how you would feel if
you were in that situation. How can you
improve service even if you can't change the
You don't have to change the rules
Changing the rules to accommodate all
situations can be costly, but civility and
honest communication with your customers will
save you time and money, and in most cases,
save you customers as well.