Today, most people pay little attention to social or business etiquette. While some elements of traditional etiquette may seem dates and pre-“high tech”, they are worth reviewing – and incorporating into your daily business life.
With the exception of “cold calls”, all calls received should be returned within no more than twenty-four hours. This applies to “internal” and “external” calls. Of course, calls to customers – current and potential – should be returned first.
When visiting someone’s office, whether a customer, boss or “internal” customer, take no more time than is absolutely necessary. Treat other’s time as if it were your own.
When you bid on a job, follow-up directly with the potential client or customer. When you are in receipt of a bid, follow-up with the vendor or consultant whether they win it or not. If the bid is delayed, communicate this fact to the vendor or consultant.
When you post a job opening and you interview someone by telephone (screening) or face-to-face, follow-up the interview with either a call or e-mail. When you have selected a candidate, let those you interviewed who did not get the job know that you selected someone else.
Schedule no more meetings than absolutely necessary. Make your meetings brief and to the point with an agenda and a time limit.
Schedule conference calls when they are most convenient for all participants. If you have participants globally, schedule them at different times to share the inconvenience among all participants. Send out an agenda and time limit in advance. Make sure all participants are on time and remain for the entire call.
The customer is first in all things. Ahead of the boss. Ahead of subordinates. Ahead of suppliers. Even ahead of your family and personal life. They pay the bills. Do not ever inconvenience a customer.
E-mail is both a blessing and a curse. Those who worked prior to e-mail remember regular mail drops and office couriers. Respond to all customer e-mails within no more than twenty-four hours. Respond to all other e-mail sent directly to you (excluding “spam” and mass group e-mailings) within forty-eight hours. Only address emails to those who absolutely need the information (response, request or whatever) within them.
Respect the time of others. If you are going to be late, call them to let them know. If you must leave a meeting early, let the “owner” of the meeting know in advance. And if an appointment or meeting must be cancelled, let the participants know as far in advance as possible so they can rearrange their schedules.
Business etiquette may seem basic but increasingly, business people think of themselves and not others. Not their clients or customers. Not their employees. And not their vendors or suppliers. Business etiquette is often rewarded by others behaving in a similar manner. Take the first step by making an example through your actions and those of your team.