Your Employees’ Lack of Manners is Costing You Money

Customer service is not just about how you “appear” on line.  Good customer service is not just talked about.  It is lived.  It is how your employees represent your brand day-in,  day-out, online and in person.  Can you say confidently that your employees understand that having good manners directly impacts customer service?  What is the cost of poor manners in today’s retail environment?  Let’s take a look!

Wicker Emporium, an example of GREAT customer service!

Wicker Emporium, an example of GREAT customer service!

Think about the last couple of times you entered a retail environment.  Think about how you were greeted, or not.  Think about whether or not the staff made eye contact, or not.  Did they say hello, excuse me, or even continue talking amongst themselves, ignoring you.  How did you feel?  Better yet, how likely are you to return to such an environment.  The answer to the last question depends on how you answered the previous ones.  Well, everyday your customers are asking the same thing about your establishment and depending on the answer, your staff’s lack of manners could be costing you money.

I don’t like rudeness.  Never have.  To me rudeness is an excellent indicator of the type work one can expect from such a person.  If someone is that self-absorbed to not think about others, it is a bad sign.  Some may argue this, but it is how I feel.  Regardless research shows that rude employees are costing your company money.   Customers leave companies where rude behaviour is the norm.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the HBR blog post:  The High Cost of Rudeness at Work.

To make my point, let’s look at two very recent experiences that I had at local stores.

Winners also known as @Winners online:

Winners has been a place that I love to browse.  I confess that I go there at least once a week.  And, many times I don’t leave empty handed.

I was not however, particularly impressed with my visit Friday of last week.  I can get past the fact that not one employee made eye contact with me while I was shopping. No big deal.

What I find unacceptable is really bad manners.  I was standing in an aisle looking at some items on a shelf.  I was about 2 feet away from the shelf.  There was ample space behind me.  I was just about to pick up an item to look at it further when a staff member walked down the aisle toward me.  The polite thing to do would have been to walk behind me.  Or, at the very least, if there was not enough room, walk in front of me by first saying two simple words.  Those words:  “excuse me.”  This did not happen.  She did not walk behind me.  She walked right in front of me and did not even make a sound.  I had to move backwards to avoid being bumped by the store clerk.  Yes, had I not moved she would have ploughed right through me.  This annoyed and angered me.  I couldn’t help saying “certainly” loud enough so that she would hear me.  She did look in my direction, but I doubt that she understood her rudeness and the message she was sending about her values and by extension, the values of the store.

The question that stays with me however is simple.  What would have happened if an elderly person would have been standing in my place.  What if that person could not have moved as quickly and steadily as I did?  Would she have pushed through anyway sending that person falling to the floor?  I hope not.  I really hope not.

My opinion only worsened when I arrived at the counter to pay for my item.  There were three staff members there, including miss non-manners.  They were talking about a customer and not in a positive light.  They were very vocally complaining about a lady in great detail.  So much detail that I am fairly certain I know who they were referring to.  Completely inappropriate.  So she bought a bunch of stuff and returned it.  So what!  That is her right.  I can only imagine what was said after I left the store.

Had I not had a gift card that I needed to redeem, I would have left the store.  I did make a purchase. I should note however, and this is where I hope Winners is listening to social media conversations, I won’t be going back any time soon.  I hope that this employee is just one person who is so self-absorbed that she doesn’t see how her actions reflect not only on her, but also on the store that she is representing. Furthermore, I hope that Winners has the gumption on a go forward basis to train its employees to vent in private.  Sure, we all have to vent, but don’t vent about customers where customers can hear.   I can’t imagine that these are the values of the Winners store overall.  Surely Winners doesn’t want to be known for rudeness and customer put downs, right?  I don’t think that this is what Winners means when they say that “Everybody Loves To Get A Surprise.”

Thankfully not all stores are like this.  I want to give credit to those that do great customer service too! These are the stores that I will go back to over and over and over again.  I know that I am not alone in this.

Wicker Emporium or “@Wickeremporium online: 

Wicker Emporium on the other hand is always a great experience.  I cannot ever think of an experience in the 25+ years of shopping there that I have ever witnessed rudeness.  Just the opposite actually.

The staff always make eye contact and say hello when you enter a store.  Often times they are busy waiting on other customers and “focusing” on those customers.   I like that they focus on the customer they are dealing with.  It shows that they are paying attention to the customer and in that moment you, the customer, matter.  As soon as they have a chance, they do greet you.

In other cases where they are busy restocking and reorganizing the store they always come to see if you have questions and/or need help.  These ladies, and I say ladies as I have only ever seen women working there, could teach some other retail stores how to “BE” great customer service people.

To all the ladies at Wicker Emporium, and I hope your head office is listening, you rock!  You are great ambassadors for the Wicker Emporium brand and you should be recognized for this.

Do you have a customer service success or failure story to share?

Women, Persons Under the Law

In honour of this day in 1929 when women became persons under the law in Canada, I am reposting this blog that was shared on old blog Being Social in June of this year.

Celebrating women and our accomplishments is one of things we think about when we think of International Women’s Day or during International Women’s Week.  Or, at least I certainly do.  This year however, I have thought about how difficult things remain for women in many parts of the world.

Photo courtesy of:

Photo courtesy of:

It really wasn’t that long ago that women became “persons under the law” in Canada.  In fact, it was less than 100 years.  In 1927 Emily Murphy and four other Canadian women asked the Supreme Court of Canada if the word “persons” in the British North America Act of 1867, included women.  It answered “NO” in 1928.  A year later, with the help of our then Prime Minister, MacKenzie King, the Famous Five appealed to the Privy Council in England.  In 1929, they announced that “…yes, women are persons…”.  Can you imagine?   Less than 100 years ago in Canada I would not have been considered a person, by law!  I can’t imagine that.

The rights of women advanced a snail’s pace faster in the United States with the federal woman suffrage amendment, originally written by Susan B. Anthony and introduced in Congress in 1878,being passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1919. It was then sent to the states for ratification. Again, only slightly better than Canada.

Flash forward to 2013 and unfortunately we see some shocking statistics and behavior.  In my province alone, pay equity is “still” a voluntary initiative.  Yes, you read correctly.  Paying women 80 cents for every dollar that a man is paid is acceptable.  And, yes this is 2013.  So, a woman can have the same education and experience, perhaps even more and doing the same job as the man in the next office, but she is paid less.  Twenty percent less.  And, yes there are cries to have more educated and qualified people working in our province.  While our lifestyle is nice here, there are a couple of provinces adjacent to us that offer the same quality of life.  How do they treat women in those provinces?

While I am not pleased that women are paid less in New Brunswick and our government chooses to think it is acceptable, there are far more appalling behaviours occurring around the world.  Late last year Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl wanting to be educated was shot in the head only because she was a girl and she wanted an education.  Amazingly, she survived and while it will be a very, very long road to some form of recovery, she wants to continue to learn and be educated.

In December we were all outraged by the brutal rape of a 23-year woman on a New Delhi bus.  The story was gut-wrenching.  Despite wanting to live and fighting to live, the injuries were just too serious. And while India was outraged by the incident, just four weeks later another woman travelling by bus to her village was taken to a building where she was raped by seven men.   Just four weeks later!

There are many stories such as these. They do make me stop and think about being a person under the law. I am a person under the law in my country, but not in all.  In my own country and province, according to government, it is acceptable that I would be paid less than my male counterpart if my employer chose to do so.  Even when we have laws of protection, they may or may not be enforced. 

Whether or not you are a woman or a man, what is your take on this?  And, does it even matter to you that International Women’s Week starts on Friday?


5 Reasons “Share If You Agree” Posts Drive Me Crazy

You know these Facebook posts.  The ones that profess love for your family, or that your son or daughter is the most wonderful in the land, or you will be friends for eternity and if you agree you should share (or Like)!  Just this morning I have 15 in my Facebook feed.  Seriously 15!  And, on top of that they were one right after the other.

Share if you agree

So why do they drive me crazy?  Here’s 5 reasons why:

5.  Can you say SCAM?

First and foremost I have to say that sharing a post, or liking a post, is not going to make you rich, have your luck change over night, or make someone fall in love with you.  Of course I am referring to the posts that claim if you share (or Like) it, something miraculous will happen within a set period of time.

4.  Exploitation

People who set these up such posts are often praying on someone’s insecurities or fears.  Think about the posts that show sick children or accidents.  Think about the ones that say “share if you hate [insert disease], ignore if you don’t.  Really?  By ignoring said post I like a disease?

3.  Pollution

Yes, I am calling if Facebook pollution.  It is polluting my Facebook newsfeed and taking away from the things that I want to see.  Real updates from people that I care about.

2.  Social Proof or Herd Instinct

A formal and proven psychological phenomenon, as discussed in depth by Dr. Robert Cialdini, demonstrates that people are influenced by their friends and also the number of people (the herd)  who are involved in an act.  So, if you see that 100,000+ people, some of which are your friends, have shared a Facebook post you feel that you must do it as well.  You want to be a part of the herd.

1.  You Are Making Someone Else Money and You Don’t Realize It!

This is the number one reason for me.  People are playing on all the reasons stated above to make money off of people who don’t realize it.

When someone creates these posts they have a very deliberate motive:  to make money. I am not talking about the companies who create Facebook Contests in order to get you to share or like their page in exchange for the opportunity to win something.  This is legitimate and the business is being up front with you.

Stupid Share

I am talking about the people who want to do this without being up front.  What they are doing is working with Facebook’s algorithm .  By getting more likes, shares and comments it is improving someone’s ranking in the algorithm (some used to call this the EdgeRank) and therefore this means that the better the ranking the more it will show up in other people’s newsfeed.  So, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Everything.  Once the original page hits a certain threshold, the owner can sell the page to another party.  Because it is so popular, it has a better price tag.  The new owner can then update some information and have a ready made community to spam, I mean share information with.  Yup, that is what it is all about.  Dollars.

So, if you agree with this post “Like” and “Share”.  If you don’t, just ignore.

3 Things We Can Learn From Angela Ahrendts Jump to Apple

There is no question that Angela Ahrendts has a lot of street cred when it comes to creating a brand.  The rise of Burberry and timing of Ahrendts joining the company are definitely tied together.  So, what can we learn from her jump to Apple?  Plenty!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

1.  Apple is repositioning

Ahrendts is well known for turning around the Burberry brand and making it desirable again.  Apple has been going gangbusters for some time, but people have begun to ask what is next for Apple.  Unlike Blackberry, Apple has realized that it can’t rest on its laurels.

2.  Women are increasingly important for the Apple brand

Bringing on Ahrendts in this senior role triggers a different message for Apple.  Currently there are not a lot of senior roles filled by women.  With her reputation and capacity of previously and successfully filling a CEO role, this would suggest that Apple is looking to reinforce the importance of women in buying decisions.  The question of course will be fully answered if and when they add her to the board. If they don’t, that could also be telling.  What influence will she carry?

3.  Renewed Global Interests

Ahrendts is responsible for outstanding global growth during her tenure at Burberry.  With her finesse in global markets, it could be a sign that Apple is going to focus or refocus attention on the global market.

With the announcement just being made, there will be much analysis about Apple’s gain and Burberry’s loss.  What do you think about this change?  Hit or miss?  Will Ahrendts be able to shift gears from a luxury brand to a brand that reaches the masses?  Or, is Apple wanting to shift gears and focus on the luxury market?

10 Business Tips From Canada’s Etiquette Guy – Jay Remer

For those of you rolling your eyes right now, I challenge you! I challenge to you think differently.  Etiquette is not about stuffy pompousness to make people uncomfortable.  It is actually just the opposite.  In the words of Jay Remer, Canada’s Etiquette Guy, “Putting others first is what etiquette is all about.”  Etiquette helps us to help others; and I admit it, I like etiquette and think it is important.  Etiquette has guided me through many business and personal functions so that I didn’t make a fool of the person I was accompanying or the people that were kind of enough to welcome me to their function – whether held in a grand ballroom, a conference setting or their home. Etiquette is not just about what fork to use when.  No, it is much bigger than that.  Etiquette is about respecting others’ time and effort.  That is why I was so pleased that Jay agreed to be interviewed for my blog!  Thank you Jay!

Jay Remer

Jay Remer

Jay is absolutely right in his assertion that etiquette is about putting others first.  Etiquette gives you the confidence to know that your actions are not putting others off and/or inconveniencing others.  So, with Thanksgiving upon us (in Canada), let’s get to the questions for Jay.  I know that many others wonder about these things too but are afraid to ask!

Heather-Anne MacLean (HAM):  What time should guests arrive for a dinner party with dinner set for 7:00 p.m.?

Jay Remer (Jay):  If people are asked for dinner at 7, they should also be given an arrival time. Usually 45 minutes to an hour is allowed for drinks, etc. This way the invitation would be for 6:00. Arriving more than 20 minutes late is rude and disrespectful. People must realize that putting on a dinner party is a lot of work. Guests need to show gratitude. Showing up at an appropriate time is important.

HAM:  What is the etiquette around bringing a hostess (or host) gift?  Should you always bring a gift?

Jay:  Hostess gifts are always appreciated, but bringing one to a host you see frequently can be somewhat relaxed. That said, someone else is cooking your food – thank them with a small box of chocolates or a bottle of wine.

HAM:  If you bring wine or food to the host/hostess, should you expect the host/hostess to use said gift that night?

Jay:  A frequently asked question. If one brings a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, the hostess can do as she pleases. It’s a gift! If you wish to contribute wine to the meal, call ahead and ask. Don’t assume the host is not prepared, but do offer to help out.

HAM:  What is the etiquette for presenting the gift?  Should you make a big deal, or do it discreetly?

Jay:  A hostess gift can be sent ahead – such as an arrangement of flowers. Otherwise, the gift is given upon arrival, with no fanfare!

HAM:  What is the appropriate reaction of a host/hostess to a guest that arrives just in time for dinner and vacates immediately after the dinner?

Jay:  A good host never embarrasses a guest – even if it’s a member of the family. There are two suggestions. One – don’t ask them back. They are ungrateful and clearly do not understand the purpose of a dinner party. Two – pull them aside at some point privately and explain that this behaviour is not acceptable. After all, it does annoy a busy hostess who has gone to quite a lot of trouble. If it’s a family member, one needs to wonder where this behaviour was learned in the first place. We do learn the way the monkeys do – mimicking our parents. I am not suggesting that all bad behaviour is taught, but it is important for guidelines to be instilled from birth. So many parents forget to say “No”

HAM:  How should a host/hostess arrange the seating?  Should it be according to traditional plans that dictate that a woman be to the right of the host, etc.?  Or, should it be designed around personalities and efforts to create an environment of conversation?

Jay: In brief, husbands and wives should not be seated next to one another. If possible each woman should have a man on either side of her.

Courting couples should be seated side by side. Children should sit next to a parent. The guest of honour (if there is one) sits to the right of the host or hostess.

HAM:  What is the etiquette when it comes to not liking something that is served?

Jay:  If the meal is a buffet, do not serve yourself something you aren’t going to eat.

If the plates are presented with food on them, if there is a food you do not like, simply move it around your plate a bit. Do not verbalize any displeasure at the dinner table. Do not hide food in the napkin. Feeding it to the dog is acceptable in my book as long as no one sees you. Do not offer food from your plate to others.

(HAM Note: Provided it is food that the dog should and can eat.  For example, never feed a dog chicken or turkey bones.)

HAM: Should people turn off and put away their mobile devices while at (or hosting) a dinner party?

Jay:  Yes, unless he or she is a doctor on call or one may be expecting an emergency call. Then the phone can be put on vibrate, but never placed on the dinner table.

HAM: Is there an appropriate response/reaction for a host/hostess or guests should another person be consumed with one’s mobile device?  (assuming of course that there is no emergency)

Jay:  In an effort to avoid any embarrassing situations, if this is a likely scenario, simply request before the meal commences that cell phones are not permitted at the table. It’s your house (or dinner party) and your rules are what one follows.

HAM:  In today’s modern environment, is it still appropriate to send a thank you note the day after a dinner party?  If so, would email be appropriate?

Jay:  A thank you note is always appropriate. An email is often used and is acceptable, but not preferable. There is no substitute for a hand written note.

And last question (the bonus round)

HAM:  Do you find people turning more towards or away from etiquette in our fast-paced world of selfies and look-at-me environment that social media has created?

Jay:  People seem to have lapsed into an etiquette coma. Putting others first is what etiquette is all about. This is not an arduous, painful, or unpleasant action. Teach your children good manners from birth – no exceptions! We cannot blame our bad manners on social media. We must bear the responsibility of how successfully we do or do not connect with other people. 

Jay suit fountain (2)

Etiquette is not about dinner parties.  As I mentioned in the opening of this post, I have relied upon what I was taught growing up to guide me through many, many business functions.  Being able to show respect for others in business and social settings is very important.  It could be the difference between getting a job or not getting a job.  Etiquette continues to matter and can give you the leg up.  So, get your etiquette on and show your human side!

For more information, check out Jay’s website:  The Etiquette Guy.