The etiquette of business can be defined as, “the set of written and unwritten rules of conduct that make social [and business] interactions run more smoothly.” Whether you previously turned to Robert’s Rules of Order or Emily Post’s Etiquette, times have certainly changed in the business world.
Here we discuss some of the most common and modern business etiquette tips you should know.
Connected to Business 24/7
Who killed the 9 to 5 workday? This highly debatable topic was addressed in our recent article, Why Customer Service is a 24/7/365 Job. The fact of the matter is that with the growing use of mobile devices, any employee or specific brand is expected to cater to customers and colleagues 24/7.
Since customers and business affiliates are able to reach you all day, every day, it’s hard to know when to unplug. Let’s try to tackle some of the most common cell phone business etiquette tips.
Cell Phone Disruptions
This etiquette tip is listed first because it plagues boardrooms and offices everywhere. We live in a 24/7 connected world and so “normal business hours” or “away from the office” business terms no longer apply.
Keeping the 24/7 rule in mind, it’s still considered bad business etiquette to text or answer calls while in a meeting. A Forbes article, Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones into Meetings, sheds light on some pretty interesting statistics that will make you power down for meetings.
• 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings
• 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during formal meetings
• 75% think it’s inappropriate to read texts or emails during formal meetings
• 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during any meetings
• At least 22% think it’s inappropriate to use phones during any meetings
Even though modern business has brought us advanced communication devices, the old business etiquette tips of giving someone your undivided attention still apply.
Forwarding Calls to Voicemail
Before forwarding that caller to voicemail, please consider this important statistic, “67% of customers hang up on a phone connection out of frustration they could not talk to a real person.” So if you’re not in a position to offer 24-hour telephone support to your calling customers, an affordable after-hour business answering service will work wonders for you.
If for some reason you don’t want your business calls answered when you’re in a meeting or eating dinner at home with your family, record a professional voicemail greeting. So many times an employee will have their business calls ring to their personal cell phone. If you’re doing this, be certain that your voicemail greeting is professional and not inappropriate or too informal.
Grasshopper.com shares a great 10-point checklist for recording the best business professional voicemail greeting. Click here before recording your cell phone or business line voicemail message to get great tips and advice.
The Digital Handshake
Maybe you remember the old days of doing business that always involved a firm and confident handshake. In the modern and digital age, how do you convert that face to face handshake to an online figure or contact?
Here we list our favorite variations to give out professional handshakes in 2016.
- Introducing Yourself to Big Players
Introducing yourself to key companies and employees in your industry has never been easier. Once guarded by front office receptionists and gatekeepers, these global companies are now participating on social media sites; allowing you direct access to them in some cases.
The monster business social site, LinkedIn, shares an excellent resource that details 42 leading business networking sites you may not have heard of. Go ahead and cruise around the key player profiles in your industry and make an introduction. Shoot them a quick message letting them know who you are and how you’d like to collaborate. This is the modern day way to offer a firm and confident first handshake to future affiliates.
- Following Up Through Video Email
Jive Systems has a very direct and easy solution to the age-old business handshake for following up on a conversation. They explain, “People who drive sales in the digital age all face the problem of building trust and rapport. In an ideal world, you would shake the client’s hand and look them in the eye to begin a new relationship. However, nowadays that is time and cost prohibitive.”
Click here to see their quick tutorial on how easy a digital handshake can be.
- Closing the Deal
If you’re a wheelin’ and dealin’ salesperson that still goes door to door to visit with potential and existing customers, there’s a new program that helps you focus on the physical handshake. Handshake is a software company that is trying to bring business-to-business commerce into the digital age. It allows you to navigate through all important fact sheets, customer account information, product information, service orders, etc. from your tablet.
This software reminds you that a physical handshake is still very important in building relationships. Take a tip from this software giant, be prepared (whether you’re using a PowerPoint presentation or the ecommerce software). When you’re organized and prepared to close the deal, you can give more focus to your customer when you’re face to face.
- Thank You for Your Business
Stand out from the crowd by handwriting a thank you note to your customers; thanking them for their business. If you don’t have the time or resources to devote to snail mail thank you notes, we have some creative ideas for you to get the same message across in the digital age.
Instead of offering that firm and gracious handshake, try any one of the suggestions listed in our recent article: Creative Ways to Say Thank You to Your Customers. Don’t see thank you notes as outdated. See them as an opportunity to show your gratitude and also reiterate your business’s goals, values and culture to your customers.
Here are some quick do’s and don’ts for how to handle yourself in a prestigious and professional manner.
- ✓ Make your personal Facebook and other social media profile PRIVATE.
- ✓ Don’t text customers or colleagues you’re running late; be on time.
- ✓ If you’re an office gossiper, keep incriminating messages off your email.
- ✓ Don’t call in sick to work and then check-in to a local event.
- ✓ Suffer from nomophobia, get help! Click here for the definition of nomophobia.
- ✓ Don’t ignore emails, texts or voicemails. Be professional and respond accordingly.
- ✓ Take your client relations offline and offer to visit their offices every once in a while.
- ✓ Don’t email when a phone call would be more helpful and efficient.
- ✓ Try to visit with your cubicle colleagues to promote office relationships.
- ✓ Don’t hold a business Skype conference in your pajamas.
- ✓ Save emoticons for personal use and omit in business correspondence.
Even though we live in a modern and digital world, use your business instincts. If you’re wondering if something is business appropriate, chances are, it isn’t. You would never second guess giving someone a firm and confident handshake at the beginning and end of a meeting. You instinctively know what’s acceptable and what isn’t so listen to that voice in your head.
We have been providing award winning customer service since first opening our business in Orlando, Florida back in 1986. Over the past 3 decades, we have seen many changes in the business world and the secret to our longevity is evolving with the times. Embrace the convenient technology offered but never underestimate the power of human interaction.
We hope these business etiquette tips help you conduct yourself in the best possible light to survive the digital age.