Whether we are dealing with external customers or internal customers like our colleagues and associates, it is important that our behaviour is consistent and projects a professional image of the company.
Being punctual for work, for all meetings, appointments and deadlines is a golden rule as it shows respect to others. Working to create a pleasant environment where everyone greets each other, treats all as equals, shares resources equally and refrains from gossip, rumours and backstabbing is essential. Presenting yourself well by wearing your uniform with pride or dressing appropriately, showing initiative, being accurate and knowledgeable in your work, and having a good and positive attitude is also an asset.
On the other hand, there are some colleagues who are constantly late, careless, messy and inconsiderate, who bark order and make demands on others, who steal stationery and other office equipment, who take long tea or lunch breaks, take unnecessary sick or personal leave, and who make personal calls, use social media or play games online in the office, or who use office equipment for personal benefits. Avoid being considered one of these colleagues.
When at the frontline, do smile and make eye contact with the persons approaching and then greet them appropriately. Stop what you are doing and be quick to respond by offering help. Find out who they are meeting and contact the necessary person. If they have to wait, offer them a seat or drink. If you are on the line, smile and make eye contact with the walk-in customers to acknowledge them. Do try to finish the call as soon as possible; otherwise, request to place the caller on hold and attend to the face-to-face customers.
Introduce yourself if necessary, but never call yourself by your title like Mrs Tan or Mr Pereira, or identify yourself by only your surname. When walking, walk briskly towards them, if not stand up straight when you meet them. Initiate a handshake with a firm grip and create some small talk with your customers as it shows interest. Address them by name only when they request so. Give your undivided attention to all customers and do not waste their time. End the meeting politely by summarising the essential points. Then walk them to the door as a courteous gesture.
When you visit an office, always be on time but do not arrive too early. Greet the receptionist, give your name and state who you want to see. While waiting, sit quietly and do not bother the other staff. Do not display impatience and be courteous to all you meet. Introduce yourself if it is the first meeting, and wait to be offered a seat. Present what you have to say by getting straight to the point and do not waste another’s time. Know when to leave, then say “Thank you” and end the meeting with a handshake.
If you have been given a referral, do call to make an appointment to see them. Clearly state who you are and do let them know who has referred you. Introduce your company and what you do and tell them what you can do or what you would like from them. Remember to leave your name and contact number.
When hosting visitors and entertaining them, ensure that someone is there to greet and meet them. If necessary, pick the guest up from the airport or at least send someone on your behalf. If you are taking a taxi, you should pay the fare and be prepared with the right amount of change. It would be nice also to escort your guests from arrival, to the door and to their transport.
If you are meeting at a restaurant, be a few minutes early. Always choose a restaurant that you are familiar with. You can wait outside for the guest. But if you have never met, it may be good to take a seat first, but leave your guest’s name at the reception as well as your own. Ask the waiter for the menus and place orders for both your guest and yourself. As host, do settle the bill and try not to pay in cash.
If you are invited as the guest, do be on time as being late can ruin a sit-down meal. Avoid bunching with colleagues or staying in a corner, near the bar, the food table or at the door. On arrival, greet your host or introduce yourself. Introduce yourself to others there and try to initiate a conversation. Always keep a hand free so that you can shake hands when introduced or be able to exchange namecards. Never over eat, over drink or behave badly. Before leaving, remember to thank your host.