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I really wish I didn’t have to write a post like this. Quite frankly in the time we live in – the information age, where everyone is sharing their opinions with hundreds of others, it baffles me that people still don’t get the message.

I have dealt with a very large number of businesses and government departments recently, so this doesn’t just come from a couple of isolated incidents. I have repeatedly experienced the sort of rudeness that, if one were a customer, would stop them going back to a particular store. What people don’t realise is that in this world, everyone is a customer. They may not be buying anything from you and in many cases they may need you rather you needing them, however the way you treat them will define the type of business you run. In addition, just because there is no immediately quantifiable consequence as a result of your actions, that doesn’t mean you will not live to regret it down the track.

What I am talking about here is communication. I’m going to give two examples for context. Company 1 interviewed me recently for a position. It turned out I wasn’t fully qualified, but they were impressed so offered me a contract position. I was given the number of a national manager in a different department who would fit me in. I tried for weeks to get a hold of him, always being told “I’ll get back to you”. He never did. When I did manage to get him on the phone for 5 minutes, there were vague promises and nothing happened. I even sent messages to him at times which he set and got nothing in reply.

Company 2 wanted to meet with me to discuss future work opportunities. This involved the national manager and state manager coming to me from interstate. While the meeting has been pushed back multiple times, they have always been polite and courteous. They have constantly apologised and thanked me each time for following up.

Which company would you rather work for? Which company would you rather deal with? I don’t think any reasonable person out there would agree with the conduct of company 1. A national manager that never returns phone calls is, well, ridiculous. What too many people fail to realise is that whatever their position, they (and by extension their company) are always being judged. Company 1 removed me from their database after I sent an email informing them that I didn’t appreciate their conduct. No doubt they have just washed their hands of the incident. What they don’t realise is that I have hundreds of friends in their sector who I will be more than happy to tell about the incident.

There is a great quote from the Bible (if I recall correctly) that says something to the effect of “measure a man by how he treats one that can do him absolutely no good”. Treating anyone that contacts you (regardless of if they are a customer in the traditional sense) as though they are inconsequential is not only rude but a terrible way to do business. People remember, and when they have a chance to tell anyone, they will. The result – your reputation takes a nosedive.

All it takes is to follow these rules:

1. If someone emails, leaves a voicemail message, sends a text message, get back to them within one business day. If you don’t have enough time on any given day, at the very least contact them to tell them that you have their message and will get back to them within x number of days.

2. If you tell someone that you are going to get back to them, actually get back to them. Don’t make them continue to chase you up.

3. Follow the golden rule – treat others as you wish to be treated.

Not too complicated, is it?