Managing Your Service Department: When Was the Last Time You Heard “Yes Ma’am” or “No Sir”?

I am 69 years old and was raised in Virginia. When I grew up, most young people were trained by their parents to respect their elders. The terms “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am” were a means of showing respect. I don’t know about you, but it has been a long time since I have witnessed true respect for the older generation. However, every once in a while, I hear someone respond with a “Yes Sir” or “No Sir.” When I hear it, I immediately turn to see who said it. Not only that, but even without seeing the individual, my thoughts are “Wow, that person was well trained by his or her parents to respect older people.” I am also curious to find out who that individual works for.

Not long ago, I was in a fast food restaurant and I witnessed a young person behind the counter use language that conveyed total respect for the older customer they were serving. I turned to my wife and said, “That person won’t be working here long!” When employees treat the older generation with respect, it is so rare and refreshing that it will be noticed. Before long, one of those customers will be asking for a name and suggesting the individual give them a call about a possible job opportunity.

There is only one opportunity to make a first impression. When the employee’s attitude is outstanding, they are neatly dressed, have basic customer service skills, and are genuinely respectful of the customer, young or old, it makes a lasting and positive first impression. If you can find an individual like that, hire them immediately. You can train them to do the office job, or learn technician skills, but you can’t train attitude!

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