I’m currently sitting in a car repair shop getting my annual auto safety inspection, so I can legally drive my car for the next year. While waiting, the shop owner came up to me and apologized that there would be a delay in my inspection since the state examiner just stopped in to perform an inspection of the emissions machine. He explained that he can’t just ask him to stop so he can perform the needed inspection on my car. He also shared his frustration that this person will just show up with no advanced notification allowing him to better plan and schedule for his customers. A conversation then followed on how none of his vendors extend the common courtesy of notifying him before they arrive to perform their service. This got me thinking back to my upbringing.
In the day when I was raised, I was taught that you never just drop in on someone. You call before you arrive just to make sure they are expecting you. It was even acceptable to offer short notice, but you at least call and let the other person know you would like to stop by and your coming. If the timing was not right on their end, they might apologize that the timing was not good and ask you to stop by at a later date. Or, they would just run around like crazy making the house look as presentable as possible. Sure, you might be received at the door with the person you are visiting sweating a bit at the brow. You felt a little guilt knowing you caused them to rush around the house making it presentable in just 5 to 10 minutes, but you also knew they didn’t care so much since they were gaining in some way from the visit. Regardless of the amount of notice you gave, it was common courtesy to make contact by phone and let them know you would be stopping by.
This etiquette and common courtesy was taught in a time before the existence of cell phones. If you were on the road and remembered you were close to a friend or relative, you still had to find a pay phone nearby to make this call. In the day of cellular/smart phones in pretty much every hand, you would think this courtesy would be extended on a personal and professional basis on a regular basis.
Like the auto shop owner, I spoke with, I also get frustrated when service organizations fail to make the basic contact notifying customers of their visit. I know it’s hard to schedule a service representative down to the minute or even the hour for a day, but when you give me a 4 hour window, it should would be nice to receive a call to say, “hey, I’m on my way and I’ll be at your location shortly to take care of your need.”
In our attempts to be efficient, we fail to use the very tools in our hands that were created to help us be more efficient and effective. To all businesses interested in growing your business, getting more referrals, and improving your online rankings, go back in time a bit and remember the basic courtesy of calling before you arrive.
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