Please smile politely, thank you

ice cream van

It may be an old fashioned attitude but, to me, good manners and politeness are still an important part of everyday life.

Today, such things as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are so often ignored as we go about our 21st century lives.

Sadly for children in our modern society, the lapse in the use of common courtesy comes from people who should themselves be good role models and should also be correcting their offspring for not being polite.

I saw an example of this lapse in the following story posted on Facebook from Joanne, a friend of mine.

She wrote: “So I’m up at the beach and decide to get an ice cream from the usual Mr. Happy go Lucky man, due to the fact there isn’t another one there, and I say with a smile: ‘Could I have a 99 please?’ Expressionless man says ‘£2.20.’ Note, no ‘please’ and this is as he is doing my ice cream. He shoves the flake in and practically throws it at me. I say ‘Have you any red stuff (fruit sauce) please? A very emphatic NO was the reply! If I hadn’t been so hungry I would have told him what to do with his ice cream.

“So I take it back to my car, then a man comes to the car next to me with four ice creams and says to me: ‘How on earth do they do any business here? What an obnoxious man selling ice creams.’

OK, so he may not have been as busy as he wanted but, for goodness sake, at least smile. I will NOT be spending money with him again.”

I commented: “Not a great example of customer relations or good manners.”

And Joanne replied: “No, not at all Ian, but I’m afraid it seems to becoming the norm.”

Is it? I hope not. It does seem to be here in the UK but I wonder about the rest of the world. So many societies have politeness and good manners as intrinsic values but we seem to have forgotten how to make good use of them.

In this guy’s case, he is certainly not doing himself any favours in terms of business and he clearly knows nothing about good customer relations.

When it comes in increasing profits, it’s essential to give attention to existing customers and for an ice cream vendor that means a friendly smile, a chatty attitude and offering each customer that ‘something extra’, such as having the fruit sauce available and offering to add it free of charge – without waiting to be asked.

If he is incapable of doing that, or unwilling, maybe he should find a job which does not involve contact with customers or the public. He certainly appears to find a sales role unfulfilling.

Satisfying existing customers is essential to keeping any business thriving and the way to attract repeat business is to treat all customers in a way that has a positive effect on them.

A simple ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ would be a good start and that would also be a great example for all children.

• There are other examples of good/bad service and good/bad customer relations that will be the subject of a future blog – or two.