A Polite Response is Reciprocal

Recently, I’ve noticed an impolite practice from some of our vendors. When you connect with a person in customer service, this is the initial exchange

“Hello, I’m Steve. May I have your account number?”

Rather asking me to reciprocate and introduce myself – as is a common and expected practice in our culture – they immediately ask for information I’m unfamiliar with, frequently not ready to recite, and may not be relevant to the forthcoming conversation.

Then they ask for my name.

From my perspective – the customer – this starts the conversation off disrespectfully. By simply flipping the order of the statements, a more polite, customer-sensitive interaction is promoted. I submit:

“Hello, my name is Steve. Who am I speaking with?”

“Hi Steve, this is Garrick Van Buren.”

“Mr. Van Buren how may I assist you?”

“Steve, I’d like to update my billing address.”

“I can assist you with that. To start, may I have your account number?”

This is the customer service equivelant of small talk, same as talk radio callers starting with “thanks for taking my call”. These statements act as a buffer, setting the expectations for the upcoming interaction, and getting both parties on equal footing. Without them, we’re worse than machines, for even computers have handshakes.

As you go about your day, be conscious of the small communications that start up successful transations: a smile, eye contact, a simple “How are you?/Well Thank you.” These are simple tools here to make our every day easier.

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