This past weekend, a group of friends planned a night out. We chose a new restaurant with great reviews, called an Uber and got out of the suburbs for a night … of disappointment.

The disappointment was caused by something very basic to the restaurant business—customer service. The server was very slow, got our drink orders wrong and rarely came by our table to check on us. The food was mediocre—not great but not bad. However, had the customer service been exceptional, we might have overlooked our disappointment in the food.

At one time or another, most of us have had the unpleasant experience of being treated rudely, ignored or abandoned altogether by people whose job it is to provide you with a given product or service.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these gentle reminders of how to bring customer service back to the workplace.

Start your interaction on the right foot. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t squander it by being indifferent. Begin with a simple display of common courtesy: smile and greet potential customers with “hello,” “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or “welcome.”

Say “please” and “thank you,” and do it often. “Please” and “thank you” are the WD-40 of solid customer service. Used with sincerity, those three words quiet the occasional squeaky wheel, build rapport and demonstrate respect.

Be mentally present when interacting with the people you serve. For starters, stop toying with pencils, paperclips or even your cell phone when you are talking with customers. Close your tablet, mute your phone, make and maintain eye contact, and listen to what your customer is saying. You will step up your effectiveness and efficiency by giving your customers and clients your undivided attention. That doesn’t mean your interactions will take more time; in fact, they might take less time because your consumers will reward you for putting them first.

Let the people you serve know what happens next. You know how your business works but those you serve may not. Eliminate uncertainty by taking the time to familiarize your customers with processes. When you do, you’ll find they are more likely to feel comfortable and confident in your abilities.

In a world crowded with sincerely insincere messages, you can stand out from your competitors by taking the time to put yourself in the position of your customers. In short, that’s what good manners are all about.

Source: Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.