Promises, Promises-The gap between the business message and civility

By Vida Jurisic

[caption id="attachment_2455" align="alignleft" width="173" caption="Vida Jurisic"]Vida Jurisic[/caption]

Every small business in this country wants to be heard and is vying for client attention and retention with its message. But there is one BIG piece of the message machine that is growing really threadbare on delivery – it’s CIVILITY. Yep, you read right and I bet some of you are already starting to review the mental civility visuals that you’ve experienced lately.

Here are some examples I’m sure you will relate to:

I’ll call you in two hours

You call a potential client and you get her voicemail. “I’m sorry, I’m not in right now but please leave a message and I’ll be sure to return your call in two business hours.” WOW – that‘s some response. So you check the clock just about two hours later and get ready for the phone to ring. No call. Three hours later; no call. Two days later; still no call. So you call again and get the same cheery message. What to do? Forgive? Forget? Keep calling? Is it worth it?

You’ll get the quote before noon on Thursday

It’s Tuesday morning. You’ve had a great conversation with a person you think you want to hire to manage your new project. You really feel that he “got it.” He promises to call you on Thursday before noon with a quote for his fees. But by late Thursday afternoon, you suddenly realize he didn’t call you. “Something came up and most likely he’ll call before the end of the day,” you tell yourself. As you’re leaving that evening, he still hasn’t called you back. “How come I read him so wrong?” Disappointment sets in and now, you hope just to get a satisfactory answer in the morning. Will you? Won’t you?

Can’t talk—meeting’s off!

You’ve been looking forward to interviewing that leading light in your business field who was only available one day this month, Sunday, at six a.m., in a city four hours away by plane. Never mind, you need him to OK that innovative idea you have for streamlining your data information storage. He also told you to be sure to call him Friday to confirm that all was on schedule. So you do. He answers: “I’m on a long-distance with Japan, call me back in 20 minutes. No, let me call you back.” OK – he’s going to call you back but you have no clue when that will be. You’ve already reserved your ticket for early on Saturday morning…

Soon, five hours have passed and he hasn’t called back. You try his home phone and he answers, “Sorry, I’m just off to have supper. Call me in an hour.” You do. He’s not there. You call his cell and the voicemail message comes on. You’re desperate. You go to bed because you have to leave early the next day. At about five a.m., the phone rings and it’s him. “Look, I’m really sorry. The meeting’s off. I have to leave for Japan in two hours to put out one #@!!$! of a fire – Just got the call. I’m really interested in your project, so can we set up our meeting in two weeks when I get back?” And hangs up. Is this for real? Yes. Did you deserve this? No. What now? Your guess is as good as mine.

Believe me, I’m an optimist – honest. In fact, I can say that most of my business dealings with clients have been courteous and richly rewarding. In fact, I believe that most business people are decent. It’s just that that the headlines are replete with stories of “those” who get away with hair-raising, uncivil behaviour by bailing out on their promises whenever it suits them – any time, anywhere.

But you and I know we’re not like “those people.” So how about a big cheer for the decent, hardworking Canadian small business operators who earn the trust of their clients daily by actually delivering the promises their business message conveys, in keeping with civility inspired by behaviour that comes from the heart.

About Vida Jurisic

An award-winning writer and editor with a diversified Canadian and international clientèle, Vida Jurisic has written in the areas of retail, food processing, public works, visual communications, insurance, law enforcement, customer service, travel, corporate profiles, and health and seniors' issues. She is a silver award recipient from the National Mature Media Awards that recognizes the best advertising, marketing and educational materials produced for adults aged 50 and over. At ease writing for traditional and electronic media, Vida is currently editor of Luggage, Leathergoods and Accessories Magazine that has been the voice of the Canadian luggaage, leather gloods and accessories industry for 43 years. Vida's fluency in French and English enlarges her network of information resources both nationally and internationally, bringing an added dimension to her client services. As a result, she has successfully worked with editors in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, has participated in press trips to Spain and Belgium and provided interpretation services to business missions from France. Moreover, Vida works as a consultant to help new businesses as well as businesses that are expanding or experiencing change to prosper by promoting a consistent business message to their diverse business audiences. Raised in Montreal, Vida now makes her home in Toronto. She is past president of the International Trade Club of Toronto, a unique not-for-profit organization whose mission is to assist members comprising trade commissioners and export and import companies in promoting, exchanging and developing trade expertise.

By Adam

August 09, 2010