Your grandmother, no doubt, never tired of telling you manners cost nothing and whilst, arguably, manners do maketh man, they can also maketh profits since customers will not only keep coming back, but will recommend you to friends and family.

The simple ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ are possibly the most powerful words in the English dictionary, yet, we know from our own experience just how often people forget to use them whether it’s the sour-faced misery at the supermarket checkout, the old dear who pushes in the queue, the sullen teenager behind the bar or our kids who expect to be chauffeured around at the drop of a hat. Not to mention those infuriating motorists who never raise a hand in thanks when you’ve pulled in to allow them to pass. Now we have your attention!

Cast your mind back to the last time you were in a customer-facing situation and you were on the receiving end of a few pleasantries and courtesies, the customer service may not have been out-of-this-world, to be fair, if the transaction was quick and straightforward, there isn’t much time for someone to floor you with their exemplary service, but a please and thank-you would have left you feeling warm inside.

A few polite words and a nice smile can be enough to secure a customer’s loyalty.

Once your ‘nice’ (hey, don’t knock it) culture is firmly established, you can up your game and try interspersing your service with what AutoTrader refers to as ‘delighters’. The online car sales directory undertakes extensive consumer research to best understand car-buyers’ behavior online and in the showroom. Not surprisingly, consumers say it’s the little things which make a company stand out.

These ‘delighters’ can be anything which demonstrates a company’s willingness to go the extra mile such as dropping a customer at the train station when a car has been booked in for a service, making sure a busy mum’s car is ready for collection in time for the school run or not charging for labour when you change a bulb for a customer who pops in on the off chance you can spare 10 minutes to fit it.

But be warned, AutoTrader also highlights ‘disappointers’, these niggling, annoying things that can actually turn people off your business. Ironically, they are not the big things, it’s not returning phone calls, being passed from pillar to post or having to explain the same thing half-a-dozen times. They may sound small, but they can lose you customers.

The former chief of the John Lewis Partnership, the retailer held in the highest esteem when it comes to customer service, Andrew McMillan, often talked about ‘random acts of kindness‘ as a key differentiator. We’re back to those little things that mean a lot.

The first step is to ensure everyone in your garage makes full use of the ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ in a genuine manner and even engages in polite but pleasant conversation with your customers. If you’re confident your employees are achieving this on a daily basis, it could be time to take it to the next stage and incorporate ‘delighters’ into your working days and when the situation arises, carry out a ‘random act of kindness’. Remember the teenage Aldi employee who carried home a pensioner’s shopping and in so doing hit the headlines? As your grandmother always said, manners cost nothing and people always remember the nice touch, even if they weren’t the direct beneficiary.

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