photo-560Tipping Your Way Through Your Summer Vacation: Who to Tip and How Much

 

Mmmm! Do you smell that? Burgers sizzling on the grill as the warm breeze catches your hair. The sound of children’s laughter echoing throughout your backyard. The sun still high in the sky, making the clear blue surface of the pool sparkle and shimmer.

 

Summer is well on its way, bringing with it relaxing family vacations and romantic weekend getaways. Maintain your peace of mind and your confidence throughout your trip by knowing exactly who you should be tipping in your travels, and just how much.

 

Transportation

 

Taxi Driver: At least 15%

 

Valet Parking Staff: $2-$5 paid at retrieval

 

Car Wash Staff: $2-$5 for assembly line. At least 10% for detailing

 

Airport Shuttle/Curbside Assistance: $2-$4 per bag. Consider a $5 minimum. $10 for wheelchair service

 

Limo/Town Car: 15%-20% if gratuity not included. Tip more if tolls are paid by driver out of pocket

 

Restaurants

 

Server: 15% – 20% before coupons and discounts

 

Bartender: 15% -20% for a tab. $1-$2 per drink otherwise

 

Buffet: At least 10%

 

Restroom Attendant: $1-$2

 

Car-Side Delivery: At least 10%

 

Home Delivery: 10%-15%

 

Hotels

 

Doormen: $2-$5 if they provide a service other than opening the door

 

Bellmen: $2 per bag. Consider a $5 minimum

 

Concierge: $5-$20, depending on service. (Not needed for directions or quick questions)

 

Housekeeping: $3-$5. Tip daily as staff changes. Include thank-you notes

 

Room Service: 15%-20% if gratuity is not already included

How to Be a Phone Conference Pro

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 How to be a Phone Conference Pro

If talking on the phone to a group of people makes you a little nervous, you’re not alone. Any meeting where you can’t see the other individuals can be tricky. Is the person who’s speaking taking a breath, or are they waiting for you to speak? Can you express your idea now, or is someone else going to chime in with theirs? Should you even be talking?  Boost your confidence with these conference call etiquette tips.

 

Create a Quiet Zone: Even if you only expect the call to take five minutes, you don’t want to be interrupted. Close your office door so nobody walks in with a story, and turn off your email and personal cell phone so you’re not distracted with new messages mid-call. Be proactive about unexpected noise by closing office windows and turning the computer’s audio off.

 

Buy a Headset: This will be one of the best purchases you make. A headset can help clarify the speaker’s voice, clarify your own voice, and allow you to have long conversations without holding the phone or shouting at a speaker.

 

Record the Call: In addition to taking notes throughout the phone call, you may want to consider getting permission to record it, especially if there’s information being covered that you don’t want to forget.

 

Have a Moderator: If there’s a large group taking part in the conference call, you may want to designate a moderator. This person would enforce rules from the start on how others can signify their desire to speak. They would also prevent people talking over one another or talking too much.

 

Use the Mute Button: Know where your phone’s mute button is before you need it. Should you need to sneeze, cough, or whisper something to a coworker, you don’t want it relayed to the other people on the line. (Don’t assume the mute button works. You should still refrain from saying anything you wouldn’t want everyone else to hear.) (Don’t use a hold button, as this may play music.)

 

Refrain From Eating or Drinking: Never eat or drink while talking on the phone. If you need a sip of water, use the mute button.

 

Chip In: You’ve been asked to a conference call for a reason. It’s best that you do your part by adding a comment or making a suggestion so everyone knows you’re present and engaged.

 

Speak Slowly: Because others on the conference call aren’t able to see your facial expressions, the way you convey a message through your voice is very important. Surrounding noise or break ups in the line can prevent your thoughts and ideas from being made clear. Do your best to speak strongly, clearly and slowly so everyone can understand.

3 Etiquette Tips for Emailing a Very Busy Person

3 Etiquette Tips for Emailing a Very Busy Person

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Email has been getting a bad reputation. According to a 2012 report published by the McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp., emailing takes up 28 percent of workers’ time. It’s no wonder it’s recently been called one of the largest barriers to productivity, and no wonder those who receive hundreds or even thousands of emails each day try to weed them out the best they can. Make sure your email gets read with these three simple but effective emailing tips.

 

Put It All In The Subject: Assume from the start that your email isn’t going to be opened. All you have is a single line to really get your point across. Be as specific as possible and include as much information as you can.

 

Do: I Will Call You Tuesday 9 a.m. To Discuss Smith Project

Don’t:  Smith project

 

Maximize Your First Line: Many email programs have the option of showing the first line of your message while it’s sitting in the inbox. In addition, a very busy person may open your email but not read the whole thing. What this comes down to is that the opening to your email is prime real estate. While it’s often considered kind to wish someone well or ask about family before getting down to business, on a Monday morning, many don’t have time for this. Get to your point quickly and save your personal conversation for the end of your message.

 

Do: Our phone meeting for the Smith Project is scheduled for…..

Don’t: Hello, I hope you had a great weekend. You sure did have nice weather…

 

Send at the Right Time: By sending an email to someone who’s out of the office for the night or on vacation for the week, there’s a good chance your message will get lost amongst so many others. Send your messages on weekday mornings when they’re more likely to be checked.

Maintaining Respect in a Diverse Workplace

images-13Maintaining Respect in a Diverse Workplace

 

Today’s professionals are working in the most diversified office culture in United States’ history. The early 20th century mostly employed Caucasian men. In the 1950s and 60s, minorities began to enter the workforce, followed by women in the 70s and 80s. The 90s brought new technology that allowed companies to easily conduct business internationally, joining billions of people together, all with different cultures and ideas. When the economy weakened in the 2000s, many men and women who would have retired were not able to, widening the age gap amongst employees.

 

Now more than ever, office workers should be aware of the multicultural, multigenerational workplace atmosphere. Respect your bosses, coworkers, customers and clients with these office etiquette tips

 

Multicultural Tips:

 

Be Open Minded: Expect to come in contact with opinions, beliefs, habits, traditions, communication styles, holidays, food and dress different than your own. Regardless of your personal preferences, it’s important that you respect and accommodate others.

 

Learn About Other Cultures: Don’t rely on what you’ve heard or what you’ve seen on TV. Educate yourself on ways of life other than your own. Encourage regular cross-cultural meetings at your workplace.

 

Resist Generalizing: Just because two people share the same culture doesn’t necessarily mean they’re alike. Instead of making assumptions, get to know each person individually.

 

Multigenerational Tips: 

 

Respect Differences in Knowledge: Young professionals can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the business, while older professionals have decades of experience. Recognize the value in both points of view.

 

Understand Generational Values: Each generation was raised in a different kind of world. Generation X (1965 – 1980) tends to focus on productivity and results, while Generation Y (1980-1994) places a higher value on self-expression and creativity. Be aware of these differences. Instead of trying to alter them, learn how they can further benefit your team.

 

Set/Get Clear Communication Expectations: A millennial employee may not see a problem with using social media or text to contact the boss, while older professionals may see this as inappropriate. Have solid communication guidelines in place for everyone to follow.

 

Are Customers Hanging Up on Your Business’ Phone Etiquette?

phone etiquetteA study from Experian last May revealed people were spending 58 minutes per day on their smartphones, and 26% of the time talking on the phones. Let’s do a little math.

Every…
Day, people spend 15 minutes on the phone
Week = 1 hr 45 min
Month = 7 hr 30 min
Quarter = 22 hr 30 min
Year = 91 hr 15 min = 3 days 19 hr 15 min

If you work in customer service or sales, it’s likely you spend even more time on the phone, as I found 15 minutes per day to be a little low. As technology around our phones becomes better and better, the time spent on them will continue to increase.

With this type of evidence available, which boosts our internal hunch that we spend plenty of time on our phones to begin with, over-the-phone manners will continue to be a point of distinction for businesses. For example:

You call Bob’s Auto Body to ask if they have any time to work on your car this morning. The person on the phone is short with their responses, inattentive, and sounds like they’re eating breakfast in between answers. There is an opening, but you’re hesitant.

You also call Allen’s Auto Repair, where the employee is cheerful, quick to respond, asks your name and car’s make/model, and briefly puts you on hold to check with the manager. He gets back on the phone to say there is an opening, and makes sure you have directions to the shop.

Which do you choose?

Of course we’d choose Allen’s! If you’re like me, you’d also choose them even if there wasn’t availability until tomorrow, or if they’re a little more expensive. Does this make sense?

Definitely!

Even in a short phone conversation, we can build the necessary trust with people to turn them from inquiring calls to raving fans. To give another example, a friend of mine was looking for a plumber to fix his sink. He turned to Yelp for recommendations, and found a plumber with several 5-star reviews. Good start! He called, and the plumber answered with a cheery greeting. My friend described his issue, and the plumber said, “I can tell you how to fix that over the phone, grab a wrench!” Within 15 minutes of calling the plumber, my friend had his pipe fixed, and was a client for life. All because of the plumber’s willingness to help, and world-class etiquette skills over the phone.

You may be thinking “I’m a little removed from the customer calls at my company, they’re taken by Susan, Rob, and Kate”. If this is the case, I implore you to hang around and listen in on what a customer conversation is like. Are they bright and cheery? Do they make every effort to answer the customer’s question? Do they use basic etiquette responses like please and thank you, and you’re welcome?

If you’re in a position of leadership, it’s imperative to realize the front line of your customer response team is of the utmost importance. Potential customers may never make it all the way to your business if they feel mistreated over the phone. Current customers may leave. It has nothing to do with your phone etiquette skills, and everything to do with how you are training the staff to engage with people, over the phone and in person.

Here are five tips to pass along to your customer support staff, please contact me if you have any questions or would like to talk further about how I can help. Proper phone etiquette can be the make or break decision in where a customer takes their business. Make sure it’s yours!

  1. Answer the phone promptly, starting with, “Hello, this is (name) with (business name), how can I help you?”
  2. Listen to the question, jot down a note or two. Ask for their name, if they haven’t given it yet. Write that down too.
  3. Answer the question, and offer any extra advice you know would be helpful.
    1. If you don’t know the answer, ask them to remain on hold while you figure it out.
    2. If the answer will take longer, ask for their number and give them a time frame for when you will call back.
  4. Ask if you can help with anything else.
  5. Thank the customer for their call, and wish them a good day. Wait for them to hang up.

For any questions or inquiries, contact me at Patricia@PatriciaRossi.com, or click here!

Why Do Manners Matter in a Digital Age?

With the rise of social media, text messaging, status updates, and life lived at 140 characters, do manners still matter? Of course! In fact, modern manners in a digital age are a wonderful way to connect with people in an honest, meaningful way. They also lend an undeniable professionalism to your communication with others, online and in-person. But we return again to the question originally posed, “Why does this matter?”

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Today’s professionals are expected to possess the skill and savvy needed to thrive in business environments that are both traditional and digital. Not only are you learning to adapt to new realities, e.g. multi-generational and multi-cultural workplaces, you are also navigating the 24/7 demands of world that is always online. Modern manners give you a helpful framework of thinking through how and when to initiate conversation and respond to feedback!

Additional skills which are proving more and more valuable now include: Knowing how to interact with others in a professional manner, whether at a networking event, Tweetup, Meetup, or cocktail party. Add in the standard expectation of how to effectively communicate via email, text message, direct message, plus social media, and you can quickly feel overwhelmed by the responsibility!

To succeed in today’s economy, you have to learn how to leverage proven business and social tactics, while actively augmenting our skill sets to include the requirements of an online world. When over 2 zettabytes (1 zetabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes) of information is created each year, the ability to quickly adapt and apply your skills will become of higher value to your personal and professional brand.

What can you do?

Modern manners create a distinct social advantage for those who leverage their power. When so much information is generated by memes, poor grammar, and heated opinions, people and brands who communicate with kindness and openness will stand out. The more the world comes online, the greater your social status will be if you connect through relationships and respect.

Start today.

photo via Library of Congress