Uncommon Courtesy: How Simple Acts Can Make Your Company Soar

I recently purchased some shoes through Amazon from a non-Amazon vendor. Unfortunately, the shoes were too big, so I called the company in the evening to ask for information on their exchange policy. The phone just rang and rang and rang. No answer. So I then emailed the company.

The next day I received an email reply from the sales department with no greeting, no closing, just a rather tersely worded paragraph on their stringent return and exchange policy. I said to myself, this is a company who doesn’t care about my business.

What a difference it would have been if instead they had written, “Dear Arden, thank you for purchasing shoes from us. We’re sorry they don’t fit. We will happily accept your return. Please send them back with the order form in the original box…We appreciate your business.”

Sometimes we are so focused on just getting the job done we forget the little everyday courtesies – things like saying “hello”, “please” and “thank you” – that can really make our businesses soar.

I attended a presentation on story-telling by speech coach Jean Hamilton, and coincidentally she shared a story about Zappos, a shoe and clothing online retailer known for their wonderful customer service. The story really hit home the impact of small courtesies.

She shared that a Zappos employee was called by a customer to ask for help returning some shoes she had ordered for her husband. The customer shared that sadly, shortly after receiving the shoes, her husband had died in a car accident.

The employee decided on her own accord to send the woman flowers, expressing sympathy for her husband’s death. Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, was very proud of the employee for taking the initiative to do something so thoughtful and was happy she didn’t check first to see if it was OK.

I bet the customer will be a lifelong Zappos patron. It was just a simple gesture, but it meant a lot to her.

Another business made a big impact on me simply by sending me a personalized email thanking me for subscribing to their eNewsletter. The email also invited me to share ideas for topics I’d like them to include in future newsletters. I was so impressed.

It doesn’t take much to make your business stand out. Or to stand out as a memorable person. What are some things you can do?



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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. susie07 on June 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

    The email also invited me to share ideas for topics I’d like them to include in future newsletters. I was so impressed.

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