World Class Customer Service is Genderless


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In response to the Telephone Etiquette post, we received this email question:

Ms. Miller: When answering the phone, how do you determine if the person is a male or female to know whether to call him/her “Sir or ma’am?” As a trainer, this question has been asked me on multiple occasions and is challenging to answer. Thank you for your advice.

Such a great question! And one we have been asked multiple times during training sessions. In the United States – and especially in southern States, it is considered impolite to not use sir or ma’am when talking to a customer. If you cannot immediately determine if the caller is male or female, what is the best practice?

We polled several of our trainers and all agreed that the risk of offending someone by not calling them sir/ma’am is probably not as great as calling them by the wrong gender.

World class customer service is genderless. In today’s global economy, when customers calls a support center, they can never be sure where they are calling. The American tradition of sir and ma’am is not the norm and cannot be expected.

If an agent is uncomfortable not knowing the gender of the caller we suggest asking, “How would you like to be addressed?” Then use that name or sir/ma’am, whatever the caller’s response may be, to address the caller throughout the remainder of the call.

Have you been asked this question? How did you respond?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rachel Miller
Rachel Miller is the Customer Engagement Manager at Nimble - a simple, affordable social relationship manager.


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