In an age where the phrase “there’s an app for that” has become a mantra, some may be shocked to learn that there’s still no technological substitute for a company’s oldest and most reliable business tool: decorum.

In his recent post on Contractor Excellence, Steve Coscia reminds field service technicians that one of their most valuable customer service lessons was probably free and likely came from their mothers. Words such as “May I,” “Please” and “Thank you,” go a long way toward building rapport with customers. It sounds easy, but why do these simple words make such a big difference?

“Because, too many service companies do not instill this behavior as a core principle among their employees,” Coscia writes.

Unlike customer service in other sectors, field service is unique because the technician is often going into someone’s home or place of business, and appearance and first impressions make a world of difference. Technicians’ interactions with customers are especially important as techs are typically the only point of post-sale customer interaction.

According to Coscia:

The infusion of politeness results in two key benefits. The first thing it does is to surprise and delight customers, since the service professional’s communication style is unexpected. The customer’s surprise is usually audible. This also helps establish a calm tone and demeanor during the call. The second benefit is the service professional’s Halo Effect, which results in greater customer flexibility. Both benefits simplify subsequent work.

So even though software and gadgets can go a long way toward serving your customers, don’t forget to back it up with common courtesy. It’s free.

Read more about customer engagement on The SmartVan

ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.