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Be Nice: Fayetteville Focuses On Manners

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FAYETTEVILLE — The South is known for its hospitality, but we still have a lot of work to do. Customer service is often called the number-one problem with American companies. Fayetteville is trying to change that.

The Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau, along withFayetteville Technical Community Collegewants to make sure those experiences are few and far between when people visit the city.

Cargina Taylor says she had a grumpy waitress on a recent trip out to lunch.

"We had to make her smile when she should have come to us with a smile." she says.

That is unacceptable, says Lisbeth Leddin, a customer service instructor and motivational speaker.

"It's a little gesture. 'May I help the next person in line, please?' versus [a grumpy] 'May I help the next person in line?'" she says.

In preparation for theN.C. League of Municipalities Conferencein Fayetteville next month, Leddin is trying to get members of the service industry ready for company.

"They should look at the customer, greet them, take a moment to understand their needs and most importantly, make them feel important," she says.

They should not chew gum, dress sloppily, argue with a customer or be concerned about being right.

It may sound like common sense, but Leddin says most service employees are 18 to 25 years old, having grown up in a generation where many people have not learned proper manners.

Nadja Troublefield knows about the need to smile, even when a customer is not satisfied.

"You have to stay focused most of the time. People don't mean to be mean to you at the front desk, you just say 'OK, I'm sorry.'"

A real testimony for the need for good service: 65 percent of most business is from repeat customers.

The free hospitality training classes will continue through the first week in October.

Politeness is making a comeback. Growing numbers of Americans say that parents need to teach their children good behavior.

According toAmerican Demographics, 59 percent of adults agree that "good manners and politeness" are the most important qualities for parents to instill in children.