Staff Relations

Service & Etiquette, 1920s

The following "Hints for HBC Salespeople" dates from 1920. This is a customer satisfaction message that could have been written last week. Good ideas stand the test of time and are still true today.

Service Efficiency
Hints for Salespeople

Customers first! The customer should have primary consideration in the store. All else should come next. If the salesperson is talking to someone who is not a customer and a customer comes along, stop your conversation and jump up to the customer, find out the customer's wants and do not leave until the customer's wants have been attended to.


Service with a smile - from Rhymes for Retailers, a customer service manual, n.d.

"Service with a smile" from Rhymes for Retailers, a customer service manual, n.d.

Get to know the customers' names. It's simply surprising how pleasing to most people it is to have others know them and call them by name. The salesperson places himself in a position of power at the very start by this means. The customer likes it, and usually returns to the salesman who knows him personally. It pays all salespeople to learn the names of all the customers who frequent their department.


Telephone Courtesy
All stores require to pay special attention to telephone calls. In no other part of the stores' activities does courtesy pay so well, and in no other activity is the lack of it so easily noticed. One of the worst offences is that ordinary custom of answering a telephone call by saying "Hello." This is want of knowledge of modern methods. When the bell rings, the one who picks up the receiver should immediately mention the name of the store and department. The person at the other end has a chance to begin the message in an easy way. Every one who answers the telephone calls should be schooled in telephone courtesy.

Loitering and Visiting
This practice in the store should be discouraged. Salespeople should explain this to their friends so that it may be definitely known that the store is the place where the customer really comes first.

Excerpts from The Beaver, HBC's employee newsletter, October, 1920.