In-person interaction

Communications in person

Every interaction and service encounter is important to our University community. Greeting and responding to people while showing genuine interest in their inquiry or problem shows others that service excellence is a top priority for the University of Ottawa. Here are some standards for in-person interactions:

Initial greeting
  • Offer assistance promptly and pleasantly. Smile and establish eye contact. Project a friendly, enthusiastic and professional attitude.
  • When you don’t know the person requesting help, greet the individual in both official languages. Say: “Bonjour. How may I help you?”
  • After that, communicate with the individual in the official language in which they speak to you.
  • In French, use the formal “vous” to show respect, unless the individual invites you to use the familiar “tu.”
Establish rapport
  • Focus your attention on the conversation and avoid letting yourself be distracted by the phone or conversations around you.
  • Speak to the person as you would like to be spoken to yourself. Keep your voice cheerful and use a positive tone. 
  • Show that you are able to listen and respond (e.g. “Tell me more about your situation…”).
  • If you must speak to a colleague about the person’s request and the person is within hearing distance, use the official language chosen by that person.
Ensure confidentiality (when necessary)
  • Find out the person’s name and use it often during the conversation.
  • If you’re uncertain of the pronunciation, ask for clarification.
  • When helping students, ask for their student card and confirm their mailing address.
  • If their student card is not available, ask for their student number, as well as their name and date of birth, to verify through the University system. Explain that this verification is required for security purposes.
Confirm your understanding
  • Listen carefully to the question or concern without interrupting.
  • Repeat the question or concern back to the person in your own words, to be sure you understand it (e.g. “If I understand correctly, you’re asking if…”).
Be the solution
  • Respond to the question clearly and ensure the person understands the answer.
  • If you’re not sure of the correct answer, arrange to get back to the person with the necessary information, and make sure you follow up.
  • Ensure you refer the person to the right individual or department. When in doubt, call first to check before sending someone to another department.
  • Give your contact information (name and phone number) to individuals requesting assistance and tell them to get back to you if they don’t find an answer or solution.
  • Always try to find alternatives to ensure full satisfaction and resolution.
Close the conversation
  • Summarize the conversation and (when required) mention the next steps, along with a timeline and way(s) to get in touch.
  • Be sure you’ve answered all questions or concerns by asking if the person has any other questions.
  • Thank the person for coming by your office and wish him or her a good day.
Quick tips
  • Remember to smile.
  • Remind the person that you will do your best to answer the question or resolve the issue.
  • If there’s a long line of people waiting, make eye contact with people in the line to acknowledge that they’re waiting. Apologize for the wait time when it’s their turn to speak to you.
  • Serve everyone promptly, but don’t rush the conversation.
  • At the end of the encounter, ask “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
  • Remind them to “feel free to come back if you need further assistance.”

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