I hear a common frustration all the time in every area of my life. The complaint is valid and needs to be addressed, especially from a professional business perspective. The irritation is the poor manner in which people fail to correspond, communicate or engage with each other.
It is crucial that each of us pay attention to the timely or untimely manner in which we respond to others. Also, we need to be aware of not just the timeliness but also the manner, tone and medium in which we choose to communicate. In my opinion, it is not only a best business practice but also simple common courtesy.
Working with an Amish client, we all might expect to hear that kind of frustration, after all, they do have limited access to computers, internet and mobile devices. The issue arises when the Amish are more prompt to respond to communication than those of us who are far more technologically ‘advanced.’ One of my Amish client’s largest frustrations is dealing with people outside the Amish community who do not return his phone calls, which is frequent and often.
The more people I talk to, the more I am realizing it is a very common frustration. When professionals simply choose to disengage and offer no response. I’d call it almost a form of professional snubbing. It basically gives the impression that you are too busy and your clients’ needs are not that important.
We can’t all claim the excuse ‘too busy’ because the calls coming in are the reason we should be ‘too busy.’ Or another frequent complaint is to speak to someone and use the infamous, “I’ll get back to you,”…and then, you don’t get back to them.
There are so many ways to communicate. You can even program an auto response. There are no good excuses to not, at a minimum, have a voice message that states, “I’m busy and will try to get back to you soon.” With texts, emails, phones, messages, voice mail, how are we not returning any type of communication?
Don’t just ignore a request. It is the number one complaint I read on reviews, “I never heard back from Business XYZ in regards to my complaint/question/concerns.” Also, it is imperative that you respond to complaints. This allows those involved the opportunity to see that an attempt to resolve a dispute was made. It is better than just ignoring the complaint and hoping it goes away. This is one of those times, when waiting a few days, until you can calmly and objectively respond, would beneficial.
Even when you have business clients or customers walk in, make sure your signage is informing them as to the necessary information from the minute they walk in. Allow your signs to guide customers so their experience isn’t awkward, especially first time customers. Sometimes something as simple as not having or not turning on your OPEN sign can cost your business. Communication is key, regardless of the medium. Make signs visible and containing only the most pertinent information.
You cannot ignore that something as simple as neglecting emails or calls will have a negative impact on your bottom line. Fancy marketing strategies, strong financial projections, or a product that tops your competitors in quality and price have zero value if you don’t call clients or customers back. They will NOT seek your service or product again. If you find that you are flooded with correspondence (congratulations you must be doing something right!), but if returning a prompt response is less and less of a priority, you may have to consider hiring a person to assist.
Most businesses are not open 24/7, boundaries need to be made so that you don’t always feel like customers’ needs are controlling your life. Having guidelines of how soon you will respond will help protect your business and your peace of mind. Make sure clients know the parameter, upfront. Tell them that it may be 48 hours before you can get back to them.
We are caught in the forward motion of a fast paced communication era. Having the technology but ignoring it and insulting and offending customers, clients or colleagues means it has zero value to us. We might as well throw our iPhones in the trash and go back to rotary phones with party lines and phone operators, if we do not utilize what we have to make our businesses and professional lives better.