Respond, Please!

Inbound contacts are significant. If you don’t take the time to respond, people perceive that they are not important. Don’t forget that you are responsible for the implications you create.

Our most common client complaints stem from a lack of good contact etiquette.

More than fifteen years ago, a Long Island entrepreneur contacted me and asked if I could help her because “business is slowing down.” She was and is well known, respected and successful. Many years as a journalist taught me to ask questions and to be attentive to responses. In the early 2000s, email was starting to gain traction but the phone remained the most-used form of communication. When asked “How long do you wait to return a call to a customer or prospect?” She said, “A week or two. Three if I’m out of the country.” I remember being grateful that we were on a conference call since she could not see me instinctively rolling my eyes. After a pause (I was carefully considering my response), she said, “Christine, are you there?” I answered, “I’ll give you sage advice and bill you for an hour. If you can follow this instruction, your phone will ring again.” I could hear her the surprise in her voice when she said, “Instruction? It’s that easy?” I nodded and advised, “Pick up the phone when it rings and answer voice mails within 24 hours.”

I still see that entrepreneur once or twice a year. She invites me to dinner without fail as a thank you for the advice.

We tend to overlook the obvious. It’s hazardous when we are running too fast to keep up with ourselves. Slow down!

Nowadays, we can become overwhelmed with many more contact points and methods (phone, text, email, facebook, Linkedin, the list is long). Choose wisely what you can manage and respond to regularly. If you are on Facebook, post something at least a few times each week. Before establishing a Facebook page, be prepared to check it daily and reply to questions or comments.

A CEO recently told me, “I most often respond to voicemail since I only get a few per week. The rest is overwhelming. If I need an answer immediately, I text. If whoever it is can’t text me back by the end of the day, I won’t be doing business with them.”

Not every phone call merits a call back. Only you can prioritize your time. An email, response is fine. Put together a boilerplate email for the responses that you are not sure about or who are low on your totem pole.

Don’t discount the phone as a legitimate mode of communication. If you don’t text, consider making it your next big accomplishment in learning. Find time, each day, to sort through and respond to email.

If you would like a response, you need to respond. You will stand out to your prospects and customers, building and fostering loyalty and respect.

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