“Do you really know how frustrating it can be dealing with people who aren’t responsive? It makes me feel ignored and so irritated that I want to find some other company to work with—one that respects me and treats me like a real human being!”
Most of us can relate to this person’s frustrations. How many times have well-intentioned business people let you down because they simply didn’t get back to you promptly—or even at all?
Being responsive is one of the major factors in enhancing your reputation so you can operate a successful business. It shows that people can depend on you and that you’ll conduct business in a timely manner. If it’s a trait that attracts people to do business with you, it’s certainly a practice worth repeating in order to keep them on board.
When you think about the people you like to work with, you probably gravitate to those who quickly respond to emails, take initiative, are self-starters and offer workable solutions to problems. Responsiveness demonstrates that you are a good time manager and that you respect the people with whom you work. And, the resulting perceptions of you and your business reputation become positive.
Here are five tips to help you become and remain more responsive:
- Learn to act promptly. Establish how much response time is acceptable for emails, phone calls and other requests from customers, your supervisor, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. Then, stick to your plan.
- Set up an organized system for responses. Locate a system for organizing and tracking your responses—whether it’s customer relationship management software or some type of internal tracking system like a spreadsheet. Even a notepad or journal can work!
- Demonstrate that you care about outcomes. Keep people informed about your progress, concerns and results on work that you share. And, show folks that you care about the success of the overall project.
- Keep your voice mailbox and inbox clean. Keep your mailboxes clean by making decisions about each messages you receive. Answer simple requests right away and file others away in various folders for later, systematic response.
- Manage expectations. Promise only what and when you can actually deliver. Broken promises lead to disappointments, lack of trust and anger. Anticipate deadlines and notify people if you know you are running behind. People can be more forgiving if you’ve anticipated their needs and then communicated with them.
Our folks at Excalibur know well how responsiveness can impact business relationships. We caution our customers to make the most of connections made at trade shows by quickly responding to requests for demonstrations or more product information. Everyone is busy at trade shows and requests can often be overlooked. So, smart companies develop or use some type of tracking system to ensure contact information is captured and responded to within just a few business days.
We practice what we preach at Excalibur. Instead of having an automated phone answering system, we insist on employing a receptionist to direct all incoming calls. This helps eliminate frustrated callers who might not ever reach a real person. What’s more, we require all of our personnel to respond to inquiries within 24 hours.
Additionally, I am copied on all web-directed inquiries. This way I can follow up with my colleagues to ensure inquiries went to the correct person. And, I want be certain we’re truly responding quickly to customer and prospect questions and concerns. While business moves at a rapid pace, it’s never an excuse for reacting slowly—or worse—not responding at all. After all, it’s your reputation that’s at stake.