Is Anyone Out There?

Your place in the universeThere’s been a dramatic change in email and voicemail etiquette these days. It used to be that when you sent a note or left a message, people would get back you within a reasonable timeframe. By reasonable, we mean the same day. Or worst case, the next day.

Lately we’ve seen a disturbing trend in business communications where people respond days, or even weeks after you try to reach them. Earlier this year an individual sent us a note asking for possible assistance with a project. We responded immediately suggesting several blocks of time to hook up live by phone. We got a note back months later apologizing for the delay with the excuse that he had been “really busy”. Crazy – considering he was the one asking for help in the first place!

Is this the new normal? Admittedly, we’re all busy; but we need to make a renewed effort to at least acknowledge the message. Even a short response to say we are on the road, out of the country, or in client meetings – but will get back in more detail shortly.

We’ve all been guilty of not responding quickly to emails or returning calls promptly. Maybe we all need a few reminders now and again about common business etiquette:

  • If someone sends you a note or leaves you a message, respond as quickly as you’d like to have them respond to you. No one likes to be ignored.
  • If you are going to be out of the office, away or unreachable for a few days, turn on “Out of Office” so people know there might be a delay in getting back to them.
  • If you’re just not interested in their reason for contacting you – let them know.

At ClearEdge, we’ve decided it’s not the new normal. Here’s what we do to exercise our good business etiquette:

  1. We reserve 15 minutes at the start of every day to catch up. This is our time to respond to messages and email requests that we didn’t get to the day before.
  2. If we don’t hear back from someone, we try again. While we draw the line between stalking and follow-up – persistence does pay off.
  3. When all else fails – we pick up the phone. Multi-channel outreach is just as effective as multi-channel marketing.

Even if you aren’t a service-based business like ours, this is good practice. As for us, we know it’s essential to get back to prospects and clients in short order. If we don’t, someone else will!

Posted by Kim Owen    |    July 16, 2012