Fundamental of the Week #6: BE A FANATIC ABOUT RESPONSE TIME. People expect us to respond to their questions and concerns quickly, whether it’s in person, on the phone or by e-mail. This includes simply acknowledging that we got the question and we’re “on it,” as well as keeping those involved continuously updated on the status of outstanding issues. Rapid response keeps us standing out from the crowd.
Before we formalized the 26 Fundamentals that represented “The Bernhardt Way,” our website stated that “We will meet our deadlines and return calls within 24 hours.” This brief sentence and Fundamental #6 is a way of saying that “you are important to us.”
Of course, that brief statement on the website failed in that it did not address the follow-up actions that were required. Yes, it is important to me that we return calls and requests in a timely manner. But just as important is the follow-up that may be necessary. Have we assessed what needs to be done, have we determined what the expectations of the client are, and have we obtained agreement on the date to provided the client the information requested?
Basically, there are three things that must be done to meet the objective of Fundamental #6:
- First, we must get back quickly. It should be within 24 hours but if it can be done within five minutes or the next hour, that is even better. Just be a fanatic in getting back to them.
- Second, acknowledge you got their request. If you can give them the information they requested or answer their question immediately, do so. However, if you know it will take some time to conduct the research, acknowledge their request and obtain agreement on when you will get back to the client once you have determined the client’s expectations and what is reasonable. If the client’s expectations are not reasonable, it is up to you to educate and inform the client on why a different date is more appropriate.
- And finally, keep the client in the loop. It is completely appropriate to let them know of your status and perhaps even send some things you are finding that may be of interest to the client. However, get back to them when you promised to do so, if not earlier.
Being a fanatic about response time is an opportunity to let our clients know you are trustworthy and reliable and that the client is important to us.