Have you ever had a moment when you text, email, or call someone and it seems to take them forever to get back to you? Why weren’t they able to get back to you right away? Didn’t they know it was important? Was the constant follow up not hint enough?
The problem is that there are sales reps that don’t do a very good job of responding when a customer reaches out to them. They don’t understand that replying in a timely fashion is extremely important.
I’ve messed up in this area before and I know other sales reps who have too. It happens. But understanding the importance or urgency of each communication will help you to make those mistakes less often.
Finding the time to follow up quickly enough is usually not a problem when you are having a slow month. This can happen if you haven’t been doing enough prospecting. You have all the time in the world to follow up.
These tips are not for those times.
The information below is for the times when you are crazy busy and actually have to work to manage your time efficiently. Properly allocating your time resources can mean the difference between a happy customer and a pissed off one.
Important vs Urgent
The first thing you need to do is decide, using Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix, is if the client is reaching out to you because it is important or is it urgent.
Doing this one thing will help you be more efficient in how you respond and more effective in doing it.
Emails are going to be the biggest time suck out of any client communication. I wake up to dozens of emails every day. And sometimes hundreds. But to get through the pile I quickly read each one to see what the topic is about and whether I need to put that in the urgent file.
If it’s something you put off until today then do that one thing FIRST. Don’t get your self in a cycle where you don’t finish things.
My rule, if you can’t get through an email in 1-2 minutes, email them saying you’re looking into it and you’ll get back to them by the end of day, week, etc.
If its a simple question that I need to dig a little deeper into then I’ll do a quick response back telling them I’m working on it and as soon as I have an answer they’ll be the first to know. I manage their expectations.
In general though my rule of thumb is to respond to emails within 24 hours.
I recognize that prospects and clients will be asking you questions you may not have the answer too. But you should at least respond letting them know you’re looking into it, or what you’re doing to find the answer will go a long way towards managing their expectations.
After emails, phone calls will be the most likely communication tool used by those trying to get in touch with you.
Also phone calls tend to be more urgent than any of the other options. But remember, just because they think it’s urgent doesn’t mean it actually is.
If you aren’t able to take a call right away, do you best to call them back as soon as possible. If they leave a message, listen to it as soon as possible and make the judgement as to whether it’s urgent or important or both.
Urgent – End of day
Important – 24 hours
Both – Immediately
I personally don’t get a lot of texts from customers or prospects. If I am meeting one for lunch I’ll use text.
“Hi Chris, traffic is rough, I’ll be 5-10 minutes late”
” Hey Julie, quick note, Mike is going to be joining us. Sorry for the last minute notice”
“I think I’m lost, left or right on Wilshire?”
These are the types of questions that come through Twitter and can be responded to very quickly, and should be.
If I get a text from a client I try to respond right away. Texts are meant to be short bursts and quick communication. Usually a text are meant to convey something that is urgent or very time relevant.
Social media is another way clients may reach out to you. Especially if you’ve established yourself as an expert.
Just today I had a past partner who left his old spot and wanted to talk to me about using our software for his new company.
I treat social media just like emails. Give a response within 24 hours.
His email, a soon as I could because I respect him and look forward to working with him again.
The thing is to manage expectations. Sometimes you simply don’t have an answer, it’s OK to tell them that. But let them know what you have done to get the answer and when you expect to find out.
To summarize the above,
Emails: Respond within 24 hours
Phone Calls: Respond by End of Day
Texts: respond Immediately
Social Media: Respond within 24 hours
Good luck and let me know your thoughts. Should you have set rules for your follow up or do you work off the seat of your pants?
~ Johnny Bravo
Image courtesy of Chaiwat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net