By Jim Mastin Sr
Someone said, “We are living in the information age”, and that’s true. But we are also living in an age of “instant communication”. Like it or not, people are beginning to more and more expect quick responses to their inquiries, questions, or needs.
I, as much as anyone, get weary with my computer popping up “New email”, or the aggravating chime of a text message coming through, or my phone or ipad beeping with a new email, and of course the “ding” of a new voice mail.
Our calendars pop up to remind us to get in touch with someone. Our smart phone has a timer to not let us forget to “get back to someone” about a question or project. Makes you tired just thinking about it.
But, the truth is, in many of our customer relationships, the first one to return a call or email will get the job. Notifications to us are almost instantaneous, and people sending those inquiries expect an instantaneous response. As I work on the details of a new company we’re starting, we are building into it a system where contractors will receive notice of a customer inquiry within seconds of their request. What happens next is crucial.
How many times have we searched Craigslist for an item only to find it was already sold? Someone grabbed it within minutes of being posted. That’s the world we live in today.
So, what do we do?
- Prioritize your responses. On my mail program on my main computer, I have folders set up that sort my incoming emails. I receive about 200 emails a day and can’t and don’t reply to all of them. In reality, almost half of them go directly to my “junk” folder. A couple of times a day I will scan through them to catch the rare legitimate email that got in there.
I watch close the “important” folders I have set up. I have folders with the names of important people I want to get back to immediately, those that are valuable to me and affect my business. I watch a folder that catches new prospects that visit my website and my blogs.
2. I have my phone catch the “important” emails and alert me when one comes through. I reply to them on the fly from the road, a restaurant, or wherever I might be. Lower priority emails and phone calls get returned that evening or the next free time I have.
3. Use the caller ID on your phone to help filter calls that can wait, from the others. If you receive a call from a prospect, by all means take it. You may only have one chance. In our company, our contractor team will receive an email from a potential customer. They need to be returned immediately. If they went so far as to say, “I want to talk to this contractor”; they are motivated and will find someone else if you don’t get right back to them.
I know how aggravating it can be to get an email or phone call when you are on a ladder working, or at a restaurant eating, or whatever else we are doing, but – in these days, a customer is a customer.
When I lived in south Florida many years ago, I did a lot of salt water fishing. Nothing beats the feel of a fish biting on your bait. And you know what? I can’t ever remember feeling that nibble and saying, “I’m busy; I’ll jerk on the line later”. Of course you don’t, you carefully set the hook as soon as possible, before the fish decides to look elsewhere for a treat.
Get the point? A potential customer should excite you the same way.
Is it a pain in the neck? Yep! Does it bother you? Yep! Is it aggravating? Yep! Does it produce customers? Yep!
OK, let’s finish. There a number of important things that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. Getting back to people in a timely fashion is one of them in this age we live in. So, hook that fish before it gets away!