One of the issues I get contacted about most is the lack of email responses. Either ignored entirely or delayed. My last post on this topic generated many questions about why replying “so fast” is essential.
I’ve covered the topic ad nauseam, from lack of replies to unprofessional replies to how best to reply to emotionally charged emails. I’ve covered it all. So today, I’ll share some of my experiences on why prompt responses matter to provide a window into how a lack of quick emails responses can negatively impact a business relationship.
Lack of Respect & Trust
While I may have mentioned respect here or there, one thing I’ve never really honed in on aggressively is how your absence of a reply reflects a lack of respect as well as trust. And your inability to encourage an efficient and productive business relationship.
I’m not talking about responding to spam. Of course, there is no obligation to reply to unsolicited requests. What I am referring to are the business communications necessary to conduct business.
The business that is established or agreed upon between you and your business partners relies on trust. Therefore, you need to trust that everyone will communicate in a timely and efficient manner so both sides can benefit.
When you want to form prosperous business relationships, trust and respect are vital factors. Let me provide examples of what I’ve seen lately.
1. The I’m So Busy Excuse
In my consulting practice, I get this pitch all the time. “I’ve been so busy.” “I had to take care of…” “My schedule is so crazy…” But, of course, I am also a very busy person and understand how business responsibilities can hog up your time and get the best of you. But it is the professional (and successful) business person that learns time management and sets their priorities.
Are you too busy to dedicate time to the development of your website and online presence? It’s not like neglecting your online program can make or break you. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)
When I email for answers to questions, to do the job you hired me to do, and I don’t get them — you make me inefficient. I hate being made ineffective because being efficient is crucial to how I run my business. So when I have to email 3, 4, or 5 times and get nothing but excuses, I can’t help but wonder about your business dealings’ credibility (trust factor).
2. Can We Schedule a (meeting, chat, videocon, telephone call)?
I always say “sure”! They can visit my online scheduling app on my website and grab a time slot. As a courtesy, I also send that link in an email. Then crickets.
They don’t schedule a time. So then, an email reply to the same email with that link that lands in my inbox, “is today good to hook up”? No, you never signed up for a time. It is pretty standard for me to be booked a week in advance. So that tells me you never even visited the link I sent and didn’t respect my time.
3. The Miss One Deadline After Another Project
My business practices are spelled out in my Modus Operandi that each new partner receives before doing business. In addition, I note time-frames, deadlines, due dates, and what will happen with each.
I have this approach so that clients can trust me with their hard-earned dollars by offering an upfront level of clarity and detail that is pretty uncommon. And then I back it up. So I expect no less from those who hire me.
In every single pre-agreement conversation, when asked, “How quickly can we get this done?” I provide the same answer. “30 days or sooner — it is entirely up to you.” These details are also noted in my MO and what to expect if we pass that 30-day milestone. I also comment that if it takes longer, you have not provided the data/info/collateral/graphics I need.
- Reminder emails are sent noting what I still am waiting for to accomplish the job at hand. No response or see #1 above.
- Update emails are provided noting the pending time-frames. No response or see #1 above.
- Follow-up emails noting deadlines and what to expect keep clients in the loop. No response or see #1 above.
When the same excuses are offered over and over and over — and behavior never changes, those excuses become mute (and a tad insulting).
4. The Don’t Remit Fees Due as Agreed Predicament
I hate having to chase folks down for payment for services already rendered. I’ve done my job; now it’s time to be compensated. I send emails with Past Due, or Follow-Up, or Courtesy Reminder. No response — no payment forthcoming.
No email update is provided so that I know what is going on. How hard is it to take a moment and let me know what the situation is?
I’m extremely clear and upfront about this too. When you hire a professional to do work for you, the very least you can do is respond to their emails and remit any payments due immediately. Excuse #1 is not an excuse.
5. The “Can you advise again [insert already provided information]?”
I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve had to provide the same request more than a handful of times. Where are my previous emails? Being the organized person that I am, I do have those copies to resend. But do true professionals expect other professionals to accommodate their inability to manage their communications? No.
When you enter into professional agreements, you do not get to dictate what you are willing to do — or not. But, unfortunately, that approach reflects your inability to build mutually respectful relationships. Especially if you want to nurture that business relationship, this attitude can cause your partners to de-couple from you and move on.
Respect, Reliability and Efficiency are Primary Keys to Success
I’ve been consulting netrepreneurs and small businesses about online success for 26 years now. There is a correlation between efficient, reliable, and respectful partners who respond to their email inquiries promptly and professionally. That correlation is success.
So it’s not simply that you’re busy, or overwhelmed, or, or, or… If you want partners you need to count on, you must reflect that you can be trusted and respect their time.
When I form what I believe will be mutually respectful business relationships and run into the issues above, besides frustrating, it’s sad. Sad because I know that they are unprepared for success and that I am unfortunately unable to take part in helping them to get there.