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 a bunch of questions about why replying “so fast” is important.
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.
Business that is established or agreed upon between you and your business partners. 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 key factors.
Let me provide examples of what I’ve been dealing with 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…” 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.
You are 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 inefficient because being efficient is crucial to how I run my business. When I have to email 3, 4 or 5 times and get nothing but excuses, I can’t help but wonder about the credibility (trust factor) of your business dealings.
2. Can We Schedule a (meeting, chat, videocon, telephone call)?
I always say “sure”! I offer a couple dates and times to provide the inquirer options. Then crickets. Time goes by; no email response.
The day of one the dates an email lands in my inbox, “are will still a go for today”? No, that slot is now filled by someone else because I did not hear back from you. The vicious cycle starts over. Can I trust that you’ll respect my time and even show up on schedule if we do set a date?
3. The Miss One Deadline After Another Project
My business practices are clearly spelled out in detail in my Modus Operandi that each new partner receives before we do any business. I clearly note time-frames, deadlines, due dates and what will happen with each.
This is so 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. 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.” This is also noted in my MO as well as what to expect if we pass that 30 day milestone. I also comment that if it takes longer it is because you have not provided the data/info/collateral/graphics I need.
- I send reminder emails noting what I still am waiting for to accomplish the job at hand. No response or see #1 above.
- I send update emails noting the pending time-frames. No response or see #1 above.
- I send follow-up emails noting deadlines and what to expect. 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 really 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.
I’m extremely clear and up front about this too. When you hire a professional to do work for you and they do it as agreed to, the very least you can do is respond to their emails and remit the payment 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? Where does the assumption come from that I am to accommodate the other sides inability to organize their communications?
When you enter into professional agreements, you do not get to dictate what you are willing to do — or not. 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 24 years now. There is a correlation between those who are efficient, reliable and who reflect respect for their partners by responding to their email inquiries in a prompt and professional manner. 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 that you respect their time.
For me, 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.