Do you find that people take a long time to respond to your emails or telephone messages?  Or the most devastating situation, is when they completely forget to call or email you back?  Now I can understand that sometimes, emails or messages get lost in cyberspace or they find their way to your spam or junk folder every now and then.  This happens to the best of us.  That said, what do you do if it’s someone you work with regularly, a supplier, a vendor or how many of you have a client who just does not respond to you?  What do you do?

Here are a few thoughts and ideas to help you deal with this challenge.  Let’s take for instance, a supplier you have always used, has recently changed management and you notice that they are not a responsive as they used to be. 

Step 1: You call or email them with an order for a customer and do not receive a response or confirmation of the order.  A good practice is to wait two business days, then follow up with them by telephone.  We all know that emails sometimes make their way into your recipient’s junk mail or spam folder.  By calling them, you can hopefully connect with someone who can check on your order to ensure it’s been received.  Be sure to provide them with a phone number and an email address where you can be reached, and request a timeline of when you can expect delivery. 

Step 2: Follow up with another phone call one day after that.  At this point, when it has gone 3 business days, a response is definitely expected.  As an aside, whether you have an answer for your client or not, a best practice is to update your customer. We believe in the respond within 24 hours (or sooner), even if it’s just to acknowledge your customer’s inquiry.  At the very least, they feel attended to and that someone is on it!

Step 3: If after 5 days, you still do not have an answer, it is very important to contact your customer again and let them know the steps you are taking to fulfill their order and make sure you complete their order.  Being honest and truthful, even when you don’t have good news, is always best.  Next, contact your supplier, let them know that you must proceed with another supplier.  Proceed with another supplier and take care of your customer immediately!

What’s great about this 3-Step approach is that you are being fair, but you are also setting the tone and expectations about how you wish to do business.  Responsiveness is absolutely key with your customers and your vendors, suppliers and others.  People are definitely watching to see how you operate, what you deem acceptable in business, as this is likely how you conduct yourself as well.  These steps and holding others accountable is crucial in building strong, trusting relationships with others, particularly in the business world.  People want to get things done, take care of their customers and most importantly, they want to do a good job and that reflects in their response times and service standards, governed by their organization. 

If you do not have a process in place, you may want to consider one and what that looks like for your business.  As a business professional, you may not have time to respond right away, so the best way to help yourself and keep your customers happy, is to set up and auto-responders for all of your points of contact.  This will save you a ton of time and you’re more likely to retain that customer.