Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Responsive Are You?

Many years ago, I received a bid request for a very small project, valued at only couple of hundred dollars.  Given my service orientation and nature to be responsive, I quickly called the requester for additional information and then followed-up with an estimate, in my usual very timely manner.

As it's something I have experienced with numerous organizations over the years, what started out with a small project, many more projects then followed, and became bigger over time.  Turning back to the client I refer to, not only did I keep him, as he moved around to other organizations, he took me with him, leading to additional clients over the years, as well as many referrals.

One day I asked Reggi what lead him to choose me on that original bid request.  His response: "You were the only one who responded."  Imagine, if I had ignored his request, I would have missed out on a beautiful friendship that we developed over the years, lost ten's of thousands in very profitable revenue, as well as numerous referrals. 

I am reminded of this because earlier this week, in my search for a ghost writer, I sent emails to 3 firms in New York City requesting additional information on their services, and a request for a phone conversation. 

Nearly 3 days later, 2 have yet to respond, and the one who did, did so in a very timely manner, responding with a very thoughtful reply and detailed information with what I requested. Since then we have exchanged several emails, all before we have even talked, and each of his responses have been timely, thorough and warm. From what I can tell from his communications, his firm is very successful.  Perhaps it's because one of his traits is simply that he follows-up on requests, whereas others don't?  

So, how responsive are you to the various requests you receive?  If you're not, what could you be missing out on?  And if you were, what more would be possible for you and your business? 


Joelsef said...

I agree. Responsiveness is often overlooked.

You're talking specifically about business to client responsiveness. There's also responsiveness to colleagues, friends, family. What are you missing or messing up because you don't respond in a timely manner?

Some people say they can't respond to every email they receive because they just receive too many. That may be true. At the very least, there is a subset of correspondence that must be followed through. Find a way to track it and make it happen.

Vinay Kumar said...

Well said Joe, very well said. When we respond, it's one way of saying I see you, I hear you, and I acknowledge you. Ultimately what we're conveying then is that you matter and that I care about you and what you have to say.


Joelsef said...

Sometimes all you need is a quick note: "I got your request. I will respond in due time." Just a confirmation, maybe with a personal touch.

Actually, auto-responders make me mad. I understand their purpose--to show that the actual message was received--but just as often as not, an actual response is never received. So either make sure your process is air-tight or just don't bother responding at all. :-)

Vinay Kumar said...

I am so with you on this. There are many times I don't need the full answer, or even any of it. Just let me know you heard me and let me know when you'll follow back and that's totally cool. I just hate it when something goes in the black hole and I don't hear anything.

Btw, what do you do Joel? You seem very service minded yourself. It's very cool. Tell me more about what you do and where you are. Thanks.

Joelsef said...

Hi Vinay,

I'm in consulting. I am a technical consultant for a large consulting firm, focusing primarily on engineering and and planning SharePoint portal deployments.

It's been a very customer facing job, as I'm often working on client site with the customer and other end-users of the systems we support.

I am also very interested in customer service as a customer myself. I used to value cost over everything else, but in my old age I have come to appreciate the art of service more and more. It's not just about cost, it's also about the experience. Sometimes the experience is worth a little extra cost.

We shouldn't whittle down life into a series of ultra-efficient interactions. We are human. We need to be treated as such.


Vinay Kumar said...

Very nice. I feel very similarly. Most of my career has been in customer facing roles and I absolutely love it too.

What I have also realized is that when we give good service, it comes back to us many folds, materially as well as the joy it brings.