Pointing fingers

08Nov07

Once in a while, I get a phone call from a customer or partner company asking why I haven’t replied to their requests. They go on to explain how they’ve sent two or three messages about the same issue, and they ask why I’m ignoring them. So I check my sent messages or the CRM system and tell them the date and time of each response. I offer to re-send the info again, which usually makes it to their inbox without any problem. But even after I suggest that perhaps their email system was having problems on the dates of my original replies, they still treat this like a failure on my end.

Granted, there are lots of ways that emails and other correspondence can get stuck before they reach the recipient. That sort of thing is way beyond the scope of this article. Rather, I’d like to point out that customers and others who submit a request have a responsibility to tell the other party when they haven’t heard back in a reasonable timeframe. Not weeks or even months later (which I’ve seen a number of times), but right after the usual turnaround time has elapsed. Do you normally hear back from a vendor’s tech support in 1-2 days? Then giving them a call or shooting them another email after 3-4 days is probably a good idea. If you let it stew for too long, everyone just gets frustrated.

Along the same lines, we all need to realize that if we haven’t gotten a response from an organization that is typically quite prompt, then the issue might be on our side of things. Step back and ask yourself if you’ve noticed that other people’s response times are much slower than normal, or you’re not hearing back from people at all. Did the issue begin around a certain date? Take this info and report it to your IT person or service provider. And even more importantly, follow through to make sure it’s corrected for good. Otherwise, you might continue placing blame on entirely the wrong set of people.



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