A big small business problem area: emails and voicemails

How long do I have to wait for you to get back with me?

At a recent business presentation about local print advertising in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, the point was again made that the small business community (which includes most Canadian sign and screen printers) is really bad about answering emails and voicemails promptly. In fact, it’s such a commonly-acknowledged and widespread problem that the participants just burst out laughing.

But it’s not a laughing matter and it’s not just a rural Nova Scotia issue; it’s a problem all across the country.

Here’s what we need to realize . . . Customers are impatient. If they’re looking for a product or service and email or call about it, they want an answer right away. If you don’t make a point of responding to inquiries promptly (within minutes if possible, but certainly within a couple of hours) your competition is likely to get the business. This means that the money and time you spent on advertising to get the potential customer to contact you, would have been wasted.

So, the takeaway? If you or an employee are not on the phone or computer responding to inquiries as they occur, commit to check regularly (every hour on the hour?) for email and voicemail inquiries and answer them, even it’s only to reassure the potential customer that you’ll be back with details shortly.