Business 101 for any business, including land surveying, includes many basic building blocks for success. One such area is our timing for potential customer call back. In this premium post I'll share with you why your customer callback timing is so important, current customer call back timing trends, and how to improve your customer call back timing performance.
Why Customer Call Back Timing is Important
First thing to be said: in this article I'll be mostly discussing returning your customer's telephone calls in a timely manner, but these concepts transfer to all other forms of business communications, including email.
let's look at a very common business situation of receiving a voicemail from a potential customer. When will you call her back? That's one question. An other, perhaps more important question to answer, is when is the right time to call back? And finally, why knowing the answers to these questions is important for business success.
Customer call back timing is important because it builds trust and shows respect. While it would seem to go without saying, you must return your customer's phone calls and respond to their emails! While it should go without saying, I see too many land surveyors failing in this regard. In fact, I'd estimate that somewhere in excess of 80% of my new customers hire me after calling several other land surveyors in the area with me being the only one to call them back, or call them back in time.
So, if you are respecting your customers and respond to their inquiries, how soon should you call back? Or, put another way - how late should/shouldn't you call back? Certainly, the answer to this question varies per person and per situation, but I strongly suggest that you return phone calls and respond to emails no later than by the next business day. However, a quicker response is sometimes needed, and I'll talk a bit about that in the next section about current customer call back timing trends.
The key takeaway is that you return your calls and respond to your emails. If not, you are disrespecting your customers, scuttled any chance of building trust and are losing valuable business opportunities.
Current Customer Call Back Timing Trends
What I'm seeing in current customer call back timing is the trend of responding faster and sooner. It's a fast pace world and customer's expect, more and more, immediate (or nearly so) response times. With the immediacy of cell phones, smart phones and mobile computing, your customers expect you to quickly return their calls.
Most customers will understand and be happy if you return their call by the end of the day or first thing the next business day. Some customers, however, will not be satisfied with that "lag-time" and expect from you a more immediate response. Unfortunately, I think that this will be more of the case as time goes by.
I think there's an even greater expectation of an immediate response when email is used to contact you. I've found that this is even more true if you sell your services online. Customers who make online purchases may still feel uneasy with the person-less interaction, which can easily be remedied with a phone call or email from you soon after their purchase.
Automated email replies do serve a purpose and when well written and used appropriately they improve your overall communication strategy. But, remember to add the human touch with "real" emails from you or your team.
How To Improve Your Customer Call Back Timing Performance
So, the first tip for improving your customer call back timing performance is to have a communications plan in place. In your communications plan outline who, how and when you must call back with follow-up communications. Most of the time returning a call or responding to an email by the next business day is fine, but make it clear in your communications plan when a quicker response is necessary.
Second, delegate call backs and communication tasks to your team when possible if you're unable to do so. This assumes that you have a team, of course. If you're a solopreneur, which is my situation, you need excellent tools and time management skills. In either case, you need systems and procedures in place to manage your business communication. This is as simple as keeping a ledger of calls received (with diligent follow-up) to creating call back tasks in your project management software.
The main thing, though, is to do the work! Do not let something as simple as the timely return of a telephone call lose you work and potential income. If you need help developing systems and procedures for your business, or to create a company communications plan, please feel free to contact me.