Those who have been reading my articles or following me on the social networks are used to my frequent ramblings on this poor habit of organisations not responding timely to official correspondences.
We all witness today how internet has subtly crept into our modern professional lives yet, responding professionally to mails has met many people unprepared. As a result, many businesses lose big clients and grand projects due to ignorance of email etiquettes.
It still baffles me that in this day and age, some companies have still not realised how important their email communications are. From my personal experiences, I have to send hundred reminders to have a “sort” of response because sometimes, when the response finally comes, the impression it gives is that the sender didn’t read the original correspondence.
Responding to professional correspondences and emails, especially today is an obligation for people in duty. It is simply a business etiquette everyone should have. From top CEOs to government officials, down to the smallest person in the chain of communication, everyone needs to understand that responding to mails doesn’t have to be done because the recipient is a friend or because he/she has been “disturbing” with reminders.
Rwanda is known for its level of ICT and I can bet that there is a free internet connection in all ministries and government institutions and almost on most people’s phones. Why then is it so difficult to acknowledge receipt of mails?
No matter the organisation you work for and no matter how brilliant you are in your area of expertise, specific skills on communication and public relations is a must and a business etiquette for all.
In a normal business relationship, emails should be acknowledged within 24 hours; and this should be the same even in Rwanda and other parts of Africa. If you are so busy and unable to answer thoroughly to the mail, a simple “Thank-you for your email; please give us within X number of time to get back to you with an appropriate answer for you”, is a courteous way of dealing with people professionally.
Again from a personal experience, I can count on my fingers the number of official responses to my letters I have received from ministries, government agencies and even from private companies. Giving out their names here will probably require a whole new article so I’ll keep that for the next time I write solely with names of organisations that beat the record and you will be surprised to see that even some of the prestigious organisations have perfected that art.
I am told when I do not receive a response; it simply implies that the response is negative. But why can’t it be written? Why should a long silence or in this matter, a lack of consideration to the sender, equals to” No”? There is nothing wrong with giving a negative response but when it takes forever to write it shows the disregard you have for whoever took time to write to your organisation.
I know as Africans, we are used to the oral tradition and find it extremely difficult to write. But for God’s sake, gone are those days. In today’s technological advanced world, we need to be responsible enough to write responses and get used to the new tools of communication at our disposal. Business is serious and responding to mails and other professional correspondences must also be taken seriously.
And for those who receive multitude of mails in a day, you have no excuse either. Instead of wasting your valuable time constantly checking emails, try to spare a moment in a day to respond. Either early before you start your day, before or after lunch, and in the evening when the office is quieter. If not; you will find yourself swamped with tonnes of other messages the next day. Note that reading your mails on your blackberry is not sufficient. Make time to respond to them. And one last thing; not responding to your mails is not a sign that you are busy but rather disorganised and unprofessional.
The author is the Publisher of The ServiceMag