CUSTOMER CARE: The etiquette of returning calls and responding to mail

Have you been waiting for a response to a letter you sent three months ago to an administration, ministry or to private company? Is your request for an appointment yet to receive any feedback after waiting for 2 months?

Have you been waiting for a response to a letter you sent three months ago to an administration, ministry or to private company? Is your request for an appointment yet to receive any feedback after waiting for 2 months?

Your columnist has experienced all the above and has had enough of it and can’t accept it anymore. I find this practice intolerably rude. I have tried to convince myself that people do not respond to correspondences because they are busy.

But the fact of the matter is that even if we are all busy, responding to correspondences is part of business ethics. No matter how busy one is, responding to official letters, mails, calls, and text messages is part of our duties as business people.

Many of you reading this article are probably part of the cause of my mood today. There are actually so many business people who have gotten used not to responding to correspondences. I do not want to give names here because you know yourselves.

Just like you, your business correspondents are busy people with professional obligations. Most times they just need a simple acknowledgement from you. Responding to their correspondences shows your good and professional manners.

Simply said; it is unbelievably rude not to respond in a week; month and even 6 months to an official correspondence.

The lack of responding to correspondence does not mean that you are busy; but rather it shows that you are disorganized, unmannered and overwhelmed.

In professional relationships; it is a good etiquette to respond quickly to a letter or email. Even if you are very busy and will not be able to properly address the request, a simple response to acknowledge receipt and assure the sender that you will shortly respond properly is courteous and an example of professionalism.

I acknowledge that we are all busy with meetings, deadlines and important issues that need our urgent attention. I also recognize that sometimes we receive too many requests.

But still, business people need to understand that it is a common courtesy to respond to correspondences. It is a minimum ethical standard we should set for ourselves to respond in a timely fashion manner; whether an email, a telephone message, a text message or a letter....

A friend here told me that when after several follow ups; there is still no response, then it means the response to whatever the request was is negative. But then, why this can’t be written? Why running around the bush?

Why can’t people be responsible enough to write a response?

It’s a fact that the written word is often so much more powerful than the spoken word. If your corresponded sent a letter; just have the courtesy to reply back in a written format.

If it is a message by mail or text message; just answer no matter the response. In normal business etiquette, you should answer a letter within no more than 5 working days.
If your goal is to attract business or build working professional relationships, not returning messages or hibernating behind closed doors won’t win you many takers.

Set aside a specific time of the day to return calls and address correspondence so as to keep them from snowballing. Most often, after lunch or towards the end of the day is the best time to respond.

Doing so can enhance your reputation, exhibit your professionalism and possibly pave the way for good reputation, new contracts, orders and deals.

sandra.idossou@sheiconsulting.com

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