How Long Should It Take You to Respond to an Inquiry?
Try to respond to inquiries by the next morning. If that's challenging for your business, customer relationship software could give you the necessary productivity boost.
It always amazes me how long some customers have to wait before a small business responds to an inquiry.
I don't mean solicitations and advertisements, which a small business can safely ignore.
I refer to honest customer inquiries, as in, "Hi, I would like to buy your product or hire you for a job, but I have a few questions." Often it takes days before your request is acknowledged, sometimes weeks. If you didn't follow up, you might not even receive a reply.
I know everybody is busy and there is not enough staff to handle all the work. It seems that over the past few months, I have heard most reasons why a reply can take a week or more. Do I agree with all of these reasons? Not necessarily. I think long response times can also indicate less efficient, manual processes.
"Work smarter, not harder" is not only clever-sounding business advice. Instead, the adage should inspire a business to think about more efficient ways to handle their workload.
Customer relationship software is one of those tools that can help increase a business’s efficiency significantly so that they can do more with less.
If you want to learn more about customer relationship software, here are four of my articles:
Customer relationship software — such as HoneyBook, Dubsado, and many others — allows you to respond to any inquiry with any device, wherever you are. You don't need to sit in front of your computer to access the software and your data. Your smartphone suffices, as long as you have internet. It offers the same functionality and access to the same data as you are used to from your desktop or laptop. There is no need to drive back to the office to create and send an invoice, answer a billing question, or check the contract. You can do all that on the go from your smartphone.
Having all the information for a project or about a customer in one place and being able to access that information while you wait for a supplier or customer, are on your lunch break, or sit in an airport lounge can save you a lot of unproductive time. Time that you can instead use to work productively with your customers.
That brings me back to my original question: How long should it take you to respond to an inquiry?
Try to Answer All Inquiries by the Next Morning
While not all inquiries are of the same difficulty, try to respond to a customer by the next morning, even if you do not have all the answers. If you need more time, let your customer know when you will get back to them. That way, your customer understands your timing and won't constantly send you reminders.
Don't Forget to Check Your Social Media Accounts
Between email and instant messaging, small business entrepreneurs sometimes forget that they can also receive business inquiries through their social media accounts.
Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest to market your products and services, be sure to check them daily in case a potential customer has tried to contact you. For easier and faster access, you can also install their app on your smartphone and turn on notifications. So you don't miss any important message.
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