Years ago while sitting at a business expo, the speaker assured each business owner that they could realistically expect to meet 2 of the 3 expectations from every customer. In general, customers all want a fast turnaround time, lowest prices, and a top-quality product. If you offer cheap prices and fast turnaround, then the quality just might not be the best of the best. If you offer a top-quality product and a low price, then the turnaround might not be as fast as expected. The point was that as small business owners you cannot continually do it all, something has to give.
When I owned my embroidery digitizing business I decided that I would offer the best product possible with the fastest turnaround possible. The result was that I charged a higher price. Those that didn’t care about quality eventually got tired of paying more and sent their business overseas, or to a cheaper competitor with a slow turnaround time. But this was the choice I made. It was my business and I chose to be selective in the orders I received. You cannot be all things to all people.
On rare occasions I had a customer that needed a price break. I would give it to them, but usually at the expense of turnaround time. However, the one thing that I refused to give into was customer service. I always tried to offer excellent customer service! Business is people. People are your business. When you fail to understand that, you fail as an entrepreneur.
This brings us to an interesting point. A big concern in customer service is responding to your customers when they reached out. If I failed to return a call or email, I lost a customer. So my question is: What is the proper response when someone reaches out to you? Is it ever okay to not return a call, email, or text?
My thoughts are that everyone deserves a response. When I get questions and comments on my website or email, I do my best to respond every time and in a timely manner. Even if the response is “I can’t help you” or “I will get back with you later.” Those who take the time to reach out deserve the courtesy of a response. After all, I am making my contact information public. I am trying to build a platform. I do want people to respond, right?
(The same applies to text messages, but on a different level. I only receive text messages from family and friends, but a simple response of “ok” or “thanks” takes just 2 seconds and lets the sending party know that I received the message. It’s just polite in my eyes.)
When I reach out to someone and they fail to respond it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It comes across as uncaring and unprofessional, especially in the business world. Technology is meant to serve us, not enslave us. Therefore, if you are overwhelmed with emails and calls to the point of not being able to respond to those who are reaching out, it’s time to hire an assistant. Otherwise, they will stop calling on you. So, whether you are trying to build a company, offer a service, sell a product, or build a platform, in this world business is people. People are your business.