By Eric Woodruff, CPA, CCIFP
Partner, Director of Audit & Assurance Services
Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti once said: “Speed is relative. You have to live it. You can’t just jump into it. You have to live it all the time.” The same goes for business owners, especially in today’s ever-changing and challenging business marketplace.
With social media, texting, Zoom and businesses like Amazon delivering products to your door the same day you order them, people expect things quickly. And although current labor shortages and supply chain disruptions may slow down your delivery systems with customers, you must remain vigilant in communicating with them in a timely manner.
Right now, business owners and managers need to ask themselves:
- Are we set up to be nimble and flexible in responding to our customers and stakeholders?
- How quickly do we respond to communication contacts?
- How fast can we adapt to new changes so we can beat our competition to the market?
- Is our website mobile-friendly? Is it easy to find information about our products and services?
- How can we make it easier to do business with our company?
- How can we stay abreast of market trends and upcoming developments?
- Can we meet the 24/7 demands of the e-commerce world?
As a rule of thumb, any inquiries from potential new customers should be responded to in the same business day. The staff member monitoring the phone extension or email address linked to your website’s “Contact Us” page should be your proactive point person. Even if a principal team member is not available, at least have a responder let them know when they can expect communication from them. Just a quick acknowledgement like this can give prospective customers the “personal touch” they need to feel that their concerns are important. They are a “person,” not just another number!
If you’ve ever participated in any customer feedback services, you probably know how important a quick response can be. A negative client experience can often be rectified with a timely attempt to make good on any failure to meet expectations. This kind of quick communication is especially important now, as it may be the best you can deliver in the face of a labor shortage, supply chain issue or any other challenges with which businesses have to deal. Customers can be patient, but lack of timely communication is a deal-killer.
Even worse than a slow response is none at all. If you’ve been asked to fill out a survey from, say, a car rental company and you gave negative ratings, you may have checked a box that asked if you would like to speak to a manager. Did that manager ever get back to you? If not, chances are you’re not using that car rental agency anymore. Today’s world of commerce demands immediate responsiveness.
It’s also wise to manage expectations for responsiveness, especially with existing customers. Have your voicemail message or out-of-office email function let people know that you will try to get back to them within 24 hours. If that’s not sufficient for their needs, provide an alternate contact within your business who can jump on the requested task right away.
Take inspiration from the Indy racing season and analyze whether your company is meeting the need for speed in this fast-paced business world. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your performance. Call your clients and vendors and see if they think your staff is sufficiently responsive. And don’t get discouraged by negative answers. Use them as a springboard for growth and development. It’s time to live life in the fast lane!
One final Mario quote: “If you think you have everything under control, you are not going fast enough!”
If we can assist you further with any process improvement, please contact Eric Woodruff at (317) 613-7850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.