Have you ever done business with someone who would not respond to you? Whether you were trying to communicate by email, text, or phone, you just could not get that person to answer you and, if you ever did get to talk to him or her, you marked it on your calendar as a red letter day because it happened so rarely. If you were in a business relationship like this, how long did you continue giving your business to that person? How many times did you recommend that person to your friends? How many friends did you advise NOT to do business with that person?
Now let's turn that around. If YOU are that businessman or businesswoman who does not respond, how do you think others feel about you right now? Do you suppose that they are recommending you? Or is it more likely that they are telling their friends to avoid doing business with you? Could it be possible that they are saying things like, "Don't bother trying to contact him because he'll never get back with you"?
People view a lack of communication in a variety of ways, and they're all bad. Some may feel that if you don't respond it's because you have something to hide. They won't do business with you because they perceive that you can't be trusted. Others may feel that if you don't respond it's because you are disorganized. They won't do business with you because their perception is that you will not be able to handle their needs. Still others may feel that if you don't respond it's because you are unreliable. They won't do business with you because they imagine not being able to find you when they need you.
Few things can harm your business reputation like poor communication; and yet, quality communication is so simple. It begins with nothing more than a timely acknowledgement of the communication. Basically, when a customer, a potential customer, or any other legitimate contact tries to get in touch with you, let them know that you have received their message. This is not only common courtesy, it is expected. In spite of today's technology, or maybe because of it, people are never really certain that their messages have gotten through unless they get a response. They want you to let them know that you have heard from them. Even an auto-responder with a brief thank you and, "I will be in touch with you soon," or a text with the same message would suffice. Calling the person and saying, "I got your call and will get back with you later today with some information" would do wonders. If you do NOT acknowledge their communication, how many times do you think they are going to try getting through to you before they just give up and take their business elsewhere? To answer that question, ask it of yourself. How many times would YOU try to get in touch with a non-responsive business before you yourself would give up and move on to someone else?
Every legitimate communication is worthy of your response. Obviously, there is much more to effective communication than a prompt response, but it's a starting point. You may think that this is all just good, old common sense that every businessperson knows and is practicing, but you would be mistaken. If you are looking for a way to stand out from your competitors and build a positive reputation in your field, be responsive.