Whoever said silence is golden didn’t work in customer service

Not answering the phone is bad customer service

One of my neighbors was grousing the other night about how he contacted four contractors to repair his gutters and none returned his calls.

I feel his pain.

When searching for photographers, sign companies, printers and other vendors, it surprises me how many businesses aren’t responsive. It’s new work and potentially a long-term partnership (more work!), so you’d think they’d get back to me promptly.

Sadly, they often don’t.

Take the case of the sign companies who recently ghosted me. I contacted 10-12 of them, and two or three followed up immediately. The rest made me work for it. I had to babysit, cajole and ping them repeatedly.

The big problem? No communication.

Finding and vetting vendors is a multistep process. It involves getting samples, asking questions, getting estimates and asking follow-up questions.

When some of the sign companies got back to me, they redeemed themselves by finally becoming responsive. Until they stopped again.

While waiting and wheedling, here’s what I was thinking:

  • Can I trust you to come through for our clients?
  • Will I have to babysit you on every project?
  • What does your (lack of) customer service say about the quality of your work?
  • How often will I have to call/email/text you to get what I need?
  • I’m so anxious right now, I’m getting a migraine.

Micromanaging is not my jam. I’m sure the vendors were busy responding to similar requests, but new business is new business.

No matter your industry, what you sell or who you sell to, it’s never OK to disregard current and prospective customers. You might think their needs aren’t crucial, they’re not in a hurry, their requests are routine and everything is hunky-dory. For you, it’s business as usual.

That’s not how customers and prospects see it.

They want to hear from you early and often. They want to know you’re on track. They need assurance you’re going to meet their deadlines.

Silence makes them worry.

The fix is simple.

Communicate. Respond to requests and questions in a timely manner. If you’re slammed and can’t answer quickly, say so and provide a ballpark estimate of when you’ll follow up.

Wouldn’t you want to be treated that way?

How do you measure customer service experiences? Let us know in the comments below.

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