How we communicate with each other, regardless of our position as the vendor or customer, is a powerful part of what either builds up or tears down a professional relationship.
A client of mine, Julie, found this out the hard way when she took a one-week vacation. Before leaving, Julie set up out-of-office replies for her email and voice mail—telling people their messages were important and that she would get back to them when she returned.
When she came back to her office after her vacation, she was greeted by over two hundred e-mails and an office phone jam-packed with voice mail messages. Julie tried to return some of the e-mails and voice mails, but eventually she said, “the heck with it,” and deleted anything she didn’t think was important.
Julie told me, “I convinced myself that if they really wanted to get a hold of me they’d call back.”
Unfortunately for Julie’s career, some of those so-called unimportant calls were important and her reputation as a conscientious, respectful professional took a hit.
Most people understand that it may take a person a few days to return messages after an absence from the office. But not returning messages at all can burn bridges. Julie found out she had done just that when her boss and colleagues received disgruntled calls and emails from vendors and customers, putting her job in jeopardy.
It is easy to understand why returning customer calls can cause problems. It’s more difficult to understand why you shouldn’t ignore calls from vendors, because after all, they need you more than you need them, right? That may be the case, but what about when you do need them—to place an order or ask a question about an order in process. If you have built a strong relationship and have responded to them when they’ve called, emailed or approached you at a local event, they are more apt to respond quickly when you need them.
The moral? Return your calls, e-mails, and texts—even if it’s just to give a short “no thank you.” Not because you have to, but because it will help build relationships—and good relationships make for good business.
If you have any questions about The Village Business Institute and the services we provide to companies and organizations throughout the nation, contact me at 701-451-4900, 1-800-627-8220 or www.TheVBI.com.