The Right Way to Handle Client E-Mails/Phone Calls

Child waiting for the phone to ring - she said she'd call...I recently began searching for potential venues for my upcoming wedding, and found two possibilities that I really loved. I e-mailed both locations, and received an e-mail back from Venue #1 the very next day. Venue #2, on the other hand, took 2 weeks to e-mail me back. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I shrugged it off and replied to their e-mail with additional questions. A week and a half has gone by with no response. Now I’m irritated. As a potential customer, it frustrates me to not get a response, but as a business professional, it appalls me. If you can’t do something as simple as replying to an e-mail, especially to a customer who could potentially spend thousands of dollars at your place of business, how can you expect to succeed? At The BLU Group – Advertising & Marketing, our philosophy is that our clients are our number one priority. We don’t let an e-mail or phone call go unanswered for more than 2 hours. How do we do that you ask? Here are 5 steps you can take to handle your client’s calls/e-mails in a timely fashion:

  1. Use your out-of-office assistant: If you know you’re going to be out of the office for a day or longer, set up a message to send an auto-response to any incoming e-mails that you will receive in your absence. By doing so, you are letting your clients know that you aren’t available, but that their message was received and will be addressed when you return. This is also a chance for you to give contact information for someone that can help them if they need immediate assistance.
  2. Flag their e-mail: If you have a million things going on, and you get a message from a client that you can’t immediately address, use the e-mail tools that you have available. You can ‘flag’ an e-mail to get it added to your to-do list so you have a visual reminder that you need to respond to your client.
  3. Send a courtesy e-mail: If you know the e-mail from your client is going to take a long time to figure out or address, just send them a quick message to say you will be looking into the issue/question and will get back to them as soon as possible. Even though you aren’t answering their question or fixing their problem, you’re letting them know that they matter to you and that you are working to get it answered/resolved.
  4. Use your calendar: Your calendar is a handy tool for managing your to-do list, not only for the visual layout of your tasks, but for the ability to send yourself alerts when you have a task coming up. So if you know you need to e-mail your client back no later than 3pm, add the task to your calendar to alert you when the time is approaching.
  5. Establish a SOP for all e-mails/calls: Just like we do at BLU, set-up a standard operating procedure for responding to client e-mails and phone calls, so that none go unanswered. If you set rules for yourself, your brain will eventually be trained to handle all calls and e-mails the same way, every time.

However you choose to handle client e-mails and phone calls, don’t be like Venue #2. Just like a relationship, you should always put your client first, or they‘ll find someone else who will treat them better. Do you have additional tips for handling calls/e-mails? Share them in the comment section below.