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July 26, 2022

The Lost Art Of Timely Response & Follow Up

Every company knows that timely response to communications is one of the keys to customer satisfaction. Companies often don’t realize that this behavior is important in any relationship, not just keeping customers happy. To develop and maintain both your relationships and bottom line, identify and rectify any situation where employee communications are subpar.

At Point Road Group, we help companies make better brand impressions with prospects, customers and potential talent. One of the ways we do this is by improving employee communications -- their messaging, delivery and overall habits.

Building a culture of timely response and follow-through enables business to thrive. Here’s a look at some common communications problems that companies have approached us with and our recommendations to turn them around.

There’s No Excuse For Taking Two Weeks To Reply

Prompt response is critical to building trust with everyone, not just customers and hot prospects. CEOs recognize this and often ask us to help their teams address it. “Sorry, I’ve been swamped,” is unacceptable; everyone is busy, so overly delayed responses are frustrating, disrespectful and rude. Worse, the negative impression they make can ruin the chance of a referral, recommendation or inquiry about your products or services.

Take the Head of Business Development at a media company who met someone at a networking event, developed great rapport and soon after asked for an introduction to someone at a major target client. The new contact made a thoughtful email introduction a few days later, but then the Head of BD took two weeks to respond to it! Besides creating an awful follow-up impression, it embarrassed the woman who brokered the introduction and the CEO of the media company, once he heard about it. Worse, this wasn’t an isolated incident! As a fast-growing and understaffed media company, lagging communications were becoming part of company culture – and this was bad for business.

The CEO reached out to us for help because he knew this had to change. We audited all aspects of how employees communicated (not just the business development team) – platforms, volume, response time, messaging etc. – to identify patterns and habits that needed to change. We then conducted training sessions on specific areas that needed improvement and had periodic check-in's to provide both accountability and support for employees when they faced challenges.

Unless It’s Halloween, Don’t Be A Ghost!

A real blemish on a brand is when someone disappears after they initiate communication. The CHRO of a manufacturing firm we worked with reached out when she discovered – accidentally – that ghosting had become common behavior when her team was communicating with potential talent. This is terrible for an employer brand. Why would someone be excited to work for a company that reaches out to candidates but then can’t be bothered to reply once they respond? It’s even more egregious when ghosting occurs after a candidate has gone through an interview.

We recommended instituting a candidate response policy and explained to employees why their replies are so important to brand impressions. We also promoted dialogue with the team to identify why ghosting was happening in the first place. It turned out that inefficiencies in the recruiting process were adding to their workload. While still not an excuse, by identifying problems and streamlining processes, we freed up time for these employees to focus on communicating better.

Always Close The Loop & Show Gratitude

It’s bad when people wait (or forget entirely) to acknowledge and thank someone for introducing them to a great new contact. It’s even worse when they fail to update the person who made the initial connection after the introduction results in new business. This isn’t a good strategy if you want more referrals, yet many companies have employees who do this.

Consider the Vice President and Creative Director at a design agency who received an introduction to the President of an HR consulting firm, a potential client. While he acknowledged the initial introduction, he never closed the loop to update the introducer that he landed the business. Instead, that person heard it from the HR consulting firm President – long after the fact too! This reflected poorly on the VP and effectively dried up chances of getting another lead from the person who made the introduction. This was bad for him and his company.

We advise teams on best practices for making and receiving introductions because we know how important referrals are for driving business. A timely and thoughtful “Thanks” has incredible power. In contrast, failing to acknowledge the person who thought about you and your business – and proactively contacted you to introduce new potential clients – can halt future opportunities from that source.

Communication – And All Its Parts – Is Key

Many people think they’re good communicators, but still have weaknesses in critical areas. While your team may write and present well, don’t overlook other important components including courtesy, gratitude and timely follow-through, which are not only critical to driving customer experience, but also new opportunities and recruitment.

Contact us to help you reduce risk and improve your team’s communications habits. Together, we can ensure your employees represent your brand optimally in everything they do.


Related Resources:

Before Clicking 'Send,' Share These Email Best Practices With Employees

"Just Wondering...” How To Improve Clarity & Confidence In Writing

How & Why To Send Thank You Notes (Besides Job Interviews)

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