I have been extremely frustrated lately with the lack of common courtesy of people returning telephone calls. What ever happened to “Say what you will do, and do what you say?” Over the last month I have met people who say they will write or call me back and don’t. This brought me to think about my work with banks and caused me to write about the subject. Always being responsive by returning calls, answering e-mails, keeping appointments are some of the top reasons customers and prospects begin to build trust with your organization.
About 15 years ago, I conducted my proprietary research Strategic Accuracy Testing® for a major law firm. The goal was to determine the priorities customers and prospects have when hiring and retaining legal advise. We measured size, reputation, expertise, location, notoriety, and 20 other features and benefits. Responsiveness was the number one reason someone would hire or continue to retain a law firm. This tells us that we value people who “get back to them” in a timely fashion. For bankers, like all professionals, this should be a priority. The next time your senior staff meets, it might be a good idea to discuss setting standards for returning calls and other communications with customers, prospects, and coworkers. I have done business with one bank that actually included communications criteria in their brand book. Not only do stakeholders have to return all calls within 24 hours, but they also have guidelines for making proper responses.
During my research for this writing, I came across a blog written by Michael Hyatt, President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He makes the following connection between responsiveness and responsibility (literally: one’s ability to respond): “Yesterday, I sent an email to someone who I don’t know, trying to interest him in my products and in exchanging ideas. He wrote back to me within a few hours, and his very brief response says a lot: Hi Itzy — I’m very interested in your products [...] but right now I’m swamped. I may not get around to getting back to you until this weekend. This fellow is probably busier than most of my overloaded correspondents, but his message says to me: Although I’m extremely busy, I am still in control of the situation. I have integrity and self-honesty — I don’t fool myself into making commitments I cannot keep; I still have time to be cordial and polite, even to people who can’t help me with my current workload.” Hyatt adds: “Was this just a nice way to blow me off? I don’t think so.”
Many think that vendors, and salespeople are just bugging them and that solicitors are not owed the courtesy of a response. When I call people and they call me back, I am amazed. What a shame! The opposite should be true. I’m sure you have all heard the saying, “ People hate to give bad news.” Maybe that’s why they just ignore the calls. In my opinion bad news is better than hoping, hanging on, and wasting my time by keeping me in limbo. So get the message out. Build trust and respect by making a point to call or e-mail everyone back even if it is to tell them you don’t want to talk to them. The people trying to get your attention will thank you.
I would like to share with you a bank ad on responsiveness to its customers: