September 10, 2019 by Lynn Faughey
At FlexPro, we have three core values: PRODUCTIVE, PROFESSIONAL, and FLEXIBLE. Wrapped up in all three of those is great client service. It’s the foundation we’ve built our business on. I like to think of it from a customer’s perspective, which is something we can all relate to because we are all a “customer” somewhere every day.
Whether it’s grabbing a coffee at Wawa in the morning or take-out on the way home at night; getting service on your car or even at your doctor or dentists office, we spend as much time as customers hoping for prompt and reliable service as we do as professionals providing it. And I know there isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t experienced poor customer service at some point.
For me, I recognize it can sometimes simply be an honest mistake. Maybe the pizza I ordered has sausage instead of pepperoni. It’s not likely to make me stop ordering from my favorite pizza place. However, if each time I order a pizza I don’t get what I ordered and the manager doesn’t seem to care, well, a previously loyal customer is going to find a new place to go.
I often say to my team, “My expectation is that we respond in twenty-four business hours or less unless you are on vacation or otherwise busy, and as such your “out of office message” should indicate this. Ideally, response time in single-digit hours is preferred!”
When working with clients, we want to make sure they feel valued and important, and responding quickly is just one small way to do that. Rose, our CEO says, “Responsiveness wins deals. It’s an EASY way for us to differentiate ourselves from our competition because so many companies out there do not have great service.”
Here’s a perfect example from a friend who told me about a situation where his home air conditioning system broke down during one of the recent heatwaves we’ve had. Unfortunately, it was old, and the whole system needed replacing. Knowing it would be an expensive job, he called various local companies for quotes. Most were extremely responsive and came to offer quotes quickly.
He was surprised that there was at least one company who never called him back at all. The company he decided to go with told him they would not be able to schedule his replacement until the middle of September! They were not responsive or flexible to his reasonable request for a better time frame.
So, there he was, ready to hand over thousands of dollars and yet not able to get service in a timely fashion. He took his business elsewhere, and a week later he was enjoying his new AC during yet another heatwave. Poor client service lost that other company his business and possibly additional business in his potential referrals.
I always say that if we take too long to respond, people will feel like we are too busy and can’t be bothered. If that’s how we make them feel, they will go elsewhere. It’s important to take advantage of that initial moment when people are excited to work with you. I call it “lightning-fast response time.” With clients and customers, it’s just good business to respond quickly.
As a PM, I believe it’s just as important to be responsive with your internal team. It’s also good for solid relationship building. When you ask a colleague for something or share some news, doesn’t it make you feel good (or important) when they respond right away? We are all human, and feeling important is a basic need.
By taking your time in responding to a teammate, maybe because what they deem as urgent isn’t a priority to you, you are also now setting the example that they will follow the next time you need something. As a PM and leader, it’s important to model the way for the whole team. Be quick to respond and quick to acknowledge, and you will find it will come back to you in quick return!
The FlexPro Group is a project management consulting firm, specializing in the Life Sciences industry since 2008. FlexPro combines industry-certified experts with proven project management processes and subject matter expertise to deliver results on-time and on-budget. Our focus areas include Product Development & Commercialization, Supply Chain Optimization, Integration Management, and Early-Stage Acceleration. Contact FlexPro today to learn more!