Customers are less demanding than many of us think. Taking forever to respond to a query sounds like a surefire way to lose customers, right? It is. In one survey, nearly twice as many respondents said they would recommend a brand with quick but ineffective answers over one with slow but effective ones.

But going slow is also incredibly unproductive from the brand's perspective. So why do so many companies do it? Many leaders talk about putting customers first -- but then let emails and questions sit unanswered for hours or even days.

Sure, we are all busy. But with a bit of effort, you can be much more productive, make customers happy, and increase sales in the process. It just takes embracing one word: responsive.

I am the co-founder and CEO of Aha! -- one of the top 15 software companies on the 2018 Inc. 5000 List. We believe in responsiveness so much that we developed our framework for success around it. We call it The Responsive Method (TRM). It is the foundation of our team's exceptional velocity.

The core of TRM is simple. When people reach out to you, you should respond right away while the need is still fresh.

Our team at Aha! sets a goal of under two hours for an average first response time to customer queries. Reaching this not only makes us more efficient, but it also helps us to earn customer love. And research confirms that companies with faster first-response times have more satisfied customers -- customers who will stay loyal and give you good word of mouth.

TRM does not just apply to customers though. To be truly responsive, you have to prioritize interactions with everyone inside and outside the company. This is a great way to build respect and trust among colleagues. And yes, it makes everybody more efficient.

Here is what it takes to build responsiveness into your own interactions with others:

Know your goals
That could mean the goals for your organization, your product, or yourself. Understanding what you want to achieve gives you a true north to guide you. This goal-first approach serves as your path to making better and quicker decisions -- which then lets you provide faster and more high-quality responses.

Ask questions
Your next step is to get curious. Do not get bogged down in unnecessary details, but do ask a few targeted questions. You want to make sure you really understand what the other person you are dealing with is asking for, so you can evaluate how that request aligns with your goals.

Listen carefully
Be interrupt-driven. Most people tune out noise, thinking it will slow them down. Instead, listen carefully to pick out the valuable data -- this gives you faster insights and learning. Now you can make quicker and more informed responses.

Give a quick "yea" or "nay"
Quickly analyze the information and then give a prompt answer. Even if that answer is to say you have read the message but need time to review and will get back to them shortly. Then, the faster you can give a definitive yes or no, the sooner you can move on to creating more value.

Stay transparent
When giving your response, briefly explain the "why" behind it. Transparency not only earns you trust, but by putting your answer in context, you save the other person from having to ask for follow-up information. Your explanation might even spur a different approach -- resulting in a learning opportunity for you.

Be kind
This is something to keep in mind throughout all of your interactions. Being kind at work does not mean agreeing with people just to be nice. It means remaining humble, calm, and considerate even when saying "no."

Maybe you work at a company that does not make responsiveness a priority. They fail to do so at the risk of their bottom line. But the good news is that you do not have to ask for permission to be more responsive. So, start today.

How do you put responsiveness into practice?