Let's say you open a retail store. You choose to ignore the majority of people that walk into your store and ask a question. You rarely answer the phone. When employees ask you for direction on a task, you ignore them completely or delay your response for several days.
How long do you think you would stay in business?
Not very long.
A lack of responsiveness is the most common underlying problem I find at the businesses I work with that are experiencing issues achieving growth.
I am not suggesting you and your team respond to every spam e-mail, unsolicited phone call or direct mail item you receive. If you know the person, and the inquiry is reasonable, you should respond. Responsiveness is especially important amongst those within your company.
Responsiveness Defines Your Personal Brand
It is my goal to respond to all e-mail I receive by the end of everyday--even if the response is a simple "I need to get back to you". I use my assistant to help me stay on track with this task. She keeps up with the e-mail that comes into my box and follows up with a list of individuals that I may have missed. It's important to me--and the personal brand I have established--to be responsive.
A good practice is to simply scan through the e-mail you have received in the last 24 hours before you shut down for the day to make sure you didn't miss something.
Make it Easy to Respond
I have a decent social media following. I spend some time each day following new people based on areas of mutual interest or because they have shared some of my content. Once or twice a day, an individual will send me a direct message, but because they haven't followed me back, I can't respond to them.
Make sure the channels you use to reach out are open in a way that allows easy response. Asking someone to call you back and dropping them into a full voicemail box is frustrating and unproductive.
View Responsiveness as an Indicator
I determine the companies that I choose to work with based on the responsiveness of the owners. Their interactions with me during the initial review and evaluation period speaks volumes to how successful I will be with making changes to their company.
I know that if the owners are not responsive, they are not truly interested in making a change. I also know that their lack of responsiveness will be pervasive through the organization--employees follow what leadership does.
Your sales team should pay attention to responsiveness during the sales process. When and how others respond speaks volumes to how healthy the long-term relationship will be when you sign them as a customer.
Costs You Money
As the leader of an organization, your lack of responsiveness costs you real money. It is your job to move projects and initiatives along. When you delay a response, you leave valuable resources idled without direction on how to move forward.
A good leader's role is to remove obstacles, not become one.
Costs Others Money
If you still haven't responded to that vendor who provided a bid for your new marketing technology last month, you are costing them money. They are continuing to follow-up with you, they are reporting information about your company each week in their sales funnel and they may be planning resources around your potential project. Do the right thing and let them off the hook if you don't plan to move forward.
We get more messages than ever before, but don't let the overwhelming number of non-essential messages get in the way of healthy responsiveness.