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The Importance of Responding to Customer Concerns Quickly

I got a very complimentary email from a customer not too long ago thanking both myself and my team for getting back to them quickly. While this e-mail was very nice and I was really glad that our customer was happy, it did make me wonder: What kind of customer response times are other businesses providing that so many businesses and consumers today are left feeling grateful for anyone who gets back to them quickly? I'm assuming it's probably not good.

I believe in treating customers the way that I would like to be treated. If it's going to take some time, let them know — don't ignore them in the hope that maybe they'll go away. If we make a mistake, admit it and correct it; don't cover it up. Customers are smart. And even though some businesses think that mistakes and excuses will fly, well, they don't.

I recently read a research report that found that 20-25 percent of customers who wait minutes or hours for a response from a company won't purchase from that company again. That number goes way up—up to 45-55 percent—for customers who are forced to wait days or weeks. If for any reason a customer waits months (heaven forbid!) for a response, the company they're dealing with can say goodbye to 80% of them!

I hope we'll all respond to our customers at least as well as we respond to our friends, family, coworkers, etc. If you already think that you do, perform a quick check. If no one is any longer speaking to you, check your customer response time and focus on getting back to your customers more quickly.

Kevin Mellander, Director Customer Care, Allegiance