What’s An Appropriate Response Time?

As many of you may know, I’m getting married in a month. In doing so, I’ve had a chance to to play the role that by working in a PR firm I’m not usually – the client. When dealing with wedding vendors (caterer, baker, DJ, photographer, videographer, etc. the list really is endless), I’m the client. It’s their job to please me and meet my needs.

Now that I’ve gotten through the planning, booking, entering deposit phase, there’s one thing that continues to surprise me – the length of time it takes a vendor to respond to me.

When a client emails me a request, question, etc. I make it a priority to respond within 24 hours, if not 24 hours. Even if I can’t fulfill their request within 24 hours, I’ve been ingrained to at least touch base and confirm that I’ve received their email. I believe this is true client:vendor best practices. I have hardly seen the case to be true with my wedding vendors and at times its 2, 3, or even 4 weeks (after I follow up) until I hear back from an email.

The purpose of this post is not to be a bridezilla and complain – it’s to ask, what IS an appropriate email response time?

Some questions to consider:

  • Does it change by industry? I understand that florists and bakers are probably not sitting at computers 9-5. But still, they do serve clients, who email them, and should be checking their email on at least a semi-regular basis.
  • Are other forms of communication better? Should I be calling my vendors with questions as opposed to using email? I’ve been told that “my generation hates using the phone.” While this may be true some of the time, I’m very comfortable making phone calls (in fact, my fiancé gives me the phone to order food, etc. because he hates the task). When it comes to wedding issues, however, many of which concern money and many different details, I like to have answers in writing for future reference, which is why I prefer email.
  • Is it really just a generational thing? Yes, we Gen-Y-ers grew up with IM, texting, email, and other various forms of instant communication, so we’re accustomed to getting immediate responses. Still, many of my non-Gen-Y-ers (talk about hyphenation!) did not grow up with these things, yet they still respond to email in a timely fashion.

So what do you think? What is the appropriate email response time? Does it change by industry/age/etc.?

 

 

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3 thoughts on “What’s An Appropriate Response Time?

  1. While your question seems simple and straightforward, I don’t think the answer is. There was an article in the New Yorker some years ago – I wish I could find it – that concluded some bizarrely high amount of email never reaches its destination. It just vaporizes somewhere. That wouldn’t be such a problem if all mail that doesn’t arrive somehow bounces back to you. But it doesn’t. Mysteries like that plus spam filters and firewalls equals a form of communication that is far from bulletproof. I say that if you send something of high importance by email, and you get no response within the day, always follow up with the dreaded phone for your own peace of mind. Who knows if the person got the email, is a regular user of the computer, has a working computer, got run over by a bus, entered a convent, or dropped dead altogether? You can’t know that. That’s why God made phones. 🙂

  2. oh i’ve SO been there!

    i know exactly what you’re talking about. i wonder if by being in our industry and our clients expecting to be responded to in a timely manner we also expect the same to be done to us.

    but sadly that isn’t always the case.

    i think it differs in industry and by age.

    • There has to be a tie in response time and industry (sounds like a science fair project!) — PR people must respond to emails faster than other industries. I wonder if there are certain industries like PR where a 24 hour turnaround time is normal, and other industries like the food industry where there’s no such thing.

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