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.?



Some Thoughts About Email

Yesterday, I mentioned to a colleague that gmail had rolled out some new themes, and I was pretty excited that when it was sunny outside, my gmail showed a sunny landscape. If I chose the beach landscape, at night the sun would go down on my gmail. Pretty snazzy.

She was taken aback. “Gmail?” she asked. “Should I get that? I already use road runner and I’ve used it for years. I pay for my road runner service! Besides, don’t you get a lot of spam on free email accounts?”

Generational differences, I’m sure. I can’t imagine paying for an email address. And I hardly get any spam, thanks to Gmail’s great spam blocker. But in the early days of Hotmail and Yahoo, this wasn’t the case.

Today, I read that my alma mater, Boston College, is stopping issuing students BC email addresses (such as JaneDoe@bc.edu) because so many of the entering freshmen already have their own email accounts.BC Email

I know this is true – I started using Gmail while I was at BC and eventually started forwarding all my emails to my @bc.edu. I’m a big fan of Gmail. It’s really easy to check anywhere and you have unlimited storage so if you want, you can save every single email you ever received. My BC email account “expired” shortly after graduation and I lost any saved emails from that account. I can still receive emails sent to my @bc.edu address, I forwarded them to my Gmail. This means that technically I can still send emails from my @bc.edu email name, but via Gmail.

I see why BC is doing it. It prevents the hassle of students “forgetting” to read their BC email and missing an important assignment or schedule update. It saves BC money. But does everyone REALLY have an additional email address these days? What about professors – will they be given @bc.edu email addresses so students recognize the name? And what about the separation of our personal lives and our work/school lives? I started using my gmail account for all personal matters, but the lines are slowly blurring together. I’m curious to see how it works.

By the way, it’s cold and snowy in Cleveland today. I opened my gmail, and it shows a snowy landscape too. How cool is that?