Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don’t Burn Those Bridges – Not Even By Accident

How many of you can remember, early on in your life, or certainly in your career, where someone cautioned you by telling you; “be careful not to burn your bridges.”
And I’ll go you one further, which is to say, and that I have written about before, is that I believe that at least in our business, “it’s all about relationships.”
And yet, how many of you recognize this situation?
You need something, from a client, a supplier, a peer, someone in your company, it doesn’t really matter who. What matters is that you need a response, you need some information, and you need it from them.
You have emailed, now more than once, and you have had no response. You have called, now also more than once, but in both cases you did not reach the person, so you left them a voice mail, and still you have had no response.
Days have passed, maybe even a week or more, and you still have had no response, nor any indication that they are away, and in fact you may know very well that they are not away.
So what conclusion are we to draw from this scenario?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I draw several possible conclusions or opinions in from this situation.
1) They think that their time is more important than mine, or, their challenges are of a higher priority than mine, in spite of the fact that they may not even fully know what I need/want from them.
2) This is how they run their business, or their division, etc., as may be the case. And this is a particularly dangerous one as it can cost you business. I can tell you, in some instances, it has cost them my business.
Regardless, it does not paint a positive picture, it does not demonstrate a value for our relationship, and it certainly does not demonstrate that you value my business.
Bottom line, whether you intended it or not, that bridge of ours has just gone up in flames, so don’t be surprised when a business relationship sours after you have treated someone this way. They may be standing at the other side of that burnt bridge, and they may not be willing to join you in the re-building process.
Make timely communication a priority for yourself, then lead by example, and set minimum standards in your company for communication responses. Mine, have always been 24 hours. EVERY phone call, email, letter gets a response within 24 hours of being received, without exception.  
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1 comment:

  1. I totally agree, responding to emails and phone calls is a priority! Oops, I better call someone right now. . .