People Like People Who are Responsive

Nov 08, 2004

It just doesn’t matter what type of business one talks about. Whether you are a housepainter, you sell window blinds, or you are in the architecture, engineering, or environmental consulting business— ALL of your clients, customers, and suppliers will like you more if you are responsive. And the more responsive you are— I call it “hyper-responsive”— the better. This notion of hyper-responsiveness is so simple, yet is all too often in our business pooh-poohed by those in our firm’s top ranks. Principals are the worst offenders. They are too busy. They don’t want to be too eager. They don’t use the technology that would make them more responsive. They simply don’t think it’s important. It’s really a shame. We at ZweigWhite are here to make our clients more successful. Business is hard enough as it is. But the sad reality of this hyper-responsiveness issue is this— a SOLID MAJORITY OF YOU WILL NOT DO THIS ONE THING THAT IS TOTALLY WITHIN YOUR CONTROL: BE RESPONSIVE! I have been in this industry for 25 years now. And I truly believe that, as competitive as our business is today, you could be a mediocre designer with middle-level people and middle-of-the-road prices, yet grow faster than any other firm in your market by being more responsive than your competitors. I am not talking about returning all phone calls the same day. How about within an hour or, better yet, 10 minutes? I am not talking about returning all e-mails the same day. How about within 10 minutes, or better yet, two minutes? I know this probably sounds crazy, and most of our readers will tell me I have lost my mind on this issue. But the impression of caring and good service is just too valuable to waste by being slow on your feet. Beyond that, it’s actually more fun to work in an environment where the clients are amazed on a daily basis with the service they are getting. Everyone gets energized and motivated by the positive feedback that streams in from letters, calls, and e-mails raving about the service. More work comes in, bad clients are weeded out, profits go up, cash flow improves, morale improves, and the feeling of job security of each employee improves just from returning calls, faxes, letters, and e-mails faster than anyone else. To make this happen, it has to be valued by the top management of the company. The individuals in the top jobs— the principals, the VPs, the CEO, CFO, COO, office managers, marketing director, HR director, IT director, the associates and senior associates— ALL of these people have to believe in the competitive advantage that hyper-responsiveness will give the firm. They have to demonstrate this daily in their own actions. Not everyone will see the benefit. Not everyone will do it even if they do. That’s a problem IF you really believe in the power that comes from being hyper-responsive. Participation in the hyper-responsiveness program is not limited. ANY firm can do this that wants to do it. You don’t need any more resources. You just need a change in attitude. It’s a simple strategy that can turn everything around. So how do you think your firm stacks up on the hyper-responsiveness scale? If you believe in the power you’d get from being hyper-responsive, what are you going to do— today— to make that happen? And if you don’t believe in what I am saying, just try it for a week and see what kind of reaction you get. It’ll make you a believer! Originally published 11/08/2004

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.