The prime directive drummed into me as a freshman AE (Applications Engineer) was to ALWAYS get back to the customer in a timely fashion.
Even if I did not have the answer…
Even if I was already working on the problem…
Even if I was not the person who could help him…
It’s practically no effort to return an email or a voice mail and just let your customer know what’s going on, so he’s not sitting in the dark. A matter of fact, I’ll write the email for you and you can just fill in the blanks:
Hi <customer name here>,
I got your email regarding <problem, issue, question>. I’m going to <look at it tomorrow, send this on to R&D, ask my boss to handle it, etc>. I expect to have an update for you <in an hour, tomorrow, next week, etc.>. If you need an update sooner, please feel free to contact me directly.
<your name here>
I’m sure I’ll get little argument that this is the right way to treat real customers. But, what about our internal customers?
In my job, I’m amazed at how long some people will “Delay the Game” without responding to an email, without a simple 1-minute acknowledgment that they would get back to me. Instead, I’m often left wondering what is going on, sometimes sending follow-up emails, voice mails, dropping by the office…all just to find out what is going on.
Look. I know you’re busy and you have more important people and issues to deal with than my little request. But, just realize that everybody that sends you an email asking for something (a question, a file, a meeting notice) is your customer. If you keep them in the dark by not responding, and you do this enough, you’ve lost your customer.
harry the ASIC guy