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Being quick doesn’t set you apart from your competitors

Five reasons why responding very quickly to every client communication is a mistake

What sets you apart from your competitors in the market?

I was speaking to a client about this recently and he told me that he really prides himself on being quick to respond to an inbound inquiry.

It’s one of his key service commitments.

I challenged him on that because it was in the context of a conversation about time management.

I asked him, “Is that really how you want to be judged? How quickly you respond to people?”

Responsiveness does matter in terms of quickly handling inquiries about a ‘for lease’ or ‘for sale’ sign – particularly on a conjunctional listing. Leads are the hottest when they come in.

But remember, anyone can reply to an email very promptly or answer a phone quickly.

If you want to be a Top Performer, I don’t recommend making how high you can metaphorically jump (or how quickly you can answer a phone) what really sets you apart from your competitors in the market.

Here are five reasons why your service levels should not be about how quickly you respond:

  1. Rather than being about how quickly you respond, what sets you apart should be the outcomes that you deliver for your clients. It should be something that you can do better than nobody else in the market. 
  2. Don't set yourself up to fail by setting a standard that you can't always meet. There are times when you can't answer the phone or reply to emails because you're doing something else.
  3. When it is all about speed, you are training your clients to have unreasonable expectations of you. They’re likely to get frustrated if you take longer than a few minutes to get back to them.
  4. If you respond to every inquiry within a certain timeframe, you're not really prioritizing what's important. Not every task is created equal, and your priorities should be set by you, not by whoever contacts you.
  5. It's not always the best time to respond. If an important client called you at a bad time, you’re far better off waiting until you are in a better frame of mind before you call them back.  


The best way that we can deliver on minimum service standards is to set a maximum amount of time to respond.

For some of us, that's going to be by the end of the day, or perhaps it's within 24 hours, or four business hours, or whatever is appropriate in your market.

And of course, sometimes you will be able to respond right away because it’s convenient – and that’s ok (I’m certainly not saying to deliberately wait a set amount of time).

In fact, if you do see a call or an email regarding a time-sensitive matter, like when you're at a critical point in a deal and you do need to respond quickly, then, by all means, respond – or have a mechanism by which you can acknowledge the correspondence and have a time by when you will respond.

The lesson to remember is this: pride yourself on the results and the outcomes that you help your clients achieve – not how quickly you respond every time they contact you.

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