Quickly responding to a customer inquiry is the best way to start a long-lasting customer-contractor relationship. But why is that? And what happens when you don't? Here are just a few possibilities:
A customer inquiry is the very first moment of most of your customer-contractor relationships. The customer has submitted their inquiry for the work they need done in order to receive estimates. While this may seem obvious, countless contractors still make the mistake of underestimating this moment’s importance. In particular, the most important thing to remember about this first step is to respond to the inquiry right away. Why? Well, for a few reasons:
The Importance of a Quick Response
The importance of rapidly responding to inquiries can’t be understated. The contractor who arrives with the first quote doesn’t always get the job, but more often than not they’re the one who does. Why is that? Mostly, it comes down to the customer’s sense that their work is important.
Like any other life situation, customers want to feel as though you’ve been responsive to their needs and that you consider their job (regardless of what it is) to be of the utmost importance. Rapidly responding to a customer’s contract opportunity goes a long way to ensuring that they feel this way, and as we’ve stated often translates to receiving the contract.
Responding quickly also has a really obvious benefit - it allows you to get to customers before the competition can. This advance notice of opportunity can lead to an expanded customer base, since you’re able to cherry pick the jobs you want by being the early bird. This expanded customer base has the fringe benefit of allowing you to gain word-of-mouth referrals in social circles otherwise inaccessible to you without the expanded client base.
Word of mouth referrals are the most valuable form of advertising, since the information has been passed onto the potential customer through a trusted source. Showing continued responsiveness can be tremendously helpful as well, since it can only result in a further enhancement of your company’s reputation.
As an added bonus, rapidly replying to customer referrals can result in a better relationship with your inquiry provider. Contractors who show a rapid response and a reputation for great service can sometimes parlay that into specific inquiries being sent directly to them or another fringe benefit between them and the provider.
Perception is Reality (Sort Of)
Unlike most client-customer relationships, the contractor-customer relationship is often dependent on both results and perception. If you do a fantastic job on the project but the customer perceives you to be disinterested or that the job is not your priority, it’s unlikely the customer will relate this as a positive experience. If, however, the results are your best work but the perception of them, however they turn out, is that you are a responsive and responsible company, you may still get positive feedback from the customer.
Applying this same rule to how you approach response time creates an easy illustration for our purposes: If the customer perceives that you are efficient and responsive to the inquiry itself, they may be more willing to work with you on a timeline to achieve their desired result.
The Problem With Procrastination
So what happens when you don’t answer the inquiry promptly? Well, the short answer is: nothing good. The longer answer is slightly more complicated:
By failing to respond to potential projects quickly, you’re choosing to miss out on jobs and reputation building opportunities. This translates to a loss of potential income for you, but on a more meta level also translates into increased actual profit for local competitors. It also translates to better word-of-mouth advertising for your competition, and no amount of paid advertising can compete with that.
So if you’ve been wondering if a fast response time is important for referrals and inquiries, the answer is a resounding yes. By showing that you are responsive and attentive, you’ll see a marked increase in contracts secured and profit generated. By showing the opposite, you’ll receive the opposite result. In summary, it pays to be attentive.