The First Industry-Wide New Year's Resolution
Edition: February 2007 - Vol 15 Number 02
It’s already February, so the silly New Year’s resolutions have long since been broken or forgotten. Most of these resolutions merely accentuate a negative action or behavior. They are about giving something up or not doing something that is bad for your health or well-being.
Let’s face it, when we vow to lose weight or quit smoking, we know that we’re most likely going to fail. Gosh, we make the same doomed resolutions almost every year. Why keep setting ourselves up for failure?
I have a resolution for the entire industry. The best part about it is that it’s very do-able. And it is a positive action, not a negative one.
So here it is. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I promise to respond to all business e-mails and voice messages within 48 hours.”
That’s it. Simple and within everyone’s capability.
Now I didn’t say that the issues pertaining to those e-mails and voicemails have to be resolved. All I am saying is that a response in that 48-hour time frame is not only reasonable, but responsible. Even if the response is to say, “Hey, quit calling me you pain in the neck,” or “Sorry I have been so busy that I won’t be able to discuss your issue until six weeks from next Friday.” At the very least, we’ve initiated a civil process of discourse. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t experienced the frustration of this communication failure. We’re also all guilty of it — some more so than others.
We may be conducting business in the age of technology where wondrous electronic gadgets and conveniences abound, but where does it say that we should excuse bad behavior? Too many of us have used these electronic conveniences as excuses to avoid direct communication. All of our businesses depend heavily upon clear — and timely — communication. That’s what led to the development of these electronic aids in the first place. Yet in the end, the means has bastardized the ends.
We are all pretty “wired” today, whether through Blackberry’s, laptops, PDAs or our cell phones. (My wife thinks I have an appendage growing out of my ear and can’t understand why it is called a tooth). There is no reason why we can’t improve our response times. Sure, we all are busy, but in the end, we only complicate our own schedules by not responding promptly. In our industry, we are all pretty persistent, so it’s not likely we are going to just let our questions and calls remain unanswered. All that the procrastination does is increase the number of messages we have to return.
The communication between trading partners is crucial in today’s fast-paced world. Certainly, the demands on our time have increased, but along with those demands have come the tools necessary to deal with them. Manufacturers and distributors need to communicate quickly and efficiently in order to satisfy their mutual clinical customers. We should stop hiding behind these electronic walls and using excuses such as “my e-mail crashed,” “I couldn’t get a cell signal,” or “you must have gotten kicked out by our spam filter.”
“The dog ate my homework” has more credibility than those. Let’s vow as an industry to use these wonderful tools to make all of our businesses more efficient — not less.
So take the time when you’re less busy and answer messages and e-mails sooner rather than later. You will find that you will wind up a lot less busy than you are today!
Plus, when we’re successful at this, we’ll feel less guilty about sneaking that doughnut!