By Pete Rizzuto

Email and text etiquette is an important topic relating to personal and professional communications across our industry and beyond. Whether personal or business-related, non-responsiveness can be inconsiderate at best, and jeopardize your business or reputation at worst. One should almost always respond to an email or a text, and in most cases, the response should be timely. There are of course some, but very few, exceptions. For example, sometimes a delayed response is a strategy during a negotiation, but that is not what is referred to here. Sending a simple “Got it”, or “Working on it”, “Thanks”, or “I appreciate your input; will get back to you shortly” can go a long way in ensuring that you and your company are perceived by clients and others in the best light.

Generally, responsiveness to clients, industry or medical thought leaders, and one’s colleagues demonstrates both good manners and good business. Indeed, in a business setting, it keeps your name in front of a client in a positive way. A timely response to a communication isn’t just a nice or professional thing to do—it is imperative. In fact, a lack of urgency in your response should be considered unacceptable.

If a client asks for a proposal based on a particular need, delivering the proposal in a timely fashion can mean the difference between getting the business and not getting it. Why?

  • You may pre-empt a competitor’s proposal, and you may have a better chance of the client selecting your proposal
  • The situation with the client could change. There could be a reallocation of budget or a shift in staffing, and if the client doesn’t have your proposal in front of them the decision to cancel the project can be easier to rationalize. However, if they have already seen the proposal and it’s strong, they may be more motivated to continue with the project despite their internal shuffle
  • You may miss out on a time-sensitive opportunity
  • It demonstrates that you care about your client’s business and that you can act as a trusted advisor to them
  • The client could forget. Our clients are busy individuals with numerous other issues competing for their time and attention. If you are discussing a proposal or addendum one day and the client likes the idea, but then it takes you several weeks to send it over, they may forget why they are “suddenly” receiving a proposal or addendum. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”. In this scenario, we may need to take the time to backtrack and explain the context behind their initial interest in the idea. This can waste time, energy, and resources, and it can put you in a defensive and often uncomfortable situation. In a worst-case scenario, they may decide they don’t even want the proposal anymore

If you’re lucky enough to have the client sign the proposal, it is incumbent upon you and your team to start the project expeditiously and move it along as quickly as possible, all while ensuring high quality, for several reasons:

  • It will likely make the client happy. Happy clients maintain the reputation of our Firm and lead to further business
  • The more complete a project is, the less likely a client will be to cancel it outright, as “the train has already left the station”
  • Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances can lead to a project’s cancellation. However, the more work that has been completed, the more that can be billed once the project is “killed”

Finally, one cannot stress enough the importance of correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and tone in your email and text communications. There are too many emails, text messages, and Tweets that are devoid of any of these things, and it can reflect poorly on you and your company. Worse yet, without proper grammar or punctuation, the recipient may not understand or may misinterpret what you are trying to say. Clear, concise communication is a part of the fabric of our business, and it cannot be overestimated.

Following these simple rules will enhance your personal and professional communications—keep them in mind and it could make a world of difference.