It was a Tuesday night around 8:30 pm. My husband and I had just put our 3 kids to bed. We were either talking or watching a show – for that 1 hour of the day we actually have alone together, without any other obligations. So, I missed your phone call.
The next morning the kids woke us up around 6 am, I made breakfast and lunches, while my husband swam with, and then showered our kids. After feeding them, dressing them, dropping them off at daycare and then running to my 8:30 am meeting – I still hadn’t listened to your voicemail. Also, I had not checked my email – so there was no way I could have read your email.
In the middle of my meeting, you called and texted again – yet, I was in a meeting and did not see either.
When I was done with my meeting around 10:45 am, I finally looked at my phone – I saw your not-so-pleased text, and noticed that voicemail you left was from the previous evening at 8:30 pm.
14 hours. 14 hours I was busy with life and that was too long for you.
We had the appointment set 2 weeks before and you wanted to reschedule. You called the night before the appointment at 8:30 pm. When I called you back around 11 am the next day – you were pissed off.
Is this you?
Could this person have been me in the past? For sure. Do we need to stop expecting immediate responses or was I being neglectful?
After nearly 5 years in business for myself, there is absolutely no one I expect immediate responses from. There are a few businesses that offer support for products they sell and I expect, at a minimum, 24-hour response time – but those are businesses that have support teams.
Look people, we need to stop all this nonsense.
Just because I have a cell phone does not mean I have it next to me 24 hours a day. I do not wake up and immediately check my email. And I definitely do not respond to phone calls and text messages from clients after 8 pm – unless there is a true emergency, which has happened twice in those 5 years.
I’d like to state for the record that I am not advocating for long response times. I am, however, advocating for realistic response times from people you know are 1-person shops.
So, what are realistic response times and realistic cancellation/rescheduling times?
1. If you need to cancel/reschedule an appointment, always give at least 24 hours notice.
I learned this lesson before I had my own business. I had bi-weekly meetings with my therapist and if I didn’t cancel 24 hours in advance, I was charged for the session. Now, as with everything in life, this is not a black-and-white rule. Emergencies and exceptions DO happen.
2. If you email/call/text a solo business owner, give the person at least 48 hours before you get irritated.
If everything feels like an emergency, you will always be freaking out about something. I tend to agree with Tim Ferriss’ outlook on this: there are very, very few true emergencies or things that need to be dealt with right away. Readjust your expectations. I promise you’ll immediately feel better about other people.
3. If you ask a long, convoluted question in your email/text/voicemail, double the expected response time.
Sometimes I get these emails and I don’t even have the time to read them, let alone type paragraphs to reply. If you can’t be responded to in 5 minutes or less, you should probably schedule a time to talk. No solo business owner has the time to answer your 10 theoretical questions via email.
Hey, we all like to feel in control.
And we have no control over when someone will respond – and that makes us feel really uncomfortable. And really, that’s just fine.
Feel that “uncomfortableness” and move on to whatever it is you really need to be doing.
If you’re still in need of some help with this, listen to Louis CK talk about having patience with cell phones.