As a business owner, client satisfaction is paramount to your success. If your clients are happy, then business is booming and life is good. So, what is the secret to client satisfaction? As a digital marketing expert, there are many strategies I could unpack here, but today, we’re going to talk about responsiveness and how this underpins the 1-24-24 rule of client servicing.
Before we unpack the 1-24-24 rule, however, let’s begin with a brief exercise. Think back upon some of your favourite exchanges that you have had with a business as a customer. The exchange could have been via digital means, phone, or even in person. Why do these exchanges stand out in your mind? If I had to put money on it, it would be because of their attentiveness, which goes hand-in-hand with timely responses.
My professional background
If you’re acquainted with my work, you may be aware that I manage multiple digital marketing organisations in Melbourne: VIS, VIS Healthcare Marketing, and 360° Dental Marketing. I never rest on my laurels as a digital marketing consultant, and I am proactive in asking our VIS clients why they love working with us. When asked, our clients will often cite our ultra-responsive attitude as one of the major reasons. To reference an often misattributed quote, I am what I repeatedly do. Responsiveness, then, is not an act, but a habit. In fact, it’s instilled in the DNA of each of my businesses.
When I first began my career at Telstra, my mentors imparted upon me some wisdom that changed my life. I live by these words every day: ‘acknowledging and responding comes first before resolving any matter’. The reality is that you can’t resolve an issue straight away, but you should make your clients feel valued without delay. And the way you do this is by acknowledging their enquiry within an hour of receiving it.
The 1-24-24 rule: part 1
This brings us to the 1-24-24 rule. The rule comprises three numbers, and each number represents a number of hours. This makes sense because, as any digital strategist will tell you, time is money. Use your time with care as duration can make or break any situation—even outside of business!
The first component of the rule refers to the timeframe that follows an enquiry. Once someone has contacted you, you have one hour to respond and acknowledge the request. If you think this sounds like a small timeframe—especially if you’re managing multiple clients—let’s reframe the situation. Some people think a reply isn’t necessary until after they have resolved the situation, or at least decided how they will tackle the issue. This line of thinking is a trap!
Don’t think of the one-hour timeframe as the time required to resolve the issue. This is a separate matter and you have 24 hours to do that. Within this one-hour deadline, all you need to do is acknowledge the enquiry. Simple!
The power of acknowledgement
How is acknowledgement so powerful? For one thing, it confirms that you actively monitor your enquiries and prioritise the customer experience. It shows that you care enough to keep the third party in the loop—which is the B2C equivalent of CC’ing a colleague into an internal email—and alleviates all fears that the message somehow fell through the cracks (or into the Spam folder).
For another thing, we live in a world of instant gratification. Smartphones have conditioned us to expect instant responses and fast-tracked deliveries. Even in the cases of delayed orders, apps like Uber Eats and Shop allow location-based tracking, which is another (automated!) way to inform customers and keep them in the loop. So, with all communication channels at our fingertips, there is little excuse for untimely replies. From a customer’s perspective, the time you take to reply is proportional to how much you prioritise them.
If you run a large business, it may be difficult for you to reply to every enquiry within one hour. If this is the case, you have options:
- Delegate enquiries to trusted customer service representatives (which may involve some recruitment and onboarding), or
- Set up an automated reply to email-based enquiries with an expected turnaround time. Although this option is neither personalised nor ideal, it still tells the person that you care enough to at least automate the acknowledgement process. This is preferable to waiting days for a response.
The 1-24-24 rule: parts 2 and 3
Once you’ve acknowledged the enquiry, ensure to resolve the issue within 24 hours. As established, the sooner you work to fix the problem, the more you demonstrate to your customers that they are a priority.
Once you’ve found your solution, follow up on the original enquiry one last time within—you guessed it—another 24 hours. This reassures the customer that you’ve a) resolved the query and b) taken the time to provide an update. People respond well to this because it shows that you care enough to respond in a timely way and to keep a consistent dialogue. It also gives them a final chance to respond with any further or related enquiries before closing the matter altogether.
Wrapping it up
Throughout my career as a digital marketing consultant, I have always implemented the 1-24-24 rule, and it has paid off every single time. It’s the best way to make a customer feel heard and prioritised, regardless of their tier of client category. For more helpful hints like this one, go to my website and drop me a line! For examples of my success, check out any of my three digital marketing agencies around Melbourne: VIS, VIS Healthcare Marketing, and 360° Dental Marketing.