Follow-up: When

The when part of this series on follow-ups for customer service and support departments has two parts: the first being when (as in 2:00 PM or 10:00 AM) the follow-ups should be conducted and the second part is how long after the issue is assumed resolved or left inactive (as in one week, two weeks, etc.).

The golden rule of when and follow-ups is don’t bother anyone. The second you bother one of your customers is the second they start to think less of your brand, your company, and your customer service experience. You’ve put in the work to do the follow-up and you shouldn’t screw it by bothering your customer.

Part 1: What Time
Since general golden rules are popular the rule for what time is generally the time they contacted you. However, this is more like a silver rule as it doesn’t always work. I know that I send emails or call tech support every now and then at 1 or 2 AM and I certainly wouldn’t want to get a phone call around then.

This rule does generally work, though, if you do your homework. When making phone calls, see where the person lives and lookup the time zone. I live on east coast of the US, so if the representative bothers to look that up and finds out that it’s 2 AM where I live, he or she can move on to a customer that lives in a place where it’s noon or 1 PM. If you noticed the customer called at a fairly normal time (say 4 PM their time), try and call them around that time.

Don’t worry about what time for email or regular mail. Depending on your business, you should stick to either just the weeks or the weekends. For example, if you provide business services, send emails on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, giving the customer plenty of time during the week to reply. If you provide more consumer services, try and send the emails on a Friday or Saturday, giving the customer at least Sunday to reply.

Do try to avoid calling during meal times and early mornings (before 10 AM their time is probably not a good idea). Emails and regular mailings is okay at basically any time of the day, but you may want to do a follow-up slightly before when you normally receive replies from a customer (say their replies come around 2 PM EST, send your emails at 1:30 PM EST), that way the communication can be kept more instant.

Part 2: How Long
I’m going to try and do general rules for how long.

  • Sales Inquires: one week, then one after a month or so
  • Customer Service & Support: one week, then maybe after a month or so if the issue was complicated
  • Billing: four to five days and then perhaps before the related billing period
  • Complaint: One to two weeks after the complaint being replied to with an update, three weeks after the first complaint to give a progress report
  • Suggestion: One to two weeks after a reply saying it was good, bad, not possible, etc. and another follow-up a month later to give a progress report
  • Misc. Use your judgment. It depends on the type of question/comment.

This was longer than the last few posts, so I’m getting better. When you do follow-ups is of course important, but if you keep the ultimate golden rule in mind (use common sense), you’ll be fine.