What’s an Appropriate Response Time to Inquirers?

About ten years ago when e-mail became mainstream at colleges/universities, departments were skittish about having a separate dedicated e-mail account as a way for their customers to contact them. They worried about work load creep, and customers expecting a quick turn around time for responses. Most of these folks still preferred to be tied up on the phone with their customers at that point.
photo of a train moving fast

Now, most departments are long on board with the dedicated e-mail account. And it’s mutually understood that customers will receive a response within one to two business days at most.

Enter… Facebook.

Your college/university has a Facebook Fan page. It’s getting littered with wall posts from prospective students eager for information about your institution. They’re posting at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night and re-posting “helllooooo??” by 11 a.m. Sunday morning if they haven’t received a response yet. Holidays? Doesn’t matter. Receiving posts on Christmas Day and New Years Eve get the same reactions.

How do you handle this if you’re not looking until you get back to work again Monday morning?

Do you know how many lost opportunities take place if you only monitor your social media efforts during the traditional work week? Other fans of your page may jump in and try to be helpful. If they’re right, fantastic. It’s the ones who spread misinformation you have to worry about and is why it is critical for you to keep listening periodically throughout the weekend and evenings during the week.

If you’re going to jump into social media – you need to be able to realistically support it. Expect to check your Facebook Fan Page at all weird hours of the weekend and evening. If you can’t, find someone on your team that will. Students are a great resource for this — but of course you need to find someone you can trust who will not only be genuine, but maintain a level of professionalism and accuracy while speaking in “their language.”

Social media has blown the traditional work week out the door. It’s made it harder and harder for professionals to disconnect. The new culture is all about “the now.” Text message me now. Instant message me now. They don’t want to wait until tomorrow. Should we train them to slow down, or just ride this wave with them?

Photo credit shindohd