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Response Etiquette 101

Answer Me !

I’ve found more and more that people are not concerned at all about the response time for various avenues of communication. How long does it take you to respond back to someone trying to reach you? Or, do you answer at all? I’m still in shock I have not received an answer from a representative at a major real estate news company sent two weeks ago! What does that say to the person waiting? If you can not answer a question, just say so! If you need more time to give a response, just say so! But do not do nothing!

Sometimes, you can kick yourself in the butt because you set people’s expectations too high. For example, if you are adamant and always return calls/emails within 5 minutes, and all of a sudden you take 8 hours – this can be misconstrued as rude because it is so much longer than normal.

Here are some examples of what I feel are acceptable response times for non crisis responses …

  • Voice Message – Same day
  • Text Message – 1 hour
  • Email – 4 hours
  • Twitter @ – 2 hours
  • Twitter DM – Next log in (no more than 24 hours)
  • Commenter – Next day
  • Instant Message – Instantly
  • Lead from Buyer (no matter what avenue of communication) – 1 hour

Leave them Alone – NOT!

Of course there are always exceptions – and the best practice is “as soon as possible” But, there are times when that just doesn’t work. And remember, don’t just ignore.

While we’re at Etiquette 101. If you are engaged in a conversation back and forth – it is polite to end the conversation before you disappear. Responses should be immediate if the conversation is flowing; but not end abruptly.

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Written By

Kim resides and works selling Real Estate in Chester County, PA. She is a blogger and also writes for her own blog, West of Philly Burbs and Mothers Fighting for Others. Kim is a Social Networking Junkie and you can connect with her in many places including Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.



  1. @Fresyes

    January 15, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I have learned (and I am still trying to perfect it) to keep expectations at a minimum. For instance I used to say… I’ll have this for you in an hour or by the end of the day. The client may not have needed it that soon but because I said I would have it by a certain time, they would be disappointed if I didn’t in fact have it complete at that hour. Now I may it a point to ask… when do you need this by or I will get it to you as soon as I can. It’s still I priority to me, just now I can take on life’s surprises without stressing that I may be missing a deadline.

  2. Chuck G

    January 15, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Hey Kim,

    Interesting that you’d post this. It seems obvious, but it’s still something we tend to forget when we get busy.

    Whether it’s fair or not, that first interaction we have with a potential client leaves a lasting first impression. You could be the most responsive person on the planet, but if you drop the ball on their first inquiry, their impression of you that you’re too busy or not responsive. And like all first impressions, it takes a LONG time to overcome that.

    There’s nothing that makes me happier than when a person replies back to me with “Thanks for the quick response!”


  3. @Fresyes

    January 15, 2009 at 7:11 am

    gosh my grammar was horrible in that reply (I guess not sleeping is me effecting more I than realized 😉

  4. Ken Brand

    January 15, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Human nature = I want to feel significant.

    Delayed response/acknowledgment = I’m not significant.

    I’m not significant = You fail, I move on.

    Nice reminder.

  5. Steve Krzysiak

    January 15, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Interesting, but I think the times show be reversed for a twitter dm and @replies. I see my @replies when I log in, which is not as often as I’d like. However, my DMs come to my cell phone, which prompt me to go log in and respond asap.

    I guess I could see my @ replies on a more regular basis, but I havent found the right mobile solution for my phone(the G1)

  6. Nick Bostic

    January 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I think the big key really is to set expectations clearly. We now know the best/fastest ways to get in touch with Kim based on her usage habits. Mine are different:
    Voice Message – If you left your email address in message, email response within 4 hours, if not call back within 24.
    Text Message – 1/2 hour
    Email – Used to be minutes, but due to overload, now 6 hours
    Twitter @ – 6 hours
    Twitter DM – Minutes (I do SMS alerts too)
    Commenter – 2 Hours (thanks to Intense Debate)
    Instant Message – May be a while, IM is always on, but I’m not always able to respond

    So now you know the best ways to reach Kim and I, just make sure your customers know the best way to get in touch with YOU!

  7. Missy Caulk

    January 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Kim, I respond to DM when I log on to Twitter, and that has not been much lately. LOL

    Leads get responded to asap, within minutes and no more than an hour.

    Emails usually right away but at least that day.

  8. Melina Tomson

    January 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I think this is a matter of setting expectations for people. During winter months (which are slower here in Oregon) these are all reasonable. In summer when we are really busy…everything by the end of the day for sure, but times get lengthened out.

    If I’m out with a buyer, I don’t spend a lot of time on my phone or texting other people. I wait for natural breaks to do that. You want to be responsive, but not at the expense of the clients you are with at the time.

  9. Mark Storolis

    January 19, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Good etiquette is good business.

    A gentleman is never in a rush. And a gentleman never handles calls/texts in the presence of another person, client or otherwise. Never.

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