Not too long ago (or far away), when you worked with a client, you created a list of items to follow-up on. The client handled some, and you handled the others. You agreed on dates for each of the items. They became part of your to-do list. You achieved your items and sent them in. The client did their part. Maybe a phone call or a reminder email was needed. Just one, though.
Time passed. The smart phone brought us synch-able calendars, voice-use to-do lists, Evernote reminder beeps, and countdown timers. And then, the fine art of follow-up vanished. All the reminders? Don’t help. Reminder emails? No one reads emails anymore. Reminder texts? Replied to by ghosts.
This morning, I cleaned up the mess from my mortgage company, which forgot to send money out of escrow to pay my homeowner’s insurance. My insurance company solved their problem by billing me. I know that every day the money stays in escrow, the mortgage company earns interest. Still, by the time my insurance company is dunning me, that check should have cleared. But it had not. And the mortgage company heavily suggested this was my error. Nope. Escrow account. Finally, the check was sent.
For the last three months, there has been an error on my condo statement. After the third call this morning, I had them put the agreement we reached in writing. They forgot. I sent them an email listing the key points of our phone and email discussions and asked for agreement. I’ve sent them a reminder, too. Because so far–no agreement. After they admitted to a $1,230.56 error, I want it in writing.
A training client asked for an outline of a class for approval. They asked for a two-day turnaround. They couldn’t wait any longer. That was in April. Every Monday I sent an email asking if the class content has been approved. Every Tuesday I receive an email that says “one of the team is traveling,” or “one of the team members is out sick.” So far the team has been on vacation, had a baby, went to a conference, had a doctor’s appointment. The only thing I haven’t heard is that they had to wash their hair. Should I give up? I can’t. They haven’t said no. (I’ve also asked about that.) With all the people I see glued to their screens, it’s odd this hasn’t been resolved.
No one follows up. When someone agrees to follow up, I don’t put it on my to-do list, because they said they would. It seems shabby for me to say, “I know you won’t follow up, I’ll send you a reminder. Better yet, I’ll just do it myself.”
Maybe they are hoping I’ll take on the follow-up for them. Not a good idea–it doesn’t allow them to act adult. Yes, I’ve seen the memes and know everyone is tired of adulting, but sadly, we live in a world of adults, and adulting is a requirement. And not just for me.
Follow up is important. It shows you are thinking of the project. Making progress. Thinking of your work team. Thinking of others.
I know that some words are fading from our reality. Clockwise, dial tone, busy signal, CD. All fading. Please don’t let follow up be in that list.
GIVEAWAY UPDATE: Carolyn Wyatt won the book Story Sparks, by Denise Jaden. Congratulations, Carolyn!
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing and coaches other writers.