I posted a new job lead to my team of VAs and one of the responses I got both surprised me but also made me realise that perhaps some VAs (particularly newer ones) probably thought it was ok to do this. Make the client wait.
The response was:
Could you kindly forward on his details to me and I will contact him within 24 hours.
My reply to her was:
I strongly suggest you reply to him today, sooner rather than later. Clients will rarely wait 24 hours before hearing back from someone – they’ll just go to someone else. Two other members have already responded so important you make initial contact with him too. Once you have built a relationship with a client then letting them know you’ll be in touch within 24 hours is ok, but not on first contact.
I feel it is really important that the client knows that someone has heard/seen their request and will be acting on it. If you don’t reply then they’ll think that either you’re not interested or perhaps your email isn’t working. Either way they’ll move on to the very next VA they have contact with.
While I agree that you can’t be at your computer 24/7, that you do have a life and do need to sleep, the reality is if a request comes through during business hours (or perhaps waking hours) then it’s important to give some sort of response. Let them know you’ve seen their email. If you are going to be out of the office for a few days, then set up some kind of autoresponder or have someone else monitor your email for you. Your business is important.
Put it this way. If the phone was ringing would you let it just ring out, thinking you’ll answer it tomorrow? Email is another form of communication but unlike the phone can’t make the urgent sound that demands you answer it immediately. Worth thinking about.