As a professional person it is important to respond to clients’ questions promptly. Gone are the days when generally a client would write a letter and would be happy to have had a reply within a week. Now they mostly expect a reply to an email fairly promptly, by which I mean within hours. However I was surprised to see in an article that “Generation Y” accountants (born between 1980 and 1993) were best placed to deal with modern clients demands because “Greater use of mobile devices and online technologies is leading to clients expecting more support outside of the traditional nine-to-five working hours.”
Of course I am ancient compared with “Generation Y” people. In my early working life, people wanting an answer to an urgent query picked up the telephone.. Everyone had access to a telephone, even if they had to walk to their street corner and enter one of those strange red boxes with windows. Actually all our clients had a land-line in their house.
It is true that with a smartphone (I have one), a computer (I have several), a tablet (got one of those too) anyone can be in touch with their clients and answer a query at one in the morning. However, is that wise? Should anyone, ancient like me or in her twenties, be answering client queries at all hours? Even young people get tired, might have had a glass of something and would have a much higher risk of making a mistake.
Young people get stressed and ill from work pressures too. I have seen it all to often. A close and able colleague of mine of twenty-something had a complete breakdown over pressure of work.
Yes, people expect answers and quickly. Yes, we should do our best to respond promptly even if to ask for more time to think. But no, none of us should be available day and night because we need our time to relax and rest, our downtime and our sleep, otherwise we will never be at our best.
I see clients out of hours by arrangement and am open to talking to clients in New Zealand via Skype at crack of dawn if needed, and by appointment, but otherwise if someone messages me in the evening they really do not expect a reply within minutes, especially not a technical one.
It is down to time management and discipline and even Generation Y will have to ration themselves otherwise they will not get to be as old as I am. Even being on-line most of one’s waking hours should not mean working most of one’s waking hours.
Maybe I am old-fashioned. On the other hand, perhaps my experience has taught me better time management. I think the conclusion of that article was nonsense, but do you agree with it and think it was Sage advice?