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Refrain from using "ASAP" in emails, ASAP!

If you are doing business over the Net, you might have noticed this: some people love the word/expression "ASAP".  This means, of course, "As Soon As Possible".  In other wording, it would mean "Do this right now, or else".  At least in my mind, that’s what it means.

The thing is, a lot of people, even businesses, use this term in their email communications.  For many years of doing business myself, I have refrained from using this expression.  A long time ago, I learned that using ASAP in emails couldn’t be more arrogant and non-sense.  Since then, I banned the use of this term.

When you think about it, using ASAP in an email doesn’t make much sense.  First, emails are an asynchronous way of communication, so you never know when the recipient will read it. Second, it doesn’t give any time definition, so "soon" for Joe might not be the same "soon" of John.

Sometimes, our customer support service receives a message that includes the word "ASAP".  In the beginning, when I would see this coming from a potential customer, I would be a bit stressed and think "OMG let’s put this in priority, this guy needs that right now".  I even answered a support email on Christmas day because of that.  The funny thing though: once I did what they wanted and replied "super-fast ASAP", them, in turn, didn’t reply a thing for at least a week, sometimes even never.  How ASAP was really the situation, I wondered.

Today, I have a pretty good picture in my mind of the type of person using ASAP.  With our customer service, we threat all messages with the same priority level and reply in a timely manner to all, "ASAP" used or not.  But you can be sure that if I see a ASAP in the email, I get a little smile on the face.

Now, let’s reverse the situation and ask yourself this question: is your business offering support only when users are putting ASAP in the emails?

We just had this experience recently with a company.  We signed up for a marketing campaign with them in November 2011.  Out of the sells they would do, we would receive a commission at the end (it was a one week offer).  Normally, we would have been paid somewhere in December, but no news from them.  So I wrote to the guy that was my contact in the company to see when the payment would be done.  No answer.  I wrote back two weeks later. Still no answer.  I was starting to really wonder, so I gave a call to his phone. Do I need to mention that it was an answering machine? I left a voicemail.  Still no returned call after another two weeks. I was getting really upset at the situation and was about to give up on them (they actually didn’t sell much, but still).  Then, as one last move, I went on their contact form on their site and wrote: "Guys. Why is it taking so long and no reply from you? Please contact me ASAP." There I was using one last trick that I thought wouldn’t work.

Guess what. It worked!  In less than an hour, I received an email and they were suddenly sorry about the delay and they wanted me to send (again) the information to complete the payment. I was surprised that this actually worked and that’s when I had the idea of writing this post.

If you do business like those guys, you’ll fail.  Offering good customer service is far more important than anything else in your business (read Doing Business 101: Great Product, Awesome Customer Service).  If you wait for ASAP before going into action, you will lose your customers and you will get a very bad reputation.

Next time you think of using ASAP, think twice!



1 Comment:

Comment by Rita Dawson on 2012/06/25:
I agree with you in the point of "more arrogant". People get irritated when ASAP is used in article. They feel as so they are forced to do that. This implies there is no use for the email. Some places, it works and in some place it doesn't. I normally used to avoid ASAP to the maximum extent.