Rapid Response – When is it needed?

Rapid responses have a great deal to recommend them.  If you have a problem situation to resolve, it is usually advisable to handle it quickly before things get worse.  Conversely if you are waiting for an answer from some other person,  the earlier you get the information or advice, the quicker you can take action.  That all sounds fine and dandy, but we all know that is not how things turn out in reality.

Response Expectations

Most of us have got beaten down by the way things seem to get done.  Perhaps a non-scientific indication of that is shown by some quick searches on Google.  The number of items in the Google search is an indicator of the degree of public interest in the phrase that was searched for.  Here are the results we found at this time.

Keyword phrase

Google Search entries


1.28 billion

Slow response

1.16 billion

Fast response

188 million

Inappropriate response

127 million

Appropriate response

102 million

Speedy response

48 million

Timely response

36 million

One might infer from these numbers that a slow response is almost inevitable and that more often than not inappropriate responses will be given rather than the appropriate responses one wished for.  Getting a fast, speedy or timely response is clearly a much less probable outcome.


If rapid responses are the exception, does anyone regard them as a priority that deserves extra effort and resources?  In this article, we will discuss the two sectors that seem to feature most prominently in such online discussions.  All sectors of society now rely on electronic communication and insist on always-on availability of information.  It is therefore not surprising that the IT industry believes that the speed of response is critical.

You have to be fast in today’s marketplace and no department feels the heat more than IT, according to four of the Enterprise CIO Forum Council members.

People must have an attitude that ‘faster is better than best.’ Something that solves 33% of a problem today is better than something that solves 100% of a problem in 18 months. Many companies sacrifice speed for perfection or false precision. Often data or solutions can be ‘good enough’ to take interim steps and action.

Of course faster is also more costly and here the IT department must balance the need for a response with the cost of achieving that.  That is why a major computer supplier such as Dell offers Speed of Response Options.

Get parts and labor fast — upgrade from next-business-day on-site service, which comes standard with Dell ProSupport, to same-day or mission-critical on-site service.  This will help keep client systems up and running, and minimize data center downtime.  This  flexible approach to technical support allows you to choose the response time you need to support your business. This flexibility helps you not just keep your users up and running and your data centers operating at top speed, but also enables you to keep your IT budget under control.

Public relations

Another area where rapid responses are needed is that of public relations, for businesses and for governments. Adverse publicity is often utilized by critics who know how to work the media.  Unless prompt action is taken, what starts as a minor negative incident can mushroom into a very costly major event  A typical example of what is being done can be seen in Washington DC where the White House has beefed up on its online rapid response.

The Obama administration has created and staffed a new position tucked inside their communications shop for helping coordinate rapid response to unfavorable stories and fostering and improving relations with the progressive online community.  Jesse Lee will move from the new media department into a role in the communications department as Director of Progressive Media & Online Response.  This signals that the White House will be adopting a more aggressive engagement in the online world in the months ahead.

Lee’s Twitter account could also become an interesting window into the status of the always emotional, occasional testy dance between progressives and the president.

The reason why politicians would aim to get involved in social media is that social media are giving individuals channels within which they can ensure their views are known and shared.  A major organization can either get involved as a participant in the debate or remain the subject of the discussion. This is an area that many businesses realize they should be involved in but they are unclear on how best to do this.

Lost Opportunities – Potential Customers

Given that most companies will take the easy way out and remain faceless entities that do not get involved, this is an area where a company can easily stand out from the crowd and from its competitors.  All that it takes is to think ahead and plan the resources and the format of your Timely Response, both for potential customers who may contact you and for important happenings in the market place.

An appropriate and informative timely marketing piece not only shows you understand an issue well (and are relevant and capable of addressing it), but also shows that you are a proactive person within a dynamic company that is not afraid to take a stance in their industry and with their customers. You can also offer potential calls to action that may trigger your customers to approach you for expert advice or information.

This is not a major cost activity.  All that it takes is that you are alert to opportunities (which you should be anyway) and that someone has the responsibility for acting as the voice of the company. The key requirement is that the response be rapid. Delay will mean that you’re just lost in the crowd.

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