At what point does expecting someone to be patient become rude?
That's a really good question.
I saw the comment 34 minutes after hanging up from a telephone call with a client; a phone call that was about a proposal we've been working on for more than a year, and has had some serious setbacks in terms of my available time.
I'm very fortunate to have clients who have not lost patience with me.
On the other hand I've have more than a few former clients because they DID lose patience with me.
Patience is an individual sensibility.
[Just like eating peas with honey is a gross breach of table manners to some, and the only way to keep peas on a knife, thus practical, to others.]
I try to set realistic expectations for people who query and people who are waiting for me to read full manuscripts. I tell them how long it should take, and say it's ok to touch base with me if they get worried, and certainly if they haven't heard from me in the time frame I've set.
That has helped diminish the level of writer anxiety in the prospect pool a lot.
Expecing someone to be endlessly patient without paremeters or permission to be in touch is rude.
I try to communicate with clients in a timely manner. Most of the time it works. Some times I fall VERY short. When that happens, the client moves to the top of the priority list. (In the prioritizaion on Tuesday's blog post, they become important AND urgent.)
We set a time for a telephone call and get caught up.
Expecting someone to wait patiently with no end in sight is rude.
In the normal woop and warf of client communication, appointments for phone calls are made, deadlines agreed to and expectations that To Do will Get Done are set.
A LOT of times, those things get pushed back. A phone call needs to be rescheduled, a project doesn't get finished, a deadline gets missed.
I think a general rule of thumb here is that you can push/move/change an agreement three time before it's rude.
Absent some life changing situation three times is about the max.
If there is a life changing situation, then all bets are off, and you wait it out.
I've had colleagues lose clients when they've been upfront about personal situations they've had to deal with. One in particular sent out an email that said she'd be dealing with a personal family emergency and was fired in a return email by a client who said s/he really wanted an agent who was available. (I had to be physically restrained from visiting that former client's place of abode. Fortunately we all realized that any client with that atttitude was better off being a former client and as soon as humanly possible, so bullet dodged, thank you.)