Welcome Back to the Blow-Off Economy. Yay?

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Great news! GDP is on the rise. The unemployment rate is down. Holiday retail sales are predicted to be strong. There’s no question that the economy is on the rebound. But I don’t need economic analysis, government data or the latest statistics to tell me this. I have my own way of knowing. How? Oh, that’s easy. No one’s returning my calls or emails. I’m being blown off a lot more. In fact, I’m being blown off as much as I was before the 2009 recession.

Yes, we’re back to the Blow-Off Economy. Hooray!

Related: Data Show U.S. Economy's Pulse Is Still Strong

During the recession, my calls and emails were always returned. I would email customers and prospects and partners and suppliers and they would reply back. They were happy to keep in touch with me, wanted better deals, were interested in negotiating prices, asking for referrals, wondering how my business was doing and inquiring about new opportunities.

Today, people don’t reply to my emails or calls nearly as much. They are busy. They are important. They have better things to do with their time than worry about stupid-old me and my stupid-old business. There are bigger fish to fry. There are bigger clients to pursue, bigger customers to serve, bigger deals on the horizon. Who cares about Gene Marks and his little dipsy-doodle 10-person company?

"I know I know that guy, but I’m just too, too busy to send a five-word response."

Welcome to the Blow-Off Economy.

During the recession, employees were happy to have their jobs. Their colleagues were being laid off around them. So they worked, and they worked hard. They put in the extra time, they didn’t complain and they counted themselves lucky to get a paycheck.

So when a customer, a partner or someone else emailed or called them, they made it a point to respond. They didn’t want to get complaints. They didn’t want to give their bosses any reason to fire them. They knew there was a line of people waiting to take their chair. But now? Ah, who cares! I don’t need to respond to that guy. I don’t need to follow up on that quote. I don’t need to answer that little customer’s question or offer to help a potential client. I’m just too, too busy.

Welcome to the Blow-Off Economy.

Related: If You Want That Customer, Mind Your Manners

During the recession, if I needed services, either at my business or at my house, I called, and people answered the phone. They had time for me, showed up and worked hard. They were grateful for the business. Now, just try to get a plumber to visit your house or a lawyer to answer a simple business question. How long are you waiting for a tech-support person to call you back or for that product to be shipped?

How many more minutes are you spending on hold? How many times have you been ignored by customer-service reps or receptionists who tell you that “Mr. Jones is booked this month, please call back.” Mr. Jones is just too, too busy for you. He wasn’t too busy in 2009.

So welcome to the Blow-Off Economy.

Maybe I should be happy, right? I’m busier too. I’m grateful that the economy is back and that we’re not in a recession. But, call me crazy -- I’ve learned from the recession. I’ve learned that things are never as good as they seem and there will be another recession. And another, and another.

When I get a client, I am obsessive about keeping that person happy. I am obsessive about not blowing anyone off. I make sure our clients get responses quickly -- even if it’s just a “can’t help immediately but will call you back at …” I’m obsessive about not disrespecting our clients, our prospective clients and even the people who I know and have relationships with, client or not. I answer my emails. I return calls. And so do the people that work for me. I do this because it drives me nuts when people I know blow me off. 

This may be the Blow-Off Economy but that doesn’t mean we have to embrace it.

So, are you blowing off people you know? Just because you’re so, so busy? Well, be careful. Those are the people you’ll need the next time a downturn occurs. And trust me, it will happen.

Related: 10 Tips for Behaving as a Grown-Up Professional