In a recent posting, I told you about the “30 something” tax attorney who was dealing with unrealistic expectations form his clients. They wanted everything done “yesterday” even though they didn’t tell him about it until today! He had some good advice for everyone using the services of not just attorneys, but all service providers, and I want to paraphrase some of those suggestions and share them with you.

One of the first things he suggested was to think through questions you may have regarding your situation. To the best of your ability consider everything that may have an effect on your question. This takes time. Don’t do this as you dial the number or compose the e-mail, but rather set aside time to thoughtfully think through your situation.

Write down the questions and the possible answers that you come up with. Sometimes by going through this exercise you may discover other options to consider, which will help you improve communication with the service provider.If there are others involved, such as family members, then be sure to have all necessary information readily available like full names, SS #s and dates of birth.If your question is related to your business have necessary information available.

When you have prepared and are ready to make the call or send the e-mail, realize that the recipient may have a very full schedule and may not be able to respond to you immediately. Allow for a reasonable amount of time to pass before following up on your service request. Sometimes the office assistants will be able to help you with your question or will be able to tell you when to expect a return call or message reply.

Most importantly, do not procrastinate! No matter the type of service provider, there is little that can be done in a timely manner if you wait until the last minute to make the call, or send the message. If at all possible, plan ahead. When you don’t, your stress is increased, the service provider’s stress level increases, late fees increase, and your bill is increased when things are postponed until the last minute. If you will initiate service when there is time to consider options carefully, you will almost always be more satisfied with the outcome.