Time is money, especially in business. Take too long to serve your customers and chances are they won’t come back. Rush them out the door and you’re basically telling them there are more important things you have to do.
There’s a fragile balance you have to strike to ensure you’re offering customers the experience they want and deserve.
Putting the Customer First
The number one rule in nearly every business is “The customer comes first,” and time is the most important measurement when it comes to gauging whether or not your business is succeeding.
Make your customer feel important through time. Work too slowly—whether you’re delivering food, scanning groceries, or replying to an email—and you’re telling your customers, “You’re on my time now.”
We’ve all experienced slow service, whether we’re standing in line at a retailer or waiting impatiently for our mechanic to finish our car repair. We can’t help but feel frustrated, anxious, and undervalued.
Likewise, perhaps we’ve experienced service where we’ve been ushered in and out the door without even a muttered hello. These interactions don’t leave us feeling our best. Customers should never be treated as if their presence is a burden.
How can your business strike the perfect chord between these two extremes?
How customers perceive your business all comes down to the experience you offer, not so much the time it takes you to deliver that experience. After all, time is relative.
Waiting in a fast-food restaurant surrounded by screaming children and your shoes sticky with the remnants of a spilled milkshake can make a two-minute wait seem like two hours. Meanwhile, relaxing in a dim lounge with the tune of a piano carrying over the sounds of engaged conversation may make a two-hour meal feel like two minutes.
When it comes to how a customer interacts with your company, there are positive and negative drivers that impact, not the amount of time they’ve actually spent with you, but the amount of time they feel like they’ve spent with you.
Make two hours feel like two minutes by…
- Offering good customer service (E.g. smiling employees)
- Providing complementary goods (E.g. free appetizers or drinks at a restaurant and free baked goods or coffee at a retail store or bank)
- Creating a calming ambiance (E.g. soothing music, comfortable seating, engaging pictures, or a television in the waiting room)
- Visibly showing effort
Meanwhile, you make two minutes feel like two hours by…
- Providing bad customer service (E.g. rude employees)
- Charging a cost for any and every interaction (E.g. charging for the bread at a restaurant)
- Creating a poor ambiance (E.g. loud music, bright lights, or screaming employees)
- Not showing effort
You’re the Pilot
When it comes to time, you’re the pilot. You control how much time goes into each interaction you have with your customers. You can make them feel important by utilizing the positive drivers mentioned above, or you can shuffle them out the door (though we can’t guarantee they’ll ever come back).
Time can’t be controlled, regardless of how many science fiction films say otherwise. However, with the right drivers in place and the right technology by your side, you can make time fly and customer experience soar.
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