Time is money, and nowhere is that truer than in customer service. If you’re not respecting your customers’ time and valuing it as much as your own, your business, the experience it offers, and its bottom line will take a turn for the worst. However, if you respect your customers’ time, then your business will be one your customers return to…time and time again.
The Waiting Game
Have you ever sat at a restaurant, stirring the straw of your drink and wondering aloud when your food will be ready? Or waited in line at a retail store, bouncing from foot to foot, before deciding your money would be better spent elsewhere?
Slow service is one of the most repeated complaints on any Yelp review and for good reason. Nearly 50% of restaurant customers say they’ve waited 30 minutes for their meals.
When you’re delivering slow service, you’re showing your customers that you value your time more than theirs. This doesn’t only occur in the restaurant or retail industries. This happens in the automotive repair industry, the construction industry, and even the tech industry.
When meals take nearly an hour to be served, when a car is stuck in a garage for over a week, and when a department store doesn’t have enough registers to help customers get in and out, businesses aren’t respecting customers’ time. Instead, they’re saying: “So what if you have places you need to be? You’re on my time now.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are businesses that will do anything to rush customers out the door. Think of some fast food chains that practically throw your lukewarm hamburger at you in a brown paper bag. Or the mechanic that, after five minutes, insists that the squeaking noise coming from the hood of your car is nothing to worry about.
These businesses are also valuing their time over that of their customers. However, instead of saying “So what if you have places to be?” they’re saying “Go away. I have things to do.” In these cases, customer service becomes so rushed that mistakes are almost always made.
These companies are attempting to garner as much business as they can in as little time as possible, even if that means sacrificing customer service in the process. This may work in the short term, but it will never drive referrals or keep customers coming back.
It’s All Relative
So how can you find a comfortable middle ground in which the service you offer your customers is delivered in a manner that respects their time? How can you ensure that you’re not rushing customers out the door, yet not holding them hostage for hours on end?
It all comes down to the experience you offer, not so much the time it takes to deliver that experience. A friendly, smiling team, offering complementary goods in a clean, comfortable environment can make any frustrated customer delayed in a hotel lobby or restaurant happy. Meanwhile, a screaming staff, expensive goods, and an unkempt environment are sure to anger customers whether they’ve been in line 2 minutes or 2 hours.
So if your industry is one in which services will naturally take longer, make that time fly by offering customers free goods, a clean waiting area, and a caring team. If your business is one, like fast food, in which customers are rushed out the door, give these customers control by allowing them the opportunity to stay for as little or as long as they want in comfortable dining rooms or waiting areas. The newly renovated McDonald’s has accomplished this marvelously with free WiFi, warm fireplaces, and intriguing artwork guests can’t help but stare at.
Improving Your Process
Don’t forget to look at your business processes. If you’re valuing your own time over that of your customers, chances are it’s because your company itself is short on time. Where can your business processes be optimized, streamlined, or revised?
The time you save on the back-end should be visible on the front-end. If you’ve developed a process that will help your team cook food faster in the restaurant, send invoices sooner in the office, or ship packages out of the warehouse quicker, all of this saved time should be visible to your customers.
Don’t know where to start? FitSmallBusiness recently put together a list of 26 time management tips, techniques, and technology. Tracking your tasks, using your calendar, and automating your marketing communications can all help you take control of your own time so you can maximize that of your customers. Sometimes starting small is all it takes to make a big difference.
Technology is also a great way to help your team boost productivity and customer service. Our team at KDG can develop custom software to manage all of your processes, helping you deliver the best customer experience you can.
With the right technology at your side and the right process in place, you can take control of time and be its pilot without ever sacrificing the most valuable service you can offer your customers: a flawless experience.