In today’s world of business speed is essential. Often the perception of speed is more important than speed itself.
Studies on the wait times and delays in service are very clear. The longer the delay in common events and everyday services the lower the perceived value. And by contrast, fast response is seen as an indication of a high quality organization.
Let me put that in perspective for you. The longer you wait on hold for the next service representative the less you like the company and the lower the value you put on the products and services you get from them.
This is a clear case of time does not equal money.
Have you phoned a company for service and got the message “we are experience higher than normal call volumes” and then they quote a wait time. Chances are they are not actually experiencing longer than normal wait time. Chances are it is the same time as always. This little lie is done for two reasons 1) to try to deflect you the waiting party from being annoyed with them 2) to give an excuse for their less than stellar response time.
Many of these same organizations set up the systems in place that deliberate say that it will take longer for them to get to your call than what they actually expect. That way the bar is set so low it is easier to be a bit faster. This not good expectation management.
While call centers are one aspect of this speed – value equation it is only one piece of a much larger situation. Being responsive to situations in a rapid fashion is seldom built into processes from the start. In fact most often organizations move the point of actual response away from the contact point where the response is required. This only adds time to the process and not value. How many time have you had to make multiple phone calls and wait while someone else agrees or goes off to seek higher authority. And then you have to explain the entire situation again in exhaustive detail.
Some key points to consider:
Every business has the opportunity to impress the hell out of your customers by being quick to respond. And not just with problems but with everything.
We have become so accustomed to waiting for nearly everything that anytime something is quick it stands out.
Big companies have a lot of inertia to overcome to speed up their processes so many small business have the advantage here. But this is a double edged sword. Many smaller businesses lack the processes and systematic thinking so to be fast everything has to be a one off. And it all requires either the owner or other entrepreneurial minded individual to do a lot of work.
For many customers slow equates to either a lack of care or a lack of competence. Neither one is something you can afford. Once you are seen to be slow and uncaring, or slow and incompetent it is hard to change that impression. The effort to overcome that reputation is 100 times greater than thinking through the situation in advance and trimming the process down to only the essential steps.
If it is part of your core business process then you should be working hard to cut the total response time down as far as humanly and systemically possible.
If it is an exception or problem condition then do everything in your power to prevent the problem in the first place.
In either case make sure you can set the expectations with your customers so they know how long it will take and why it takes as long as it does.
And never lie or make up excuses just work hard to be your best ans fastest