March 30, 2017
I arrived on time for my doctor’s appointment. The receptionist greeted me warmly and said, “You can go ahead and have a seat.”
Thirty minutes later, I was still on that seat, waiting patiently to see the doctor. When I inquired as to how much longer it would be, she said, “It’s been awhile since you last saw the doctor so we had to send someone down to the records room to get your file.”
“I made the appointment a month ago. Couldn’t they have tracked down my file before this morning?” I asked.
“Well, we have it now so you’ll be seen next.”
Another 15 minutes passed and I was getting annoyed. I approached the desk and explained that I had been waiting 45 minutes. The receptionist turned to her co-worker and asked why my name hadn’t been called. The co-worker replied, “Oh, I thought you told me she had left.”
Even though the doctor was great, I left his office steaming about how much of my time had been wasted by his staff. Most customers have a very low threshold for people who waste their time. With insanely busy schedules, people view time as a precious resource.
Here are 5 ways to show your customers that you value their time:
1. Manage your own time. Learn to work efficiently. Complete tasks that do not require immediate attention during times that do not impact your customers.
2. Identify and remove activities that are time-wasters for your customers. For example, if customers are required to fill out forms, send them out prior to their appointment so they can complete the paperwork at their convenience.
3. If your customers do need to wait or are placed on “hold” for a long time, provide value for them. This could be in the form of helpful tips they can listen to while on the phone. Or placing educational brochures and informational magazines in a waiting area.
4. Be sensitive to your customers’ time. Ask them if they are in a hurry. Explain the steps you will be taking to assist them and let them know how long each step will take. Customers are far more patient when they understand the reasons for the delays (as long as they are legitimate reasons).
5. Don’t make excuses or brush off your customers’ concerns about time. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know you will do everything you can to take care of their service requests quickly and professionally.
Some customers will be forgiving and give a business two or three chances before they decide that their time is more valuable than the service they have received. Most will not.