• Service Essentials – Managing Customer Perceptions of Time

    Service Essentials


    Time is measurable – there are 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day

    However, our perception of time varies

    Sometimes time seems to drag, while at other times it goes quickly

    We can keep our customers happy by managing their perceptions of how long it will take to get things done

    If you are a customer, time will start to drag if your service provider is late on delivering on the promise

    Time will drag more and more the longer the delay

    The simple and low cost way of making time fly in your customer’s eyes is to keep them informed of progress

    This is a simple, but often forgotten solution!

    In this article, I am going to share with a simple, no-cost technique to create happier customers

    This technique applies to business-to-business, retail and on-line relationships

    Now that I have your attention, I am going to ask you a simple question: Is it possible for a customer service person to be nice to the customer, to do everything that can be done to help the customer, including solving the customer’s problem…and for the customer to still be dis-satisfied? The short answer is “yes!”

    Let’s look at the world that we live in

    In the age of the internet and instant gratification, speed is the new currency of success

    Customers want things done quickly

    In fact, taking a leaf from Brian Tracy’s teachings, you will increase your “service IQ” if you are able to do things quickly

    Your customers will think that you are a smart supplier or service provider if you can do things with speed

    And if you cannot do things as quickly as you or your customers would like, you can still maintain a high service IQ score by managing customer perceptions of time

    Let me explain

    Speed is the new currency of success 

    I was sitting at a customer help desk of a bank branch in KL

    In front of me was a very pleasant customer service representative

    I wanted to open a new account

    He was very friendly

    We went through the forms and he explained what I had to do

    So far, so good

    He asked for my passport, and then got up from behind his desk and disappeared somewhere into back-of-office

    I wasn’t sure what he was doing as he hadn’t explained it to me

    This was okay, as he came across as an efficient person

    I waited, and waited… After 10 minutes I started to fidget

    At 12 minutes I was starting to get edgy

    “What is taking him!” I thought to myself

    Every minute that passed from that point seemed like 5

    Time was really starting to drag, as my focus shifted from “He is nice and efficient” to “Why is he so inefficient?”

    Before I go any further, I would like to take you backstage into the shoes of this customer service executive

    This young guy was doing everything right

    He may have had to make photocopies and then make a call to head office on my behalf

    There might have been a delay getting through to the right person at HQ, so he may have had to wait

    He was doing everything perfectly well behind the scenes, just as he had in front of me

    So why was I upset with this person, despite him doing the right thing?

    While the number of seconds in a minute is fixed, human perceptions of time are not 

    The short answer is that he did not manage my perception of time

    He did not say to me, “I have to do some paperwork and then call head office

    I should be back in 10 minutes

    Sometimes it takes up to around 15 minutes

    Are you okay to wait? I can give you the local  newspaper to read…” Had he done this, do you think that my wait would have seemed as long? I don’t think so

    While the number of seconds in a minute is fixed, human perceptions of time are not

    For example, every parent shudders when their young or adolescent children utter the dreaded words, “I’m bored!” The children are saying that time is dragging for them and it is not a pleasant experience for them! Or you might recall, when nervously waiting for exam results, that every minute of waiting, every hour, seemed to drag on

    Time is fixed, but the perceptions of time are not

    I had an IT service provider who was a really nice guy

    When he was in front of me, he was top class

    He was technically proficient and got the job done

    The only problem was that he did not deliver on time

    If he was late for a 3 p


    meeting at our office, I would give him 30 minutes benefit of the doubt (traffic, of course!) but after 30 minutes, my waiting time as a customer started to drag

    And as time dragged on, I became more and more unhappy

    We are doing renovations to an apartment

    As a part of this process, we were referred to an interior designer

    We met this person at the apartment on a Saturday

    She got extra points for devoting part of her Saturday to us

    She walked through the apartment with us and seemed to know what she was talking about

    She had built my trust during that 45 minute meeting

    As we parted company, she said that she would get a quote back to us in 2 weeks

    As you might have guessed, 2 weeks turned into 3 weeks, and this eventually turned into a very long 5 weeks

    Her “service IQ” had dropped considerably in our eyes

    The difference between her building our trust and losing our trust was a 60 second phone call! 

    After mentioning our concern to the person who referred this consultant to us, we received an apologetic phone call, asking us to meet the next Saturday

    The only problem is that we are not sure if we can trust the reliability of this interior designer

    All she had to do was to keep us informed as to what was happening

    The difference between her building our trust and losing our trust was a 60 second phone call!

    So, here is the simple, no-cost tip to creating happy customers: make sure that their perceptions of time with you flies

    You do this by communicating what you have to do and how long it will take

    And, if you are in the business to business market or on-line markets, keep them informed on progress – even if everything is progressing to schedule

    My sister-in-law recently ordered a book on-line

    She got an email within 12 hours, saying that her book had been despatched and that it normally would take 48 hours for delivery

    She was totally relaxed with this news – and the book arrived on time

    Your mission for the month is to meet with your team to brainstorm ways to give better service by making their perceptions of time fly

    You will be surprised at what your time comes up with! Until next edition

    A version of this article was first published in Berita BMCC, the Official Magazine of the British-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce March-April, 2011


    Share the knowledge! Please feel free to share this knowledge

    You have permission to distribute and copy this article providing you acknowledge George Aveling, CEO of TMI, as the owner of the copyright

    Ask TMI 

    Ask TMI how we can increase the “service IQ” of your organisation

    Our focus is on change at individual, team and organisational levels

    5 reasons to call TMI Consultancy

    1. Powerfully effective Intellectual Property: We have 2 strong international consulting & training companies under our umbrella — TMI & TACK International.
      You will have access to a wide range of World Class consulting & learning solutions, customised for Malaysian companies.

    2. Our focus is on YOU.

    3. You will find that we listen first and then work with you to co-create a solution for your needs

    4. Our solutions include consulting, workshops, training, measurement processes and workplace learning processes

    5. Focus on ROI for your organisation: We focus on implementation and change in the workplace, at personal, team or organisational level.
    © TMI Malaysia Sdn Bhd 2012. All rights Reserved || Keep up to date with TMI and Brainfood by Subscribing to us! || Site by Valence.my