Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Chris LoCurto

By

August 18, 2011

Why Your Time Is So Important

August 18, 2011 | By | 17 Comments">17 Comments

Without customers, your business doesn’t exist. How about that for an opening sentence? You can make the greatest product in the world. If nobody buys it, though, you’re going to have a lot to give family and friends at Christmas.

Therefore, you need to take care of your customers. Make sure you always go above and beyond to show them their patronage is greatly appreciated. In Do You Really Care? I discussed how the smallest touch can tell your client how much you are focused on them instead of the bottom line.

But what happens when your product is in high demand? If you’re Apple, for example, then it’s easy. You continue to create a great product that causes demand through scarcity and urgency. It keeps the customer always coming back for more and willing to wait on the next latest, greatest thing you produce.

However, there are some high-demand businesses that have forgotten part of what customer service is all about. Take the medical field, for instance. I completely understand that if I’m sick, I need a doctor. If I’ve done a bad job taking care of my weight, I probably will want to see someone about my blood pressure.

What I find annoying is the treatment of their customers by so many working in the medical field. Somehow, it has become standard to set appointments with patients, and then leave them sitting in a waiting room for potentially hours. How is that OK?

When did it become acceptable to treat someone that way? Did they forget the people in the waiting room are actually paying for the visits? Well, you don’t understand, doctors are very busy, and it takes a lot of time with each patient. Great, then schedule accordingly. If you’ve been practicing for any length of time, you have a clue how long the issue at hand should take.

What’s my point? Imagine what would happen to your business if you did the same thing to your customers. Now think of something you do that is not up to the highest standard, simply because it has become acceptable. It used to be OK to have a drive-through line a mile long. Now, businesses like Chick-fil-A are realizing it’s not good enough, so they have team members out in the parking lot taking orders to speed things up.

Why? Because they understand that without the customer, they don’t have a business. And when a patron sees a line that will take most of their lunch hour, they’ll go somewhere else. It’s that simple.

Question: What are some of the fixes you see that businesses can make?

StumbleUponEmail
  • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

    I appreciated the post and very timely for me to be reading this tonight after having an excruciating work week.

    Our mortgage office has been flooded with calls/emails about potential home refinances – we had to enlist additional help to return e-mails/calls to our clients and/or potential clients – making sure that those clients are contacted immediately and know we want their business and we are making every effort to schedule appointments to meet with each within 24-48 hours of receiving the first contact.

    This has been tough! But the people who are contacting us are very sensitive to “TIME” – they feel they need to do something – NOW. They have reached out for advice/consultation and will be disappointed if they are not contacted in a timely manner.

    To accomplish that – we have had to double up for the last several days – work longer hours – move some team members around. BUT as you said – without customers – our business does not exist – and if we take care of our customers – the rest will follow.

    Time is precious – we should always remember that when working with our clients. Time is not money ……if you waste my money, I CAN make more. If you waste my time, it’s gone forever.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      We are huge at not working over the number of hours that you were hired for. But there are times that we say “the ox is in the ditch” where we need to dig in and get things done no matter what it takes. Taking care of people in their time of stress will definitely come back and bless you guys!

  • http://twitter.com/AccuContrive AccuContrive (@AccuContrive)

    Chris, thanks for your post.

    As Kim Little commented above, I figured out that my way to the next level in the IT world goes through super-responsiveness. The trigger to this understanding was Eric Lackey’s comment last month at http://chrislocurto.com/2011/07/14/lawyers-who-serve/ where he mentioned that even in a non-measurable world as IT is, responsiveness can still be measured.

    Now, that’s an interesting conflict between being super-responsive and the check-emails-only-twice-daily concept. So I realized that I do not have to be super-responsive for everyone, but to several Business Executives only. Michael Hyatt really helped me establishing this understanding, with his great post on 7/27/2011: http://michaelhyatt.com/are-you-a-responsive-person.html

    Next step was to write a small addin for Microsoft Outlook, that will popup with an alert only when emails from those Executives are coming in. This helped me being selectively super-responsive and still not being distracted by checking my inbox too often.

    I also figured out, that being super-responsive does not mean having a problem being taken care of right away. Even a short response like “I look at it right now; you can expect a response from me in 30 minutes” is acceptable, and guess what – appreciated [of course if there is indeed a follow-up in 30 minutes…]

    Since the beginning of August, the average response time to those Executives is under 4 minutes! what a big achievement. This is an interesting experiment: on the one hand, the immediate responses caused more work coming my direction, while on the other hand, it built tremendous trust during the last 2.5 weeks. Interesting to see how this will impact my world after several months of being consistent with this super-responsiveness.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I would love to hear how it goes. And as a leader, you have to love Michael’s stuff. Genius! There’s also a great book by Todd Duncan call Time Traps that focuses on cutting things out of your day that waste time.

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    Wow! This post struck home with several people. Some wrote mini-dissertations in response to it! I would add that people simply matter! When we begin to view customers as just a number then we are missing the point and heading in the wrong direction.

    • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

      You nailed it. I love business owners and teams who focus on meeting people’s needs. Every single COULD take that approach but so many choose not to or never even think of it. They simply see people as sources of income…period.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      We always say around here, if you take care of the people, all the rest will follow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077115011 Colette Marx

    Really good points Chris. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a doctor’s waiting room with sick kids ~ waiting. Not fun. I do understand that there will be certain instances that will back an office up, but every time I’m there? I have since switched doctors to someone else that doesn’t have that chronic problem.

    What I think it boils down to is taking care of the “little people” just like they’re “big people”. By that I mean is doing what you can to help them feel important too.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s exactly it.

  • Greg LeBre

    In my chiropractic office,I aim for ‘seen in 15″. The patients know this and I schedule accordingly. Yesterday the first patient had severe neck spasms that needed extra attention, I explained this to the next patient who also needed some extra attention, then a walk in with a new problem. Need less to say things got backed up, but my patients know that this is not the norm, that there was a reason and that they would receive the same additional care if needed. I always explain what happened so they don’t feel ignored. What amazes me is that the guy down the street stacks them up 8 at a time and they sit in the lobby waiting. He’s busier than I am as they go to him thinking ‘he must be good, his parking lot is full’. How do we get past that when people ‘hate to wait’ but have this full parking lot mentality? How can I get this point across to more people to fill my office?

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Now that’s when it’s ok. When things get backed up and someone in the office is explaining what’s going on. That’s why Southwest is able to get away with being late once in a great while. They aren’t most of the time, and when they are, they communicate early and often.

      As for combating the other doc, you need to constantly be marketing your “our goal is seen in 15” motto to all customers and in your advertising. Get them to spread it by word of mouth. Get testimonies of people saying how they didn’t have to wait like other doctor’s offices.

    • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

      Greg – if there was a doctor – or chiropractor – in my area that advertised “seen in 15” – he would get my business! People will spread your message, as Chris said. That is outstanding service in these times.

  • Kim Little

    In my world, my communication with my clients is via e-mail and phone only. Therefore, I make it my personal mission to return phone calls and e-mails immediately….it’s kind of hard to super serve when I don’t have direct contact, so this is my way to super serve them. I do this so often, it has just become the way I work….so it’s unnatural to me to let an e-mail sit and wait for an answer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients tell me THANK YOU for responding so quickly. I guess the way I see it is, they e-mail me wanting an answer. And they probably want that answer right now….so I do my best to do that for them.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s the way to do it!

  • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

    Great post, Chris! Story time! I had a conversation recently with a friend who owns a small law practice in Franklin, TN. He wanted some help with marketing ideas. After 45 minutes of chatting, we determined a simple strategy to set him apart from his competition. See, he’s a bankruptcy attorney. You may think, why even try to separate yourself? When people need to file bankruptcy, (or get sick in your example), they’ll find an attorney, right? Just make yourself available. Who cares about service because they have no choice, right? Wrong. People in dire straits are stressed. The last thing they want to deal with are lawyers who are going to overcharge them and take more of the money they don’t have. This isn’t a knock on lawyers, but lawyers, like PR people such as myself, have to overcome popular, unflattering stereotypes at times. Not everyone has a lawyer friend like the one I’m writing about here and knows so many lawyers are great people. Therefore, my friend is working to position himself as a lawyer who is more interested in helping you never reach bankruptcy by offering financial assistance, sharing great tips and advice from people like Dave Ramsey, and other tactics. In short, he’s bucking the stereotype and communicating trust by putting you in front of him and his way of living. And yes he’s sincere in his effort, it’s not a front. That’s key.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That is awesome! That kind of service is what brings people to you. I was going to say brings them back, but with a bankruptcy lawyer that’s not the main goal.

      • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

        Exactly. In that line of business, akin to the Dave Ramsey organization, you best serve people by trying to put yourself out of business. Sadly, it’s like swimming upstream but you’ve made an impact by just throwing yourself into the current.