Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Time is money.” However, from the perspective of your business, does the time you spend with subscribers really drive financial benefit?
For most companies, the connection between customer time and business results depends on whether customers describe interactions as worthwhile. For example, healthcare research indicates that—when doctors are viewed as caring, attentive, and educational—patients under-report wait time, over-report face-to-face time, and are more loyal to the physician.
So, what can you do to drive loyalty and make the most of the time your team spends with your subscribers? Let’s focus on four themes.
- Honor your subscribers’ time—Forrester’s research has shown that 73 percent of online consumers report “valuing their time” is the most important action a business can take to improve service. Being on time and prepared for customer meetings, reducing wait times, decreasing customer effort, and getting service right the first time demonstrates customer respect. That respect, in turn, converts to customer trust and loyalty.
- Be efficient but not rushed—Customers leave businesses when they feel their time is wasted or service interactions seem rushed. Poorly managed customer contacts can make a 10-minute service call feel like it lasted an hour. Conversely, a service professional might spend ample time with a customer but be perceived as rushing if the provider is preoccupied or multi-tasking. Customer perceptions of “quality time” require team members to efficiently form a personal emotional connection, swiftly identify needs, and urgently seek to resolve those needs. Encourage your team to ask subscribers if there is anything else they can do to further serve them before ending the interaction.
- L.E.A.D. value during the subscriber interaction—In my book Driven to Delight, I explore how leaders at Mercedes-Benz USA increased perceived value during customer interactions. Mercedes-Benz’s approach involved four steps reflected in the acronym L.E.A.D. (Listen, Empathize, Add value, and Delight). During all interactions, team members were trained to demonstrate active listening skills (e.g., restating and paraphrasing), show a desire to understand the customer’s emotional experience, take immediate value-adding action, and wrap up the customer contact by doing something positively unexpected.
- Consider the customer’s time ROI—The ancient Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, observed that “time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” Today, time is social currency, and your subscribers are calculating if their time was well invested or wasted. Moreover, subscribers readily share their conclusions across social media. As such, you might think about what you hope customers will say about their time and interactions with you and your team. Use those desired words to help your team prepare for successful interactions. Ask subscribers about what they feel they gain from investing time with you and your team, and use that feedback to guide team behavior.
As a customer-centric leader, you know that time is a precious asset for your team members and subscribers, but how will you deploy your time to improve the way your team members engage? Your efforts will assuredly produce greater subscriber retention and referrals.
Benjamin Franklin was right when it comes to business: customer time is money. Spend that time wisely and purposefully!
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., is a certified customer experience professional, business consultant, and author of 10 books spotlighting brands like Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz, and Zappos. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn.