GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
Customers don’t want to wait. Specifically, they don’t want you to waste their time. If you do make them wait, you risk losing them. Making your customers wait sends the message that you don’t respect them or their time.
Jay Baer, a customer experience and marketing expert, proves this in his latest study, The Time to Win, which measures the impact of speed and responsiveness on customer experience and loyalty.
Just how important is speed? Consider these findings from Baer’s report:
- Two-thirds of customers say speed is as important as price.
- More than half of the customers surveyed hired the first business to respond to their requests, even if it was more expensive.
- Half of all customers will not wait more than three minutes in a store.
I had a chance to interview Baer on Amazing Business Radio, where he shared some important insights that should be considered. Here are six of my favorites, followed by my commentary:
- Speed is the most important component of customer experience and the only one that never pauses or goes backward – Calling it the most important component of the customer experience is bold, but consider a key finding from the report: 50% of customers are less likely to spend money with a business that takes longer to respond than they expect. Baer says, “Customers’ expectations for speed and responsiveness escalate every year without fail.”
- Everyone has the same amount of time, 1,440 minutes a day, and there is nothing we can do to get more – Time is the same for everyone. Nobody gets more than anyone else. It has nothing to do with being rich, poor, young or old. And once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. Starting with that premise, business leaders should ask themselves, “What can we do to make sure we’re not to blame for wasting our customers’ time?”
- Age makes a difference – In our interview, I was surprised when Baer shared the generations that were most and least patient. I would have thought Baby Boomers (the older generation) would have been more patient, but I was wrong. Gen-Z is the most patient generation. Boomers are the least patient. The point is to know your customers. Who do you cater to? Understand the demographics and improve your response time accordingly.
- The first company that responds to a customer has an incredible advantage – If your company is the first to respond, you could win the customer’s business, regardless of price. Specifically, 53% of consumers hired the first business that responded to them. Customers want to make decisions and move on. If you give them what they want, they can skip the hassle and time of comparing all the competition.
- Fast response impacts your bottom line – Just as customer service and convenience make price less relevant, so does quick response or fast service. The research found that customers would pay an average of 19% more for “always immediate service,” which includes no waiting in line, not waiting on hold, etc. In other words, customers put a premium on speed. It’s about convenience. Furthermore, 27% of customers are more likely to spend money when the brand responds faster than expected.
- Right now is not really right now – As customers’ expectations and their need for speed increase, the concept of “right now” can seem daunting. According to Baer, the concept of “right now” is the optimal amount of elapsed time in every customer interaction throughout the entire customer journey. If that sounds technical, here’s a simpler way of putting it: “Right now” is simply slightly faster than the customer expected.
With only 1,440 minutes available each day, customers want to devote as few minutes as possible to waiting, as Baer’s research proves. This is so important that people will pay more for it. The security lines in airports are perfect examples of this. If you’ve taken a flight in a major U.S. airport, you’ll notice three lines to get through security. The TSA security line is for most passengers. This is free. Then there is TSA PreCheck. For a small investment of $78 (which covers you for five years), you can get pre-qualified to use a shorter line where you don’t have to take your computer out of your bag, take off your shoes, and more. And for a bit more money, you can sign up for CLEAR, which allows you to jump to the front of the TSA lines.
Baer’s research makes an important point. If you want a competitive edge in business, respect your customer’s time. Don’t make them wait. Respond quickly to their questions, requests, and problems. Find ways to incorporate speed into your customer experience and you’ll reap the benefits of returning customers who spend more and say, “I’ll be back!”
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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