The phrase, “If you snooze, you lose” turns out to be true in the realm of customer service. Among the many tools and tactics a company can use to improve the customer experience, speed is the most overlooked.
“That’s unfortunate because a major factor in creating a positive customer experience is speed,” says customer service expert John Tschohl, author of “Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service” and president of Service Quality Institute, www.customer-service.com
Tschohl, who presents strategic keynote speeches about the customer experience to high-level executives at major companies throughout the world, says there are three major obstacles to improving the customer experience through speed:
- Employee mindset. If an employee has four days to do a task, they will take four days to do the task. In fact, they won’t get started until the fourth day! And then they will usually not finish the task because they need help from another employee who called in sick or is otherwise unavailable.
- Company policies. Many companies have policies that slow down tasks that could be completed quickly and easily. They might require two or three sets of eyes and signatures for approval before a task could be completed when one set of eyes is really enough. Companies must eliminate policies and procedures that add to the cost and time of a task. That’s because every time another set of hands touches a document, the company spends money. When you buy an Apple product in their stores you will see speed.
- Disregard for the customer experience. In today’s world, customers want it now. They won’t wait in a doctor’s office for an hour. They won’t stand on long lines. If they can’t get something quickly, they will go to another provider.
Companies that understand the need for speed can profit greatly. Southwest Airlines’ planes have a 20-minute turnaround. Because of this speed, they need fewer planes, which saves them billions of dollars. As a result, they have been profitable for 40 years while competitors in their industry have posted huge losses, he said.
“In today’s competitive world, if you snooze, you lose. Customers want everything faster,” said Tschohl, who delivers training programs to health care organizations and hospitals in the U.S., Russia, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Every employee needs to figure out where they can improve speed without foregoing quality. You can never compromise quality.
“If you want to differentiate your company in the marketplace, then you need to show how you can dramatically deliver service and products faster than your competitors,” said Tschohl.
Fortunately, companies can create a new mindset:
- Create a culture for the need for speed. If the employees realize the importance of speed, they will get the job done faster.
- Customer service is a skill. It can be taught. And it should be taught every four months with new and interesting materials to keep employees fresh and engaged.
- Modify policies that are speed traps. The lack of speed can cost a company a lot of money.