Part Two: Timing is everything
Column by JAY PERRY
In this article we are going to focus on the second of three fundamentals we must establish with each customer in order that we deliver a product or service that is going to fully satisfy the customer.
As each of you leaders know, the customer’s expectations continue to escalate to new heights. Nowhere is that more evident than in the area of time. In this age of instant gratification, time is the premium commodity and carries great weight. As illustration, how many times have you received an email that you intend to answer very shortly only to be interrupted by a phone call or a text asking if we received the email? People want everything, and they want it now.
There are processes to everything. It is unlikely your customer is aware of such processes. After all, you are the expert and know what must be done. They are not. I’ll give you an example, again from my days in collision repair, where a customer looks at an estimate projecting costs of a repair. On that estimate is a listing of the various operations that must be executed to complete a safe and proper repair. Once a customer seeing 24 hours in estimated labor assumed that the job could be repaired from 9 a.m. one day to 9 a.m. the next day. It wasn’t their fault they misunderstood the meaning the phrase 24-hours; they are not the expert.
They did not understand the processes of procurement, preparation, drying-times, movement, and positioning, etc. that goes into a 24-hour repair. What the customer likely doesn’t know is that it takes four to six days to execute a repair of this magnitude. This highlights what is absolutely necessary for a successful transaction: education.
This education takes time and patience on our part because we are dealing with people that don’t know the intricacies of what we are doing. You are working with a neophyte with whom you must still maintain and display a great deal of respect.
This is the area of the customer relationship that takes the most skill. We must keep them onside with us, building trust, and show them we know more than they do so they should listen to us. Simply telling them to trust you will not work.
How many of your team members have those needed qualities? They can be learned if you provide appropriate training and development.
Another aspect to timeliness of delivery is the current supply-chain problems that almost every industry is facing. From computer chips to corn chips, supply-chain issues impact us and our ability to deliver in a timely, customersatisfying way. This is something that you must communicate as a reason—not an excuse! More education of the customer is needed if we want to be successful. Take the time to search and get commitments from suppliers on delivers prior to committing to your customer. Ask for permission to take longer than what they are used to waiting. It is a part of the way we stay the one who’s driving!
JAY PERRY is the founder of Ally Business Coaching, a process improvement and leadership development firm, and co-author of the book Success Manifesto with Brian Tracy. Jay is also an education partner with California Coast University in Santa Ana, California. He can be reached at email@example.com.