The Service Clock

The fact that time is a completely made-up component in nature was one of the hardest concepts to get your head around in high school physics class.  All of nature knows night from day, but your dog is clueless about what 9:30 means.  When we tell someone, “Why don’t we meet in an hour,” we are not only operating on a “made up” agreement regarding the precise moment of rendezvous, we are relying on a made up understanding of what “an hour” means.  The measurement of time is a non-existent construct we are taught from the instant we heard, “time for bed.”

Time has become a crucial component for customers’ expectations of “promises kept.” Blame it on FedEx, Netflix or Zappos, the fact is the old prompt is today’s super punctual.  Yesterday’s “in a hurry” is today’s “in a flash.”  We don’t fax documents anymore…it is way too slow.  We don’t learn about a service hiccup by reading the memo in our morning in-box, we get a text in the middle of the night.  We can’t wait for everyone to drive in to meet around a table, we “go to meeting” virtually on our PDA.

Time is illusory, but it is a piece of fiction that drives our lives and shapes our expectations.  We gauge wait and late, not by our biological clocks, but by our time-sensitive perception that “it’s taking too long.” It is embedded in the service covenant we make or imply when we serve.  It requires we stay “up to the minute” on what “time’s up” means to our customers.   What does time mean to your customers?

Don’t miss “7 Game Changing Customer Trends For 2011” by Adrian Ott in Fast Company.

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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