One of the best ways you can show respect for clients and others is by respecting their time. Time is in limited supply for all of us, so don’t waste theirs–or yours.
Think about the cable company. What do people hate about them? OK, lots of things. But usually right at the top of the list is, “We will be out Tuesday, between 8 a.m. and infinity.” Customers have to set aside an entire day for installation or repair. And everyone has things they would rather do than wait for the cable guy.
Lots of other businesses waste our time, too. Don’t let yours be one of them.
Be on time. Show up for client meetings early (but not too early). Honor appointment times. Start on time. I teach a lot of classes, and I always start on time, even if several students have not arrived. It annoys me when an instructor, speaker or other group leader starts late because some people aren’t there. Some of us are. We got there on time, so start already.
End on time, too. If the meeting is scheduled for an hour, make it an hour. Not ninety minutes, not two hours. One hour. Or less. If you really want to make people happy, take less time than they expect.
Don’t make things harder than they have to be. I don’t know if any of these places are still in business, but there used to be a chain of stores where you chose the items you wanted, filled out an order form, got in line to pay, then waited for them to pick your merchandise and call you to pick it up. Pick something up, drop it in your cart, check out and leave? Nah, everybody does that. We’ll be different.
Operate for customers’ convenience, not yours. That might mean changing your hours, so they can come in after work or on the weekends. Offering financing or payment terms. Or accepting the payment method they prefer. Or changing how you provide support.
Don’t over commit. Years ago, I owned a car by a brand that had very few dealer service departments—but these cars needed a lot of service. A simple fix that took an hour or so meant that the car was at the dealership for days. Finally, I made a deal with the service department. “How about if I pretend that I brought the car in today, and you put it in line for service? Then, in two or three days, when you are actually going to work on it, you can call me and I will bring the car in.” Amazingly, they agreed. I went without my car for one day instead of three. Why didn’t they do that for everyone? It goes back to the idea of honoring appointments.
Time is our most valuable asset. Value your customers’ time at least as much as you value your own.