What Does Time Mean to Your Customers?



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 of customers’ expectations of “promises kept.” Blame it on FedEx, Netflix or Amazon, 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 inbox, 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 laptop or smartphone. Today’s customers want service super-fast, super- easy and they want it 24 x 7 x 365 days.

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?

Be sure to check out Chip’s recent post, Success is Living Like Your Cat.