Got Some Time to Kill?

I really hate waiting.

I read somewhere recently that people who are poor at time management are that way in part because they don’t want to show up early for things and then have to wait, so they try to shave everything down to the split second and arrive EXACTLY on time.  Of course, life intervenes and they end up late.  So the advice of this article was to arrange your life to be early for everything.  Then, if something happens to delay you, you will still be on time.  If no delays occur, you will be early and have to wait a bit, but you should EMBRACE that time.  You should cherish the free time that has been granted you and savour it in a zen-like state.

The part about planning to be early is great advice, but cherishing wasted time is hogwash.  As I wrote about here, most of us in North America grew up in a culture where sitting idle is nearly a sin.  Whether that’s good or bad, it’s my reality, and I really really don’t like someone else’s incompetence or thoughtlessness or disregard for the value of my time to cost me any of it. 

Two examples of this occurred recently: I was buying furniture on the weekend and my credit card was declined.  (Mastercard noticed that I had made a large furniture purchase the previous weekend, too, and had put one of those cautionary holds on my account.  I was able to get it unlocked in one call.)  When I called to clear it up, the IVR system played me some kind of ad for some new service before it would let me proceed.  Now, someone calling the number on the back of their card is unlikely to be looking for anything other than rapid assistance – why waste their time with an interruption marketing message?  Then, I had to enter my card number on the phone’s touch pad.  Of course, the first thing the human I eventually spoke with asked me was my card number.  Why bother with the touch pad entry?

The other was the first furniture purchase.  They were throwing in a coffee table for free.  (Great!)  Then, because this caused such a kaffufle with their payment processing system, it took about 30 minutes for them to take my money.  Can’t you shield the customer from this sort of systemic inefficiency?  Run my card, get my signature, then figure out how to put it into the computer after I’m gone.

What sparked this rant was a post at Seth’s blog. It’s really bad marketing to value your customers’ time less than your own.

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4 Responses to “Got Some Time to Kill?”

  1. netdud Says:

    I HATE when people are early. I freely admit that I am pretty consistently late for things, but that’s not why I dislike early so much.

    If someone says that they are going to be at my house at 7 PM, I’m going to (try to) be ready for 7PM. If they are late, then I have more time. If they are early, then I have to spend time making sure that they are taken care of while I do whatever I have left to do. And that will take longer, more distracted, and less efficient at the things I need to do in order to get rolling. And we will be later. It works out worse for all involved.

    Now, if I worked in an office, and I had somewhere for people to wait and someone to tell them to do so, I wouldn’t mind when people showed up. I’d actually find it gratifying if they were able to unwind and relax for a bit.

    If I were in a situation in which time was tight, and the best use of it was to get in, get stuff done, and get on to the next thing, then I can see the PURELY FUNCTIONAL value of punctuality.

    Punctuality is not a virtue though. It’s just something that can be useful. And being early is not the same as being super-extra-bonus-points-punctual+8.

    There’s a disturbing trend towards showing up early, whipping out the laptop/phone/Crackberry/personal massager, and Getting Things Done while waiting. Then, when the person you were supposed to meet arrives (on time or otherwise), you hold up the One Finger Of I’m Doing Something More Important and say you’ll be a second.

    If I had an office, and someone pulled this on me, I’d point to the Receptionist Of Make Another Appointment When You Can Actually Do This, then go back to my office and be really clever on the Internet in the time I just freed up.

    As it is, I just comfort myself by living somewhere that has horrible cell reception.

  2. Clayton Morrissey Says:

    Time is the final frontier. Completely untapped by marketers and retailers.

    You’re always guaranteed to hit a huge bottleneck trying to check out of places like Walmart, Costco, Superstore etc because they just don’t get it (yet). Slash your prices to get me into the store, but if you want me to come back, put some effort into getting me the hell out of there when I want to pay and leave.

    Sure, some may advertise that they’ll open another checkout if there are more than 3 people in line but how many times have you seen it actually happening?

    The cashier is the most important employee in the store. They are the last point of contact and many times the only point of contact. If they don’t give me 100% satisfaction, that’s what I remember, not the discount price I paid. They need to be accurate, fast and friendly; in that order. I won’t be offended if they don’t make small talk with me, if I know they’re trying to get rid of me for my benefit, not just their own.

    So train every single employee; from Manager to floor sweeper, to be able fill in as a competent cashier at a moment’s notice, when they see that it’s needed. Opening a new register doesn’t have to be a 5 minute procedure of adding a float either. You can open a credit or debit only line, instantly.

    One day, when competing on price won’t cut it any more, retailers are going to realize that they’ll have to compete on service too and that means respecting my time by not stealing it from me for the privilege of giving them my cash.

    Vote with your dollar. If the service isn’t up to par, go somewhere else. Eventually, it will make a difference.

  3. Stephen Brooks Says:

    Holy manifesto, Batman!

    Way to tell it like it is, brother Clayton.

  4. Clayton Morrissey Says:

    Sorry about that , I realized about 2/3 through the rant, that I was hijacking your post rather than simply commenting. (yet I kept on going…)

    Thanks for the feature. I’ll try to be brief in the future and save the rants for my own blog.

    CM


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