Whose time do you value?


Share on LinkedIn

Recently, I made an appointment with my doctor and requested the first appointment of the day. I had a lot I planned to accomplish that day (and I hate to wait!). I was given the 9am appointment. First one! Perfect. When, on the day of my appointment, I arrived at the office five minutes early, however, the office was already full. Confused, I went to the front desk, let them know I was there, and asked about the full office. It was at this point I was told they routinely book twenty people for the first appointment every day! Furthermore, I was told not to expect the doctor until at least 10am; again standard procedure. In essence, I had to wait at least two hours before I’d actually be seen. Are you kidding me? This doctor’s standard procedures clearly demonstrated that he valued his time as being much more important than anyone else’s.

Before we believe this is an issue that only exists at this particular doctor’s office, or perhaps only exists at doctors’ offices in general, however, consider that perhaps most of us may not value our clients’ or colleagues’ time either. Don’t agree? Consider the following situations and ask yourself if any of these pertains to yourself or your company:

Being consistently late for meetings or appointments. Yes, we know you’re important, and everyone is occasionally late. However if you are habitually late, the message you send is that you are more important than everyone else. On those rare occasions when you are running late, call or send a message so others may not be waiting for you. Otherwise, make every effort to attend meetings or appointments on time.

Consistently running meetings that go over schedule. Similar to always being late if you are attending a meeting, if you are running a meeting, ensure your meetings start and end on time. Have an agenda and objectives and keep the meeting on track. Follow-up after the meeting with the agreed to deliverables, so everyone is on the same page.

Not taking into account the time sensitivity of a matter to your clients: My tax accountant this year was behind in his work. I understood that. However, I was getting a large refund! Although I’m sure people who needed to pay the IRS wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer for the final number, I most certainly did. Treating all of us the same, and processing everything in the order in which it came in was ludicrous.

Not meeting commitments: If you promise to deliver information, documents, or anything else for that matter, give your clients and colleagues a specific date and time as to when you will be able to deliver, and then meet that commitment. If for some reason you come across unforeseen circumstances that prevent you from meeting that time commitment, go back to the client or colleague as soon as you realize there is an issue. In no circumstance should the client or colleague need to remind you to deliver what you promised.

Implementing a prompt menu on the phone designed to ‘count’ calls, so employees are saved the time of categorizing calls. You know the phone messages: press 1 press 2 … press 103 …. Only simple menus should be considered acceptable and menu prompts only inserted to route calls to employees with different knowledge, skills or level of experience. In other words, only insert phone prompts when it benefits your clients, not yourself. Want to know why your callers are calling? Use a contact management system; don’t expect your clients to categorize the calls for you via your menu prompts.

Setting up phone coverage so there is a long queue waiting to speak to someone: Rather than staff contact centers adequately, some queues waiting to speak to someone border on the ridiculous. But don’t worry, because “Your call is important to them …”

Putting clients on hold without asking: Ask if you may put the call on hold before doing so (and wait for the response!). If it is going to take more than 30 seconds to research the answer, make the client aware of that and ask if they would prefer a call back. Even if the client agreed, after two minutes, give an update and be sure they’re still able to continue to hold. While on hold, play music, so the caller realizes you haven’t disconnected him or her. There are cost-effective methods to implement music-on-hold technology. I recommend Business Voice; a vendor with whom I’ve worked and known for years.

Valuing our clients time can be demonstrated in various ways, forms and formats. As for the doctor? That was the last time I went there. But the real question is this. Whose time do you value, your clients or your own?


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here