19 Aug Effective time management for better customer experience
Effective personal time management is essential to delivering a better customer experience.
Delivering an excellent customer experience is difficult enough without the time pressures of modern workplaces. And although we are consistently told that the customer comes first, they are unfortunately not our only priority. We have other customers, we have colleagues to help, we have tasks to complete – often to assist other customers – and then of course there’s all that ‘admin’.
Even where everything you do ultimately helps customers somewhere, honing your time management skills can help you dramatically improve your customer service capabilities and deliver a superior customer experience.
The good news is that customers value their time as well, and most (not all) would prefer a prompt interaction or resolution. Providing an excellent customer experience should take on average less of your time rather than more of it. Some focus and discipline can go a long way.
Here are our time management tips for a superior customer experience:
Time management tips to deliver a better customer experience
1) Analyse your time for customer value. Look at your typical day/week/month in terms of where and how you spend your time. Much of this time will be spent directly delivering customer value and enhancing the customer experience. Some time will be spent on other tasks, still important, that indirectly deliver customer value. And then some (or quite a lot of) time will be spent on tasks or activities that create little or no value for the customer.
2) Create a to-don’t list. Take a look at those activities that add no client value: some meetings? some inefficient or unneccessary admin? Is there anything you can cut out with compromising on client value? DO IT! Ok, its not as easy as that but work on it, be assertive, fight the battles, change the system. Pay the price to buy yourself some time.
3) Identify quick client value wins. Delivering client value needn’t take a lot of time. Sometimes you can deliver value in just a few seconds. Catching a customer’s eye to check of they need help, liking one of their social media posts, sharing some insight or guidance. Identify where you can add client value quickly!
4) Plan your day to maximise customer value. For people with customer-facing roles, their days are typically a mix of different customer-facing activities, discussions with colleagues, and other desk-based or admin work. For maximum customer value, you should look to engage with customers when you are at your best, high-energy point. Some people are better in the morning, some people in the afternoon, some when they have cleared their desk of hassles. Develop an understanding of your own personal energy flows and try to engage with customers when you are at your best.
5) Say ‘no’ to colleagues and delegate Don’t spend your valuable time on colleagues priorities: your customers’ priorities are just as important. Learn how to say ‘no’ respectfully but assertively. Similarly, learn how to respectfully but assertively delegate tasks that aren’t your responsibility, or that don’t add client value
6) Set a timeframe for discussions with customers Do you ever get stuck with a ‘talker’? Building rapport is important, but endulging the customer once basic rapport has already been built shows a lack of discipline. Learn how to spot the signs of someone who might keep you longer than they need to. Then, in a friendly manner, set a loose timeframe for your discussion:
- “Yes, I can help with you that. If you can just help me with a few questions, we can sort that in five minutes for you”
- “Anyway, I’ll stop wasting your time and see if we can get this sorted in the next 2 minutes for you”
Don’t be embarrassed about using the customer’s time as a reason for keeping the conversation short. Most customers appreciate quicker service so there is no reason why this shouldn’t be your focus, provided you show respect in your language.
7) Be assertive with customers re deadlines Don’t let customers bully you into a stressful or unrealistic deadline for something. Push back respectfully so you can under-promise and over-deliver. Buy yourself some time by giving your own ‘can-do’ deadline (with a bit of padding).
8) Be assertive with colleagues re deadlines Do colleagues ever late you, and your customers, down with tardy responses to your requests? Don’t let them. Be assertive from the start and agree with your colleagues when they will get back to you with whatever you need to deliver customer value. This not only delivers value by saving the customer time, it will also save you time later on in having to chase up unresponsive colleagues.
9) Hone your listening skills and use clear, assertive language Misunderstandings and confusion cost time for both you and the customer. Minimise the risk of this by active listening without assumptions, and making sure your communications are as clear and unambiguous as possible. Seek clarification from the customer where necessary. Don’t make hasty assumptions about how the customer feels or what they want, just check you and the customer understand.
10) Challenge and change the system Are there any admin processes or workplace requirements that steal your time and stop you delivering customer value? Can you see a way to change the process or system and make it more efficient? Great, then do it. Challenge the boss, make recommendations. Accept responsibility and accountability for making things happen!
What time management tips do you have for enhancing the customer experience?
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