The adage, “Time is money,” is quickly becoming, “Every second of delay means thousands of dollars in lost revenue” — especially for fast food retailers. Shaving off less than 10 seconds from customer wait times adds 1 percent to a fast food company’s market share, a 2012 study by the Kellogg School of Management found. Consumers are willing to pay more for shorter wait times. When they have to wait, even a few seconds, the perceived value falls sharply.
Top-level managers use creative techniques and tools to ensure customers receive fast, efficient service. Outsourcing quality control audits, installing online chat features and implementing rewards programs to motivate employees to perform better are three strategies management can use to improve customer experience.
Quality Review Audits
The digital age of instant access to everything online creates a wave of expectations that permeate customer service across all industries, from travel to medicine. Responding to the need for speed, business owners may turn to mystery shopping companies, such as Market Force and Shoppers, Inc., to conduct covert visits to time customer experiences and identify inconsistency that reduces employee efficiency.
Building brand loyalty is critical to continued success. Customers who receive quality products backed by superior customer service are converted into repeat buyers. They also recommend their favorite companies to friends and family. If customers are unhappy with the service they receive, most report negative feelings to at least 10 other people, Shoppers, Inc. reports. Hiring objective observers removes bias that often occurs with in-house auditors.
Online Customer Service
To better serve existing customers and respond to inquiries from potential customers, many companies have shifted toward online customer support services. Online features make sense in a society where 98 percent of adults ages 18-24 and 82 percent of adults ages 55-64 use the Internet, according to a 2011 report released by Experion Simmons.
Providing an application to chat live with a company representative reduces time spent in completing orders and resolving issues. In addition to shaving off time for customers, business owners enjoy benefits such as: increasing average order values by 35 percent and lifting conversion rates by 20 percent, LivePerson chat software reports.
Motivating Employees with Incentives and Rewards
While many people think cash rewards are the best incentive to motivate employees to improve customer service and prompt brand loyalty, studies show other reward mechanisms are very successful. Offering time off, or a schedule change that gives employees more time to spend with family or friends, is one benefit many employees would welcome, which you can offer instead of cash. Reward exemplary performance according to clearly-defined parameters, and ensure performance programs include elements that encourage all employees to strive for top-performer status.
It doesn’t matter whether a business serves $1 menu burgers or caters to traveling business professionals seeking hospitality packages on short notice, the principles are the same. Valuing a customer’s time reflects an attitude of genuine respect. Incorporating training techniques and tools to provide efficient, courteous personal and professional service adds value. Increased value equals increased revenue.
How has your business improved its experiences for its customers? Tell us in the comments.
About the Author
Lance Hugo grew up on a farm in Vermont. Now he’s the CEO of a growing business consulting firm.