Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Customer Service Strategy: Deliver Value with Time

deliver amazing customer serviceAmazing Customer Service

I don’t know very many people who enjoy waiting on anything.  It’s not that everyone is impatient.  It’s just frustrating to have to waste time standing in line, being put on hold, or waiting for a response from anyone.  How about showing up on time for lunch with a friend, only to have that friend show up twenty minutes late?  You may cut a friend some slack, but you will surely be upset or angry with the company that makes you wait an extra twenty minutes.

Not long ago I was forced to stay in a hotel because my flight was canceled due to bad weather.  I showed up late in the evening and couldn’t believe how long the line was to check into the hotel.  Their excuse was that they didn’t expect the hotel to be so busy.  Yet, according to the reservations person I talked with earlier that day, the hotel was just about sold out sold out of rooms.  How could they not have known?  I blame a manager for making a bad staffing decision.  That moment eroded the hotel’s guest focused brand and image that they worked so hard to create through advertising and marketing.

Don’t you just hate when you call a company for help or support and you get the recording that goes something like this: “We’re sorry.  Due to unexpected call volume you may experience longer than normal wait times.”  I hate when this happens.

I’m sensing a pattern.  Don’t these companies respect our time?

Customers are turning to alternative ways of doing business because of speed.  Usually it is much faster to order something online.  Self-service checkout in a grocery store may be a good alternative to save a few minutes.  Even when it comes to customer service, customers turn to an online alternative rather than having to make a call and be put on hold, be transferred to numerous people and have to repeat their story to multiple employees. gets it.  Once you understand their system, you can find what you want and check out with “one click.”  Their Amazon Prime Membership, for which customers pay an annual fee, offers free two-day shipping on most purchases.  It’s all about speed and convenience.  Their customers love it, and are willing to pay for it.

Some companies offer various levels of support.  Pay more and you may get a special number that gets you to someone faster.  Or just do more business to earn that perk.  While I’m not so sure that may be the best strategy, here is the type of response I think you want from your customers:

The company may not be the lowest priced, but they are fairly priced and I’m willing to pay a little more for the value they deliver.  I love that my questions are answered and problems resolved without having to wait.

Here’s the point: Value my time and you value me.  It’s part of delivering amazing service.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times  bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXIV, Shep Hyken)

  1. A lot of good truth’s and insights in this post, Shep.

    Your hotel incident made me think about the disconnect that’s all too common within organizations. Marketing says one thing, operations does another.

    Who’s to blame here? Both. What’s the solution? A clear, unified strategy.

    When marketing and operations focus on the same thing (in this case, customer service), then issues like these would occur much less frequently. Marketing would say, “Whatever message we send, it HAS to be about exceptional customer service.” Likewise, operations would say, “Whatever actions we take, it HAS to be about exceptional customer service.”

    When a company’s unique value proposition becomes its anchor, departments start working together harmoniously.

    The question is, how does one create a customer service culture that permeates to all parts of the company? What are your thoughts on that, Shep?

    • You are spot on. Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by every member of an organization. if someone doesn’t buy into the concept, they may not be a fit for the company.

  2. There are still a few restaurants that let you call ahead and put your name on their waiting list. This is a great service, it keeps people from having to wait for hours on end, if they even wait at all. Most people won’t even wait more than 30 minutes.

  3. “Customer service is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by every member of an organization.”

    I love this! Without buy-in at all levels of the organization, there is little to no way to consistently manage a positive experience for your client.

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