This week we feature an article by Chip Bell who writes about the importance of being easily accessible and convenient for your customers to do business with you. – Shep Hyken
I arrived at my river house in the North Georgia mountains late on a Friday night for a getaway weekend. After washing my hands in the master bathroom sink, I noticed water dripping out of the cabinet doors under the sink. The elbow drain trap was cracked and had a small leak. I knew it would be an easy Saturday morning repair if I had the right PVC part. I also knew the hardware store in the small town four miles away was closed. But I thought their after-hours answering machine would inform me what time they would open on Saturday morning. I was in for a delightful surprise!
“This is Darrack,” said the super friendly voice on the other end of the phone. “How can I help you tonight?” I was stunned.
“Are you still open?” I asked in disbelief.
“Oh, no,” he said, “We closed at 5 pm. But I call forward the store phone to my cell just in case someone has an emergency hardware need.” I explained my situation and Darrack offered to meet me at the store. It was 10 pm! I declined his gracious offer and opted to meet him at 8 am Saturday morning when the store opened. But, his gesture made me think about our 24/7, make-it-easy world. I thought about how my clients view my hours through the lens of Amazon’s store hours.
Time has always had many meanings in our lives. At Disney World it means wait, a fast pass, and when to gather on the curb for a good seat to see the Mickey Mouse parade. At the hospital, it can mean sheer mystery and the angst of why it takes so long to get back that test result. Time occupies such a vital part in our lives we give it life-like properties. It orders our lives just as it frustrates our lives. But is not really about the clock? It is about convenience. Welcome to what my good friend, Shep Hyken labels The Convenience Revolution. It is also the name of his new book which I highly recommend.
I was among a group of bank customers standing in the rain at 8:55 am in front of the branch. All the bank personnel were in position inside waiting for the doors to be unlocked at 9 am. Once inside, I asked the receptionist why not open a few minutes early? I got the “bank hours” rule. So, I asked the branch manager if there was a legal or security reason for waiting to open the front door. He said, “No, but we open at 9 am.” His rules trumped our ease. And, it underscored the fact that convenience has a sharper meaning to customers in their time’s up world.
Convenience has become the gatekeeper to the important portals of our lives. It governs access to what we want or need when want or need it. And, the cyber world has taught us to abhor the arbitrariness of that gatekeeper. We think, “Why can’t they be open when I need them?” “Why do they care more about their rules than making revenue?” “Why doesn’t every merchant deliver?” “Don’t big box retail stores know I pay a price to shop with them that Amazon does not require?”
Darrack was not open; he was conveniently accessible. What can you do to make your customers’ experiences amazingly convenient? Start by reading a copy of Shep’s new book. Then, go to work implementing the countless techniques he advocates.
Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several national best-selling books. His newest book is Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Three Must-Do’s To Deliver An Amazing Speech