Less for More

Time is a stratagem. It can be used to make customers happy by giving more time back to them to spend as they wish. It can also save your organization money. Look at what happened with bank ATMs. When ATMs first came out, they induced people to use them by not charging fees. They were designed for people in a hurry with simple transactions- those who didn’t want to wait in line for a teller to make a deposit or take out cash. A huge advantage of ATMs is that these simple transactions could now be conducted 24 hours a day. As a result of high ATM usage, banks were able to reduce the number of tellers required during bank hours while increasing customer service and saving money.

Make your customers happy by reducing the time necessary to do the tasks required for life and work that are not in the enjoyable category. Here are four ways that time can be used to gain competitive advantage.

  • Get new products to market quickly. Get a new product out for pilot or beta testing quickly. Find the flaws and defects and see if the product is usable by a real user. Testing with developers and designers doesn’t turn up the problems that a real user faces. This applies to applications developed by technical teams. Products and services need to be on trial and observed in the context that they will be used.
  • Reduce the amount of time required to complete a task. In healthcare, employing telehealth can reduce the time for specialists to consult and diagnose patients by who are in remote locations. By not having to transfer the patient to another facility, diagnosis and treatment is faster and results in better quality of care.
  • Bundle for value. Allow more tasks to be performed in the same time period instead of separate days and times. Although it may sound counterintuitive at first, customers are willing to spend extra time if they can accomplish more in one visit than several visits. Physician offices are experimenting with group visits for patients. A patient who wants to participate in a group visit gets an appointment earlier than one who wants an individual one-on-one visit with the doctor. Group appointments last 90 minutes or longer compared with 15 minutes for most one-on-one visits. Many doctors focus sessions on particular medical conditions or chronic diseases. Doctors can provide more information and answer more questions in longer sessions. In a study at Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado offices, patients seen in groups were less likely to enter the hospital or emergency room than those in similar health who were seen one-on-one.
  • Make your product or service efficient. Efficient products lead to efficient customers. A service that enables customers to accomplish activities faster is valuable because it demonstrates respect for the customer. For example, web sites with poor navigation that don’t make information immediately obvious cause the customer to spend too much time looking for information that should be obvious. For instance, a large HMO in California directed their members to their web site for information about the H1N1 swine flu vaccinations. But the site failed to list the times and locations that vaccinations are offered. Instead, they listed a phone number that members had to call to find out when they can receive the shot. The phone message was over five minutes long repeating verbally what was listed on the web site. The details of where and when to get the flu shots was at the very end of the call. The web site was inefficient by forcing the customer to make a phone call thereby making the customer inefficient in this task.

Have you considered using time as a stratagem to your advantage in your organization?

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