My bestie for the last fifty years, Judy, has had a saying for many years that I love: “Waste my money, waste my food, but don’t waste my time.” We all know that time is money, and none of us have enough of it. We cannot afford to waste it.
I am up early this AM because I could not sleep, and I have again, experienced the “waste my time.” I decided to make a couple of phone calls to check on a few things when I had time this AM that I did not plan to have. One of those was to my bank, and one was to a merchant. I should have done laundry instead, for I wasted my time.
My bank has recently gone through a merger with another bank, and it has cost me time several times. This AM I called the twenty-four-hour customer service line I was given by a bank employee a few days ago and could not access my account. So, I will call the bank when they open in a few hours and try (again) to get service. In addition to other changes that do not benefit their customers, the merger resulted in the bank’s branch hours being reduced by 1.5 hours per day the bank is open! At a time when some other banks are open seven days a week! Now, I do not need to do banking in a branch seven days a week, but I do not appreciate my bank not being open during regular business hours.
I called the twenty-four -hour line of a department store. I had already gone on their website to access the information I need, to no avail. Instead of the automatic message on the phone line telling me at the outset of my call the hours that it is “open” to talk to a live voice to answer my question and solve my problem, I spent (wasted) about five minutes listening to information that I did not need. So, I will call and spend at least five more minutes of my limited time later today when I can talk to a live person. I am anticipating that such time spent will also be wasted, for what I want to do is cancel a transaction before my statement closes today, and I am wanting to avoid going into the store to do so. I imagine this is more complicated to do than the thirty minutes time required (and gas!) to visit the store. I have decided to test the system by making the call.
Both of these two situations this morning have reinforced what I have been speaking on for years related to customer service. When there is a failure in customer service, it isn’t usually that the strategy (such as customer service!) isn’t clear to the business’s co-workers. Nor is it that the business doesn’t have friendly and customer-oriented staff. Yes, both of these problems occur periodically. But more often than not the lapse in customer service is due to the business’s systems problems. Systems problems include information and communication, which are the problems I encountered with both of the businesses I called this morning.
Now, I realize this is a first world problem. It isn’t cancer, and it isn’t even something that can’t be fixed quickly once I can talk to a live voice at both of these businesses. But it is a waste of my time and very annoying.
Seth Godin, one of my business/writer heroes’ post today tells about a similar problem. I encourage my readers to follow him. Reading his words is (usually) a good use of my time. And I consider “usually” to be about the best we can hope for.
Now, it behooves me to think about ways I may be wasting others’ time. Ouch!