Perception is reality. At least that is what we are often told. It is true, what people expect or perceive is what they measure against. Internally and externally, response time expectations condition satisfaction. Are you managing them or are they managing you?
Perceptions of Response
What are your expectations for response time? It is often a critical measurement. People evaluate and judge your acceptance or not by response time.
When will the wait staff realize I need a refill of my iced tea?
How many rings until someone answers the telephone?
How long do I wait while on hold?
When I send an email how long until I get a response?
How quickly can emergency responders get to my area?
This webpage takes forever to load.
Where is my pizza?
How long until the medicine starts to work?
When will the eBay seller ship?
What time will dinner be ready?
There is an important question to ask about all of these scenarios, “What are your expectations?”
We can go through a McDonald’s drive through lane quickly, especially once our order has been placed. The pizza delivery guy is only minutes away after the pizza leaves the oven. The on-line merchandise order is typically less than two days away, and shipping is advertised as free.
Patience may be important for the recipient but it is still based entirely on expectations. Those expectations often develop from past experiences. Fortunately, or unfortunately, those past experiences are working for or against your perceived level of service.
Today expectations are shorter, faster, or quicker than ever before. We can get a loan for very little cost, very fast. Our pizza can be hot and ready, just stop in the store. Our burger is fewer than ninety seconds away, and researching to find answers to our questions are at our fingertips in under a minute.
How does the service provider manage expectations? Typically, information will help manage expectations. It may be the notification on the technical support line of the number we represent in the queue. The same is true for the help chat.
The pizza shop will often tell us the wait time when placing an order by phone and we expect the medicine to work in just minutes.
It still remains a two-way street. Push the employee, vendor, or service provider too hard, and you’ll likely find errors or rework is necessary. While you often measure with response time, perhaps patience is another metric to consider. It is the push and pull of quality and problem resolution.
Expected Wait Time
People wait for hours in line to get the new iPhone. They tailgate at the big game for more than triple the time the game is actually played.
Not so long ago a mail order businesses (today’s dot com) once shipped in 30 days, or a call from a friend or relative only happened when they had access to a landline telephone.
When we expect an immediate response we may have to remind ourselves about our expectations. We may have to consider our patience, which often allows for better quality. A fix it once correctly is better than a fix it wrong or part of the way for two or three tries.
Information is Key
Keep communicating. Respond to email, text messages, or telephone calls. Provide updates, status reports, and historical data.
Expectations are guided by perception, perception becomes reality, it is all based on past experiences and information. When in doubt, practice patience, it matters.
Do you want to be a step ahead of the competition? Find ways to do your best work faster, it is what everyone expects.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.