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Cancel Delays that Harm Customers to Create More Profitable Growth

Feb 4, 2008
"Automobiles are free of egotism, passion, prejudice and stupid ideas about where to have dinner. They are, literally, selfless. A world designed for automobiles instead of people would have wider streets, larger dining rooms, fewer stairs to climb and no smelly, dangerous subway stations." --P .J. O'Rourke

First-time car owners often have no clue as to what a tune-up is. It's the routine maintenance of cleaning out the fuel lines, replacing the spark plugs, setting the fuel injectors for better efficiency, and making sure that the combustion is occurring optimally.

Fail to have tune-ups and eventually your vehicle will begin to cough, sputter, and stall. If it stalls at the wrong time and place, you may have a long wait before you can proceed on your journey. The tune-up can also help spot bigger problems such as an oil leak that can leave you without oil . . . and an engine that's only good for the scrap-metal market.

But there's a delay involved in having a tune-up. You usually have to drive to a dealership or garage and leave your car for the day. Or you have to wait with your car for a few hours. Neither option is desirable for most people. Dealerships and garages are rarely anyone's first choice of where to hang out. Decades ago, some car dealers would provide you with a loaner car at no charge while yours was in the shop. That option is seldom provided any more.

Some luxury brands, though, have a better idea: When your vehicle is ready for a tune-up, a technician shows up at your home or office to pick up your vehicle and then return it a few hours later. You hardly notice that your chariot is gone for a tune-up. In fact, some manufacturers go so far as to provide all scheduled maintenance as part of the vehicle's purchase, lease, or rental price.

If this service model becomes popular enough, it would make sense to develop ways to provide most of the needed service at the customer's site to avoid the delays of driving to and from the dealership or garage. Replacement automobile glass companies already do something similar by bringing the glass to where your vehicle is parked and putting the new glass in while you are at work or home watching television.

And I don't know about you, but software is a big pain for me, especially when I write a book. Microsoft Word likes to "improve" what I write into formats and versions that I don't agree are improvements; my "undo" button gets a workout. My antivirus scanning software loves to tell us that we have adware, trojans, and other undesirable programs, but can't seem to permanently rid my computer of those programs without us becoming software engineers. Each reminder wastes my time as I have to click to get rid of the warnings that do me no good.

It's not just software that wastes time. I cannot remember the last time I saw most of my physicians within a half hour of the appointed time. I always bring reading material to help offset that expected wait.

But I usually also encounter genuinely sick people who are sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling, and spreading their germs all over the place where others are waiting. Would a physician know how to avoid this dispersion of disease? Probably.

Would she or he do anything about it? Probably not except to put in a glass partition to protect the office staff. So you may find your progress slowed for two weeks while you recover from a nasty cold contracted during your long, but expected, wait in the doctor's office.

The world today is full of product and service providers who like to point fingers. If you have a problem with the provider's offering, the provider will be quick to assure you that the fault lies elsewhere. That approach doesn't do the poor delayed beneficiary, user, or consumer much good. Few want to play the role of judge. Most people just want to get on with their lives without delay.

Few beneficiaries expect product and service providers to be perfect. But most people do hope that providers will step in to make life easier for beneficiaries whenever possible. When the same old problems recur, beneficiaries are naturally anxious to find some way to escape those vendors and nonprofit providers.

Sometimes the supplier cannot do much to improve things. Physicians cannot ban sick people from their offices; that would make no sense.

But if the provider does as much as is reasonable, delays can be reduced and sometimes eliminated. Those who might experience such delays will be helped. For instance, someone who is wheezing and sneezing can be taken into an examining room rather than left out in the waiting room. That examining room can be doused with disinfectant after the patient leaves.

If no waiting room is available, the office assistant can provide tissues so that the quantity of infected spray is reduced. If the wait is going to be long and the person appears to be sick enough, the office staff can be trained to ask the physician to take a quick look to see if the patient needs to be sent to the hospital emergency room. Larger waiting rooms can be designed to have separate "sick" and "well" waiting areas. Some thoughtful pediatricians do that now.

What about that pesky software? I'll continue to experience annoying delays until viable competitors with superior offerings come along. I can hardly wait. For an entrepreneur or professional, the value of the time spent with balky or slow software may be worth hundreds of dollars an hour. Add up those delays over a year, and you have a major opportunity cost. If vehicles performed as poorly, we would probably choose to ride in horse-drawn carriages instead.

There's clearly potential demand for buying your software with a warranty under which the vendor will fix any problems without requiring you to learn how to hire and supervise software programmers. In many cases, the vendor could probably make a one-time adjustment for a small cost, and the problem would go away. Currently, most software companies will try instead to sell you an expensive, one-time fix or send you to unending pages of message boards for incomprehensible or confusing free advice.

Offering software without those delays would make the software much more valuable to the user. Even if the price were to double, users would in most cases see their productivity rise so much that the expenses and opportunity costs would drop by over 95 percent.

Where are you creating costly, annoying delays for your customers that can be eliminated?

How soon can you get rid of those delays?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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