In a previous post, I discussed how customers buy your products and services because they need the outcomes from using them. I included a brief list of “value from use” attributes but decided to save a special “value proposition” for this post – time. Yes, time really is money.
Time in the language of business
As I started working on this post, I thought it would be interesting to make a list of the business terms I could think of that included “time.” I was surprise how easy it was to come up with these eight:
- Response time
- Restoral time
- Just in time
- Turnaround time
- Time management
- Real time
- Full- and part- time
Lets take a look at the ones that relate to value to customers of your services:
Uptime refers to the percent of time that equipment is available for use, i.e., not undergoing maintenance or waiting for service. For important and critical equipment, excess downtime means your customer either accepts reduced production or owns extra capital equipment. Both are bad.
Response time is either the time it takes for technical support to begin solving a customer’s problem or the time it takes for a service engineer to begin working on inoperable equipment. As we all know, many customers are very willing to pay extra for quick response. When I was V.P. Services for a data communications company our basic on site response was 24 hours. For customers who needed better response, we sold a number of upgrades:
- 4-hour response
- 2-hour response
- On site engineer
Each of these upgrades were available during the business day or 24×7
Restoral time is orders of magnitude more important than response time, when you consider letting the customer again obtain the benefits of product use. However, response time is very important because it provides a measure of peace of mind to your customer while waiting for full restoral. Imagine the office copier is not working on the day the boss has to produce 10 copies of a report. Would you rather tell her “I called and am waiting to hear back when someone will arrive here” or “they told me the technician will be here in 10 minutes”?
Because restoral time is critical in many applications (medical, data communications, continuous production), some customers employ their own trained and certified on-site repair people and arrange to have their vendors stock critical or high use spare parts on site and available when needed. This alone shows how much these customers value quick restoral.
Why is time so valuable to customers?
The answer to this question depends on the industry you serve. For example, if you serve a hospital then you know both the patient and her insurer wants to minimize the length of the patients stay. Anything over a standard raises a flag. There is no way anyone can justify keeping a patient an extra night because the X-ray unit is down. No way for a patient to feel good about driving in for a radiation treatment only to find out the equipment needs a new tube.
Think about how you feel when your car is not ready when the service adviser promised because they did not have any computer in stock and the distributor will not get his until tomorrow. You demand a no cost loaner and threaten that you will not rate them a 5 on their follow up survey or take your future business to another service provider.
And on and on it goes.
If a short restoral time is very valuable then how much more valuable do you thing avoiding the failure will be? Of course, you know the answer. In some very critical applications, customers purchase redundant, fault tolerant products. Also, that is why you are investigating predictive maintenance, real time monitoring, and anything else you can uncover to identify a potential failure and fix it at a convenient time so your customer avoids unscheduled downtime.
So, as you make your plans on how you will provide support to your customers, keep in mind that uptime has a very high value, and people will pay for it.