People hate to wait. In this world of instant gratification, consumers are constantly expecting things to get faster:
Food and coffee can be pre-ordered online to avoid lines.
Mobile internet speeds are upgraded every couple of years - 3G to 4G and now 5G.
Next Day Delivery isn’t fast enough for online retailers - people want Same Day Delivery.
We can all relate to this. Whether we are waiting for a package, waiting to be seated at a restaurant, or waiting in line at a store, the fact is our waiting experience significantly affects our perception and opinion of the service provided.
So how can you as a business meet your customer’s demand for faster service?
This article will discuss some practical steps you can take to deliver faster results, as well as the psychology behind waiting and how understanding that can help you improve customer satisfaction.
Reduce Wait Time By Being More Efficient
This is the most obvious and first step you should take. Analyze your business structure, workflow and processes to find areas you could be more efficient. Here are some specific ways garment decorators and print shops can speed up workflow and deliver to customers faster.
This is usually the first point of contact a customer will have with your business. So make sure your website loads quickly, is simple to navigate, and is easy for customers to place orders. One area that can be especially time consuming is when customers send you art, and someone has to look at it, send proofs and/or provide pricing. Some extremely valuable online tools are available that can virtually eliminate that back-and-forth communication which can sometimes take days.
Online Designers are available now to either work as a standalone website or to integrate with your existing site. These online design tools allow customers to upload their artwork, resize it, mock-up proofs and get pricing, all in a matter of seconds! So if you haven’t looked into an Online Designer, you could be missing out on a very valuable time saving tool. We here at Wellington House really like Deco Network and their online designer because it’s made with garment decoration as the main focus.
Sometimes creating and printing graphics takes a certain amount of time. But there could be ways to speed it up.
Bring outsourced work ‘in-house’. This is a big one. Some small shops or online stores will outsource their work, which means you are at the mercy of another company’s production schedule and there is shipping time/cost involved. So could you offer faster turn-around by bringing equipment and production in-house?
- Example - A customer wants 5 custom designed shirts made in a hurry (1 day turnaround or less). No need to send this to a large screenprint shop for fulfillment. A Heat Press combined with a Vinyl Cutter can get the job done quickly and economically.
- Do you currently outsource full color digital prints, banners, stickers or other printed graphics? Investing in a Wide Format Printer will not only allow you to price these items more competitively but you can deliver them in half the time or faster!
Use Optional Accessories. Some accessories can speed up your production with minimal cost. Here are a few heat press accessories to consider:
Heat Press Protectors are a non-stick cover that wrap over the lower platen on your heat press. This allows t-shirts, pants, sweaters, etc.., to easily slide on and off. This makes switching out garments and repositioning much quicker. Check out this article on the 'Threading' technique for more info.
The EZ Weeder tool is an angled metal pick that is used for ‘weeding’ vinyl (removing the unwanted excess after cutting your design). This tool comes with a rubber handle making it easy to grip and will drastically speed up your weeding time when compared to using tweezers or an exacto knife.
The EZ Weeding Table is a little more costly, but could save you tons in the long run. This is an adjustable, heated table that makes weeding HTV much easier and quicker. Heating up the HTV tacky carrier allows it to release faster with less tearing and breaking. If you do lots of cutting and weeding, this could increase your productivity by 60%.
A Caddie Stand (or Counter Caddie) is a stand for your heat press that allows you to quickly and easily decorate the front and backs of shirts and jerseys. Find out more about this technique called 'Threading'.
Invest in a Smart Heat Press. If you or your employees have to wait for your heat press to warm up in the morning, that means your customers are also having to wait. But a heat press with programmable on/off feature can eliminate that down time which means quicker turnaround on orders.
The Fusion IQ™ heat press is one of the smartest, if not the smartest, heat presses available on the market today. With the ability to set on/off times, program unlimited different time-temp-pressure settings, and an online analytics tool, this press will maximize your efficiency.
If you already have a working heat press, you could try purchasing a Smart Plug to schedule when the press turns on/off. NOTE: Check the power requirements for your heat press to make sure it is compatible with the Smart Plug.
Change The Customer’s Perceived Waiting Experience
If you’ve done all you can to be as efficient as possible, then it’s time to give attention to your customer's experience while they wait. Here is where the psychology comes in.
First Rule of Customer Service Psychology
A customer’s Satisfaction comes from their Expectation of your services and the Perception on how you fulfilled that expectation (in math terms S = P - E). So if your client expects a certain level of service, and perceives your service to be greater than expected, you have a satisfied customer. Unfortunately sometimes the customers expectations are not realistic. Even if you delivered the service/product in the fastest time possible, if their expectations were not met, then you could have a dissatisfied client.
Second Rule of Customer Service Psychology
Preventing a bad experience is easier to do than fixing one. Or as the idiom goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Waiters and waitresses experience this firsthand; if a customer sits down in a good mood, it’s easy to keep them happy. If they sit down unhappy and disgruntled, it’s almost impossible to turn them around. This means the customer’s initial interaction with your business is crucial to keeping them happy and coming back for more in the future.
So how can you use this information to change and improve your customer’s waiting experience?
Here are some practical applications of these 2 Rules:
Under Promise - Over Deliver
This strategy involves telling the customer the wait time will be slightly longer than the actual time it should take to finish. When you deliver the finished product earlier than promised, their expectations have been exceeded and you have a satisfied customer. NOTE: Don’t go too far with this. If you think their order will be complete after 3 days, tell them 4 days, not one week.
Occupy the Customer’s Wait Time
Whether on the phone or in person, unoccupied time causes us to focus on how long we’re waiting. Giving some entertainment or education to the customer while they wait distracts them from the time.
For phone waiting, rather than playing some music, try recording some messages about various products you offer. Or you could play some game highlights of a local sports team or other news items.
For waiting in person, perhaps in your showroom, make sure to display a variety of your products. Rather than just having some catalogs laying around, setup some tablet displays where customers can browse your offerings, or perhaps watch some videos about a local event you sponsored. TV’s are another great tool that can be used to occupy the customer’s time while they wait.
Ease the Customer’s Anxiety
Anxiety makes waiting feel longer. And often the anxiety comes from fear of being forgotten. This can easily be resolved by giving the customer a confirmation that their order has been received (especially when placed on your website) and giving them an expected delivery time. In addition to that, allowing them to login to your website and check the status, and/or giving them updates via email or text of where their order is in the production queue will reassure them that progress is being made.
Explain the Wait
If something causes a delay with your production, don’t just tell the customer that they have to wait longer. Saying, ‘sorry, we need another day to finish this’ is not enough. Waiting in ignorance creates a feeling of powerlessness, which then causes irritation and could result in an angry customer. Taking a few extra minutes to explain the cause of the delay (broken machine, shipping delay of materials, staff emergency, etc..) will help to soothe the waiting customer.
There are obviously a multitude of other ways, not listed here, you can manage and improve your customer’s waiting experience. The point is to analyze your business model, the customers you market to, and come up with a strategy that will work best for that group.
What do you think of the suggestions offered? What are some ways you already manage your customer’s wait time? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.