The mid-1800’s brought a wave of cutting-edge technology. The Pony Express emerged, with the ability to carry a message from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in just…10 days!
The railroad came along and made delivery even faster.
The telegraph and, later, the telephone made communication instantaneous.
The advent of radio and television in the early 1900’s made news accessible from coast to coast and beyond in real time. This was important because by the 1960’s, America had landed men on the moon, and Americans could watch it live on television from the comfort of their living rooms.
In the late 1970’s, fax machines took the world by storm. (You DO remember thermal paper, right?) With this technology, business gained speed. Documents could be delivered faster than ever – in minutes by fax instead of days by mail. As speed increased, expectations grew as well.
Even as fax machines were becoming the rage, an even more powerful form of communication was starting to emerge – email. With email, a message could be delivered around the world in a matter of seconds. This had the effect of globalizing business, wherein expectations for both speed and scope increased.
Today, email is finding competition with other electronic means such as texting, live chat, and on-demand video conferencing. The demand for interactive websites is on the rise, and all of these functions are available in the palm of your hand.
What does all this mean for today’s business leader? It means you must move quickly, or you will be left behind.
Large corporate ships that take forever to turn in a new direction are being rivaled by the more nimble, technology-driven businesses. Surprisingly, though, it is not just about technology. It is about delivering world-class customer service as quickly as possible.
Here are five areas where SPEED is critical.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to constantly look ahead of the curve to see what the next needs are, and to be ready to meet those needs. A great leader has developed the solution before the customer knows they have a need. Steve Jobs is a perfect illustration of this concept. He did not see a current need. He found the solution to needs we did not even know we had. In this day and age, if you wait for the customer to come to you, it is too late.
The technology for instant communication is available to us, but the fact is, not everyone responds in a timely fashion. Recently, I heard a story about a business owner who sent out an RFP (Request for Proposal) to several service providers. Only two responded at all to the request…yes, TWO!
Of those two, only one provided follow-up.
Guess which service provider got the business?
Corporate communications can be a real challenge in this era of speed. It takes time to formulate effective communications, but there is no time. If you do not communicate with speed, your employees will learn about corporate initiatives through the grapevine. This creates mistrust and also does not ensure the correct message is getting out.
One solution is to create templates, talking points, and crisis communication plans as much in advance as possible. This allows you to get the message out quickly and directly from the proper channels.
Keeping up with business at the speed of light is, admittedly, a challenge. To accomplish this, you must have systems and support. Automation is key (systems) and support is also key (customer service).
The leaders of Amazon know that to stay ahead of the curve, they must provide the fastest delivery possible. To that end, they are adding key distribution centers in different parts of the country. They are considering drones for delivery. Several days for delivery of an order used to be acceptable, but Amazon’s leaders know that, in reality, today’s society expects the order to be on their doorstep almost immediately.
Speed today is a factor you cannot ignore. If you are the first to show up, the first to communicate, and the first to deliver, you are almost guaranteed success.
For help in meeting the demands of customer service for your organization, join us for our next Ignite Your Leadership Strengths webinar. The webinar in complimentary. Click here to sign up, and we’ll send you the details.