3 ways to respect others’ time

by | Apr 28, 2014 | Blog | 0 comments

clock Where’s the Queen of Soul?

Aretha Franklin who turned 71 earlier this spring isn’t performing much these days.

Yet many could benefit from listening to her sing one of her signature songs, Respect.

Just consider recent headlines about the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his racist rants, the tech giants scheming against engineers, and bullying from the playground to the office.

Closer to home, I’m spending hours dealing with AT&T, Comcast and The Wall Street Journal on some very basic service problems related to my recent cross-country move.

Granted, mine are annoying problems, not life-changing dilemmas.

Nonetheless, it would help if these and other service providers would recognize that time is a finite and precious resource.

The more you can avoid wasting others’ time, the more respect and trust you can garner.

At work, here are three things you can do to respect others’ time. (AT&T, Comcast and the Wall Street Journal, would you please pay attention?)

1. Be timely. Call when you say you will. (How can you forget to call especially if you’ve sent a meeting invite that should be on your electronic calendar?) Starting on time for calls and meetings rewards those who are there. Don’t punish them for being available and accessible.

2. Translate.  Make it easy for people and interpret jargon, time zones and anything else that might trip people up. By putting things in their terms (especially their time zone for conference calls), you also can do a check for logic. At a minimum, include the time zone.

3. Strive for accuracy—the first time. Call me old-fashioned, but certain things you should double-check check before releasing. Relying on your customer—whether internal or external—to catch all of your mistakes is sheer laziness and sloppiness. Yes, iteration is a cornerstone of business these days, but not for basic information that you are expected to either know or find out.

For example, my husband had to drive back to the South Carolina Motor Vehicle Department after he noticed his brand-new driver’s license showing him wearing a bow tie and jacket had his sex as “F.”

Comcast insists that it can’t change the spelling of my last name on my account, which it butchered when setting up my South Carolina service. (The company correctly spelled my name in California.)  Now, Comcast wants me to log onto its website using the misspelled name. Once there, I can check my new Comcast email account, which I didn’t request or want, and access my invoices.

For the past four days, the Wall Street Journal has been sending me multiple emails a day welcoming me to its digital service—even though I’ve been a customer for years—and reminding me it will charge me monthly for the service—even though I’m on a quarterly payment schedule.

AT&T won’t accept my calls to its service department when I use my cell phone before 10 am ET—even though I’m calling about a non-mobile phone issue. That’s because I’m using a Northern California cell phone number and the service center isn’t open yet on the West Coast. (And AT&T is a communications technology company?)

Who’s working for whom? These incidents would be humorous if they didn’t suck up so much time and energy, and hurt productivity.

No wonder the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that trust with company officials continues to be low. In fact, it’s no surprise that over the past five years, we’re placing more trust in “a person like yourself” and a “regular employee.”

Kudos to Edelman for conducting this research each year. Also, kudos to Trust Across America, which also is taking steps to restore trust, noting that trust is an “inherent element of optimism” that lifts economies as well as individuals. (In the interest of full disclosure, Trust Across America named me as one of 2014’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business.)

Enough said! I don’t want to take up any more of your valuable time.

However, if you have a moment, please share your reactions to respecting time.


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