Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it sincerely: I want to be respectful of your time.
Time is a valuable commodity. In this world that we live in, people are often so busy, they feel like they don’t have time, and maybe they truly don’t in that moment. One thing is for sure, whether people truly have time or not, they don’t want to feel like their time is being wasted. So, as someone who works in customer service, how do you respect someone’s time?
Look at it through the lens of the acronym BDA. BDA stands for Before, During, and After.
When you first engage a customer, thank them for the time they spent Before they got to you. Particularly if this is a follow-up question or request of theirs, or if they drove to your location, say Thanks for coming in! Show appreciation for what they went through prior to coming to you. Oftentimes you’re having a 2-minute conversation face-to-face with somebody who’s already accessed your website, called your co-worker, driven through rain and snow and gloom of night, and waited in line just to see you.
During refers to the conversation itself. Try to be as efficient as possible in meeting that customer’s needs; early on confirm how much time the customer has so that you know if they have 2 minutes or 20 minutes to sit with you. By understanding what’s going on in their mind from a time perspective – by knowing whether they are rushed or relaxed – you can best value their time in that interaction.
After refers to thinking about what’s going to happen next. If they have a next step that they need to take, or if there’s going to be some delay in your follow-up because of some internal process or communication or decision that needs to be made, let them know that you appreciate the forms they will be filling out. Let them know you appreciate their patience as they wait for an answer or resolution to their question.
To show that you value someone’s time, to be respectful of someone’s time, engage the customer with your understanding of what time they put into this interaction Before, During, and After.