Do you remember that famous line from Top Gun when Tom Cruise, in his nicer days :-), said, "I feel the need, the need for speed!" There’s a lot of truth to that isn’t there? You feel it, don’t you? When you call customer support, you don’t want to be put on hold for twenty minutes, let alone one. When you order a product, you don’t want to wait, "six to eight weeks," for delivery, let alone two days. When you send an email to a company, you don’t want to wait for days to receive a replay. You want it fast. You want it now. And whoever delivers with that kind of speed is probably the one you call, "remarkable," correct? Absolutely!
Last week, I sent an email to fifteen different companies to request something for one of my clients. The first one to respond, within thirty minutes of my sending it out, got my "You’re remarkable!" response email. A couple straggled in over the next 24 hours and got the "Thanks for getting back to me," response (good but not as impressive). And more than half still haven’t responded. So if I were going to recommend a company to someone else, which company do you think I’d recommend?
Earlier this year, when I went to buy my 2007 Infiniti G35x, I went to the local dealer and tried to work out a deal. No go. They didn’t have the right car on the lot and they didn’t have the right price. No problem. We kept in contact over the next few weeks. Eventually I said, "Enough. There have got to be other Infiniti dealers around here." So I went online and found two that were within an hour’s drive. I then sent two emails to the "internet" sales person. Within minutes I got my first response, at around 5:00 p.m., for the exact car I wanted and at a great price. So I called the lady but was told she had left for the day. A few minutes later, I got an email from the other dealer, a guy. I called him back. He was in. As we were talking, the lady called back, The two of them got in a bidding war and within a short span of time, I got the car I wanted at a better price than I had seen listed anywhere on the internet. Not bad, but it got even better.
One of the reasons I went with the guy from Annapolis (about an hour’s drive from my house) wasn’t just because his price was better, but because he was willing to drive the car to me that next morning (i.e. I never even had to leave my house to buy my car–which at 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds clearly meets my need for speed :-). Even better, it turns out, he didn’t have the car on his lot. He picked it up from my local Infiniti dealer on his way to my house (i.e. my local dealer didn’t even know he had the car I wanted on his lot!). Isn’t that incredible?
Any way you add it up, we all love speed. Though the concept of speed as a differentiator isn’t a new concept, it is important one. So think about your company–right now. Not how it was or how it might be someday, but how it is right now. What grade would you give your company on the issue of speed? How fast do you respond to email? Or phone calls? Or inquires? How fast do you respond to service calls? How fast is your repair time? How fast is your delivery? And how do you know if your answers to the previous questions are correct?
Then make it personal. How fast are you? Do you respond quickly? How quickly do you get things done? Do you have a reputation for speed? I hope so, because as Hung found out on Top Chef this season, the person who is the fastest will always have other people remarking about their speed–and usually with a look of awe on their faces!