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Reflections on Time: The Race for Competitive Advantage

Customer Experience, Reflections on Time: The Race for Competitive AdvantageWe have an obsession with time. Whether spending it, saving it or traveling through it, we are addicted to the notion of time as a competitive advantage.

Don’t be fooled by lessons from Aesop’s fables or the Rolling Stones about the value of patience. The slow and steady tortoise who ultimately wins the race and the rock star whose lover returns because “time is on my side,” would both likely be losers in today’s competitive marketplace.

OK, the hare’s overconfidence probably would still do him in and Mick would never be a loser, but you get where I’m going with this.

In this final article of the year for my CMSWire series, I take a moment to reflect on the different ways that enterprises are waging time-based competition and the technology that is helping them do that.

Time Is the True Currency

In pop culture, time can be purchased, traveled through, altered, abused and even made to stand still. I am enthralled by all the mysterious possibilities of time as true currency in our personal lives. There are stories like In Time, a recent science fiction movie, about buying, trading and stealing time. The unlikely protagonist in Mr. Destiny goes back in time to change what happens in his life. In the movie Frequency, the past and present can communicate and exchange information that changes both, as if in those moments, time is frozen. And I haven’t even begun to site examples of the power of time, from the sublime to the ridiculous, including The Time Machine, 12 Monkeys, Back to the Future, Somewhere in Time, Peggy Sue Got Married and every episode ever made of Dr. Who.

But what is the role of time in the world of business? Here again we can see all the powerful possibilities of mastering time. Time-based competition delivers revenue, margin and strategic advantage. First to innovate with a new drug means millions perhaps billions of dollars to pharma companies; oil and gas companies gain advantage by getting their wells into production earlier than their competitors; speed to market ensures profits for high tech and fashion retailers; and shorter times to open a bank account or credit card translates to banking customers won from the competition.

Time and time again, in the marketplace as in life, we see that the clock can be our worst enemy or the basis for our success. Here are three of the stories I’ve covered in the past that illustrate time as its own valuable currency.

Delivering Great Customer Experience

We know that great customer experiences depend on a whole range of design and service elements, but I am convinced that speed has got to be one of the top priorities. I led off one of my earlier articles on "How Case Management Speeds Automotive Leasing & Financing" with one of my favorite quotes:

“If everything seems to be in control, you're not going fast enough.” - Mario Andretti, champion racing car driver

My point was that in the world of automotive racing, speed is paramount, and when it comes to automotive financing, speed is equally important. In the case studies I shared, time played an important role in capturing and retaining delighted customers. The business executives in those studies did not fixate on internal cost cutting, they competed on the basis of time to service. In this competitive market, first to finance a deal gets the deal, and with case management supporting key processes, the applications are correct, complete and loans close quickly.

As I write this article, the focus on serving the customer faster to win market share is in the news. Not surprisingly, this example is in the “fast-food” industry. McDonald’s is looking to score with even faster food delivery. In the article, “Speed of service a priority for McDonald's in 2014,” we hear how McDonald's is experimenting with a third drive-thru window to speed up service. Aimed at increasing market share, they will feature the extra window in new and renovated restaurants starting next year. The "Fast Forward Drive-Thru" allows customers to drive to a third stop if their orders aren't ready.


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