How long is this going to take?

26Feb09

Organizations that operate based on an appointment system seem to be getting very good at automating the grunt work inherent in that approach. For example, you can book a doctor’s appointment or an oil change or a dinner reservation online, without having to pick up the phone. And to make sure you don’t forget about the date and time, the doctor or car dealer or restaurant might even send you a confirmation of your appointment and call you with an automated message a few days before.

So far, this approach is beneficial to service providers and customers alike. But I’d like to see businesses take advantage of these same appointment-related interactions to deliver another key piece of information. Namely, how long will the appointment take? I’m not talking about anything fancy. Just something along the lines of “Please allow about two hours for your appointment” or “Plan on spending about 90 minutes with us — we provide free WiFi while you wait”. That way, customers can budget their time accurately, and won’t be taken by surprise when something like paying the bill takes 30 minutes longer than they would have guessed.



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