Supposedly we live in age of leisure brought about by technology. We don’t have to grow or find our own food, build our own house, gather wood for heat or cook over an open fire. With the basics covered, we’ve all got loads of spare time. Seth Godin elaborates on this concept in a recent post to his Blog. I recommend you read it.

You can’t have a conversation today without the subject of time coming up. ‘Busy’ might be the second most commonly used word placing right behind ‘awesome’.

The irony of life today, even with the economy in its current condition, is that we live in an age of plenty. We actually have too much of everything. There is so much stuff available that competition to sell stuff is fierce. We know from basic economics that excess supply dilutes demand. When supply exceeds demand, prices fall.

Too much work is going into marketing stuff for which there is an over supply.

But there is a shortage of one valuable commodity, time. If you could put time in a bottle you’d be wildly successful. Maybe you can.

Businesses constantly study their own efficiencies. They look for ways to reduce costs by saving their own time. What if the focus was changed to saving their customer’s time?

Imagine a business that looked at every process with the goal of saving the customer’s time. If a prospect has thousands of choices of where to buy, wouldn’t they choose the one that consumed the least of their time? I think they would. This would be especially true if all the interactions with your company saved the customer’s time, not just the buying process. Every process.

The purchasing process needs to be as easy as possible. Okay, that’s a given. What about making the package as easy as possible to open? Sound silly? Have you ever cursed one of those plastic, heat sealed packages that require a chainsaw to open? Then come the instructions. Can’t the instructions be better written and illustrated? And what about service? I wasted an hour yesterday trying to get an answer to a simple question about an MP3 player. Creative Labs offers ‘support’ only via email. I spent the time to detail my problem and a couple of hours later received a reply telling me to do things I had already done and had clearly stated so in my email. Restart, reset, reload. Download the firmware. Repeat. Sounds like the instructions on a shampoo bottle. After 4 email exchanges, I decided to live with the problem but I’ll hesitate before buying another product from Creative Labs.

The point is this. Time is today’s most valuable commodity and few companies offer it. The market is wide open.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
[email protected]