Late Is Rude And Customers Notice

Small Business Trends has an excellent item by Jack Yoest entitled, ‘Late Is Rude and Bad for Small Business‘. Apparently President George W. Bush is one person who often uses the phrase ‘Late Is Rude’. He is so right. It certainly can be a sign of disrespect to whomever you are meeting.

The article is all about when you start doing something. The same concern for time is often important when you stop doing something. Perhaps the person you are involved with has another engagement to get to. Perhaps someone else is waiting to use the ‘equipment’ you’re using, whether it be a conference room or an exercise machine.

The most important end time of all is the time when you told the customer that the product would arrive or the new system would be running successfully. Many suppliers seem unaware of how important time of delivery is to most customers. It’s a very visible sign of the total quality being delivered. Even when there are no adverse economic effects of a late delivery, it’s still late. The customer is waiting. It’s even worse if they’ve not had news on why the delay is occurring.

That’s the downside of time associated with a product or service. If you deliver late, then the product/service is just that much less satisfactory than it might have been. There can be an upside to time. You can turn it into a distinguishing mark of your products and services. Delivering on time or even ahead of time is so unusual that you’ll really stand out from the crowd. I remember a very rich Norwegian lawyer friend of mine. He was very successful in the early days of the North Sea gas finds. On most issues he had a 48-hour turn round policy. Whoever heard of a lawyer who reliably delivers answers and documents within two days? What a great USP (Unique Selling Proposition). He left the competition trailing in the dust. It certainly worked very well for him.

In some ways, it’s one of the easiest features that you can build into a product. Yet what an enormous benefit it will be to many customers. There are no worries that it may arrive late, when you buy from ABC Corp. All it takes is some planning and making sure that the resources are there to do the job on time. Most importantly the whole team must have the enthusiasm and commitment to deliver the product on or before the promised time.

So don’t just be on time to avoid being rude. Be on time because it’s one of the easiest ways of delivering an important benefit to your customers. If you do, they’ll probably tell their friends about it too. So it’s a win/win situation.

Related: Time Is Critical


9 thoughts on “Late Is Rude And Customers Notice”

  1. I’ve managed to build a lot of my reputation on the fact that I respond quickly to queries and work quickly: there’s no question that quick and regular communication is invaluable in maintaining a business relationship.

    Even if you can’t get the work done; you can always find the time to notify your client of your progress!

  2. Thanks for your articles. What are effects of late deliveries and how do they affect the purchasing and supply chain?


  3. I am a customer dealing with an architect who is late. Here’s my perspective. The guy came very highly recommended. Our first meeting was wonderful. He immediately came up with creative solutions to our problems. We left very impressed and left with the promise that we’d have preliminary drawings in 4 weeks. I was very patient and happy for those 4 weeks. Right at the 4 week mark, every time the phone rang, I would feel hopeful. I answered all calls – even the ones with no ID, just in case it was him. I never realized how many calls we received. At the 6 week mark, with no word, I called and left messages and sent an email. He did not call back, but he did respond to the email. He had just that week had a personal issue come up. That didn’t explain why he had missed the 4 week mark or even the 5 week mark. In the email he said he’d call the following Monday. So once again, I got my hopes up and on that Monday, every phone call was once again a cause for hope. He didn’t call. It’s now Saturday and we are almost to the 8 week mark. Whenever the phone rings, I feel awful. At one point this week the phone rang and I burst into tears. No matter how wonderful the results will be, I will never feel completely happy about them. I will not recommend him to anyone else. He should have either produced the work on time or called to explain. It’s a bsic courtesy. His talent will never make up for his rudeness.

  4. Thanks for adding your comment, Denise. You illustrate the point so well. Time is such an obvious measure of product/service quality. .. and provided you communicate when you’re having problems, your customer will understand. Unfortunately people who are ‘artists’ often seem to feel they should do their thing and the rest of us should be happy that we are able to benefit. It’s even been the basis of that phrase, ‘The tyranny of the architect’. I’ve seen the same thing with website designers too. However thankfully the really good ones don’t suffer from this failing.

  5. So, what do you do when an architect is causing you to lose $7K a month because your business did not open when he said you would?

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