The one topic sure to spark unanimous agreement in the modern business world is that we are all struggling to find enough time to get everything we need to do done. There are so many different aspects to our lives that demand our time and attention.When you look at time from a customer service perspective it is the one area where consumers are unforgiving. If a business wastes their time, look out. Winning businesses realise this and they will do their utmost to make sure their customers' time is treated as the precious commodity it is.

Think about your own frustrations when it comes to time related customer service issues. Waiting for too long in a restaurant, standing in queues anywhere, waiting around at home for a tradesperson to turn up and make a repair, waiting for someone to call you back and a myriad of other typically time frustrating scenarios. Think of how your mind processes thoughts regarding certain businesses.

As an example, you might have a favourite coffee shop but you know you have to wait quite a long time for a coffee. Often this will stop you from going there simply because you haven't got the time to stand around waiting for a coffee. After a while you stop going there and so do lots of other people. Sure the business may do well initially, but eventually the owners will wonder where all of the customers have gone.

If you can show your customers that you respect their time they will appreciate it, even if you don't always get it right.

Most businesses have peaks and troughs, when they are busier than usual or quieter than usual, and customers understand this. Most of us eat at restaurants for either lunch or dinner, along with everyone else. So these are the times when you expect to wait a little longer. But when the restaurant is quiet, we expect to be served fast and efficiently.

One of the biggest mistakes I observe with businesses that fail to respect time is that they don't acknowledge the customers who are waiting. No eye contact or recognition is made until the customer is the next one at the counter. So much grief can be overcome by simply smiling at the people waiting and letting them know the wait won't be long. Acknowledge the customer and show them you understand their time is valuable and you are doing your best to serve them quickly.

It all comes back to communication. If you are going to be late, call the customer. If you can't deliver a product on time, let them know. If you've got no news, call them to let them know you've got no news!

Look for ways to streamline what you do to speed up the customer service. Often it is the little things that can make businesses serve their customers faster. It might be the layout of the business, if it is a retail style of operation. It might be staffing levels at critical times or it might be the actual sales process itself--maybe it is overly complicated and has too much paperwork. Maybe your staff need to be better trained.

Regardless of the business, find ways to serve your customers that shows that you respect their time and your business will develop a reputation for providing excellent service and more customers will seek you out. This applies as much online as offline. Fail to respect your customers time and they will be ruthless with you and rightly so I think.