The Best Businesses Are Time Machines

Scott Galloway proposed a really interesting framing for business value propositions: our favorite companies all extend and/or enhance our time. Once we understand how others are doing it, we can apply the principles to our own customers’ experience. Get the time machine out, it’s time to think about the impact our work has on our clients’ time. 
Businesses can manipulate time in all sorts of ways. A drug company might cure a disease and extend life. An overbooked doctor’s office can leave you sitting in the waiting room well beyond your scheduled appointment. Beyond cost, our experience as the customers in each setting is largely determined by how our most valuable asset is treated. 
Galloway uses the example of Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited Service to drive the point home: 

The biggest unlock in shareholder value in the last 5 years is Walmart’s click & collect and delivery. Walmart gave us 4 days a year back — grocery shopping takes an average of 69 min a week; you grocery shop 1.6 times per week, and the average commute for grocery shopping is 12.5 min each way.

Now think in terms of cost – what’s it worth to the consumer and why?

Walmart Delivery Unlimited: At $98/year, that’s $2,940 over 30 years to get 120 days of your life back.

The internet and smartphones have helped create a new age of convenience. Professionally, we don’t have to be constantly on-demand or even the lowest-cost provider, but we do have to think about the way we frame the value we provide in terms of time costs. My dentist doesn’t need to explain how much schooling I’d need to give myself an equivalent treatment, but she can (and has) embraced email and text appointment reminders and several other time respecting touches. Mostly automating the scheduling process for annual cleanings for example is a very valuable service add-on. 
The question we all have to ask ourselves is how does what we do extend or enhance our clients’ time? We have to really understand the answer, and then target the peak moments where we can do something to make them say, “Wow, that was easy.” The best companies are already doing it. At face value, we may not be competing directly with them, but when we step back we realize that we want to be associated with the “giving time back” group and not the “taking time away” group. This framing matters. Build the time machine. 

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