The American Medical Association recently published research that showed hospital doctors spending only a quarter of the day with patients. The rest of the workday was spent on administrative tasks and filling in electronic health records.

In Sweden, one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, almost all official correspondence comes through snail mail. In most cases it cannot be answered in any other way than calling a number and waiting in a phone queue, for minutes or hours, just to complete a mundane errand. In the unlikely event that a citizen receives an email, it cannot be answered. But there’s a number to call.

The above situations waste peoples’ time.
Time costs.
This cost isn’t measured.

Waiting is sometimes unavoidable. When going to a movie or boarding a plane. However, in most cases, what causes time being wasted is the system itself. It does this by having an unnecessarily steep learning curve, or too many required steps or conditions, which in fact are not required to complete the task at hand. Summed up as “the way we’ve always done it.”

For public services, the choking point is often that people don’t have access to their own information. This forces people to interact with institutions and staff on their conditions, rather than being able to help them selves at their convenience. This results in a time cost for both the state and the citizen, which can be avoided.

The thing about inefficient systems, services and organisations is that they waste peoples’ time – both the customer’s and the service provider’s. This cost is often not measured and instead the only costs compared is the investment needed to upgrade or change the system versus keeping on working with the old one.

Focusing on the customer and employee experience can expose the cost of wasted time

A good customer experience happens when time isn’t wasted.
A good employee experience happens when one doesn’t have to waste time on redundant steps.

Either way, the common denominator is time and the waste of it. Measuring the cost of time wasted and creating experiences that save time, and therefore money, is the best way to improve customer and employee satisfaction. As Gartner points out, in 2016 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. Five years ago that figure was only 36%.

Finding out where time is wasted, calculating what it costs, is crucial to maintaining competitive advantage. The clock is ticking…