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When you flip a light switch, you know exactly what to expect. The light comes on—right away. No hesitation. It happens immediately.

The human brain loves instant results. Let's use the TV as an example. It was a number of years ago, but I remember the frustrating feeling like it was yesterday. I switched to a new satellite system for the internet and TV. Before the switch, when I changed TV channels it was instant. Go up, go down or push the number pad to get a specific channel, and it worked instantaneously. But with the new system, it took three or four seconds, sometimes longer depending on the signal, to move from one channel to the next. It might as well have been three minutes! Call me impatient—because I am. I ended up switching back to my old cable and internet company.

The point is that people don't like to wait. They tolerate having to wait, but given the choice, they would rather not do so. Just do a Google search of "How long do we spend waiting in lines?" and you'll get different answers, ranging from six months to 10 years of our lives. Let's be conservative and go with six months. That's still a lot of unproductive time, and you don't get it back.

Customers dislike standing in line so much that some will pay to have someone else stand in line for them. That's one of the services offered by TaskRabbit—actually hiring someone, referred to as a "Tasker," to stand in line for you.

The point is that people would rather not wait. They want to get information quickly and easily. Consider that when you order an item from Amazon, you are immediately sent confirmation that your order has been placed.

Great customer-focused companies make it easy to get information quickly. It might be a Frequently Asked Questions page on the company's website or a video tutorial that teaches exactly what the customer needs without having to call customer support. The point is that it's quick, painless, and takes very little effort.

Companies that realize the importance of speed are gaining a competitive advantage. One salesperson calls a customer back within an hour, while another salesperson calls back in two days. Who do you think creates more trust and confidence and has a better chance of making the sale? (Obviously, that's a rhetorical question.)

In most cases, we can't be as instant as a light being switched on and off. But recognizing that people have shorter attention spans, as in a Light Switch Mentality, will remind us to react faster to our customer's needs, ideally meeting and even exceeding their expectations.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times, bestselling business author. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXXI, Shep Hyken)

This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at Shep Hyken.

 Photo courtesy of Shep Hyken.

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