Time Presentation For MSPs
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Time Presentation For MSPs
Some interesting results came back from an academic paper in 2022 by 3 researchers Jeong Hwang and Suk. Their research studied 2129 participants which showed how the presentation of time intervals, either as a duration or a calendar date influences task scheduling.
To be clear, a duration presentation means saying something such as “X will happen in 10 days” whereas a calendar presentation means saying something like “X will happen on August 1st”).
Now, what’s fascinating is that the study found that people are more likely to schedule tasks earlier when the time interval is described as a duration rather than a date. This is because a duration description tends to evoke the concept of “Moving Time,” making people feel as if the time is approaching them, which can induce feelings of anxiety and prompt them to act sooner. This concept was tested across various contexts, including college students beginning a writing assignment and consumers using coupons.
To cut a long story short, people tend to have 2 ways of conceptualising time
- Moving Time: This means it feels like The future moves toward us.
- Moving Observer: This means it feels like We move toward the future.
So – just to cement these two concepts, remember that :
1. A duration description (e.g. saying “X” will happen in 10 days) tends to evoke the concept of “Moving Time,” making people feel as if the time is approaching them, which prompts them to act sooner..
2 A date description (e.g. saying “X” will happen on May 10th) tends to evoke the concept of “Moving Observer” which make them feel less anxious and motivated to act quickly that the duration description.
Now, let’s consider how this research can be practical and beneficial for a managed service provider :
1 – Marketing Strategies: MSPs can use duration-based time descriptions in their marketing strategies to encourage potential clients to act sooner. For example, a promotional offer could be presented as ending in a certain number of days, rather than on a specific date, to encourage quicker action. For example, saying something like “this offer for free system upgrades finishes in 10 days” would have more urgency than “this offer for free system upgrades finishes by August 1st”
2 – Free Trial Periods: In the context of free trial periods – maybe for SaaS services, MSPs can use duration-based time descriptions to encourage potential clients to start using the service sooner. For example, saying “Your free trial ends in 7 days” might prompt users to start using the service earlier than saying “Your free trial lasts until May 10”. This could encourage users to explore the service more thoroughly and increase the likelihood of them becoming paying customers.
3 – Task Scheduling: MSPs can use this understanding to encourage clients to schedule tasks or services earlier. By presenting time intervals as durations (e.g., “The service will be completed in 10 days”), clients may be more likely to schedule tasks sooner than if a specific date is given (e.g., “The service will be completed by August 1st”).
4 – Project Management: When managing projects, MSPs can use duration-based time descriptions to encourage clients or staff or suppliers to start projects earlier. This could lead to more efficient project timelines and improved client satisfaction. In this scenario, you’d say something like “this project is scheduled to be finished within 2 weeks”.
The list of examples could go on and on. Basically, you can use this reframing approach from everything from service delivery when support tickets come in to how long an outsourced service engineer has to wait until their invoice gets paid and everything in-between.
Of course, the converse is also true so without going through all the previous examples, we could just look at a scenario when you’re providing someone with a product such as a laptop for a month especially which they may be paying for. This means a date-based approach (i.e. “You can have this until August 1st) might make the event seem more distant and less stressful compared to a duration-based approach such saying they can hold onto the product for 30 days – even though the amount of rental time is exactly the same. This can give more perceived value.
So, in summary the key here is to understand your client’s perception and use the appropriate time framing to manage and satisfy their expectations.
These examples may of course all seem like small nudges but like always when you add up all the one per-cents here and three per-cents there, sooner or later you’ll make big impacts to your bottom line – all for no extra overhead. So why not just add this to your list of things to review when you look at optimising your business from time to time.
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