Do you like waiting?

I was in an accounting firm the other day (think a top 10 Australian firm) to visit a professional referred to me by a friend. My friend’s friend was kind enough to help me with some input on a project I’m working on on behalf of a client.

It was just before 11am as I exited the elevator and walked to the reception desk. After announcing myself to the receptionist, I was asked to take a seat in the lounge chairs which occupied the space in front of the elevators. So I did.

The chairs were comfortable, the surrounding artwork was interesting and the coffee table presented some eclectic reading choices. There was a woman, probably in her mid-fifties, seated opposite me reading a newspaper. She looked like a client. Although dressed neatly she didn’t give the air of a supplier/vendor to the firm in any way. She had nothing but a handbag. I noticed her sitting there when I got out of the elevator.

Like most people I don’t like waiting. Please don’t judge me too harshly but I’m the type of person who views punctuality as a virtue and lateness as  a sin. Unless there is some dire emergency or major reason I’m always on time for business engagements. If, by chance, I’m running late, I always call the person I’m scheduled to meet and apologise and tell them that I’m running 5 or 10 minutes late – its just the way I’m wired.

Now the chap I was meeting was doing me a favour so I really didn’t mind that although our meeting was scheduled for 11am he had not come to the foyer until about 11.15am. It was ok.

What wasn’t ok was that this woman, quietly seated, had obviously been waiting longer than me for her person to arrive. He had just arrived before my chap came. Given his apologies and the way he related to the woman it was obvious to me that she was either a prospective client or a new one; otherwise he wouldn’t have said, “Nice to meet you.”

My question is this. The woman was there before I was and her chap arrived just before mine. She was waiting at the very least
15 minutes. In reality she had most likely waited longer. Is this any way to treat a client, let alone a new one you would like to impress and have a long term relationship with?

Do you like waiting? Don’t answer that right away. Count to 900 and then tell me (Hint: 15 minutes = 900 seconds 🙂 )

Talk with you next time,

James