Time Matters For Our Local Businesses In This Global Economy
It was time for me to clean up, close up some browser windows … Having worked on it (whatever “it” was) for the better part of an hour, I was hoping for an escape. Inadvertently, I clicked on the Greenwich Time link on my Chromium bookmarks bar. Playfully, I thought to myself, “What time is it?” … and the idea was born. Time to write a post with just that title!
When Does Time Really Matter?
The reason I have a link to the Greenwich Time site within easy reach is obvious: I need to know what time it is around the world at various times throughout the day. What?! That wasn’t obvious to you? Ahh, read on and it will be!
Ten to one, all the work you do every day is not online. In many cases, while our local business activities are nearby, we’re also conducting business activities that span numerous continents. This necessitates knowing what time it is on both domestic and international fronts.
Even the online portion of work-related activities sometimes require converting local time to another time zone. Presented below are a few scenarios I’ve encountered that required me to figure out the time elsewhere.
Hash Tag MeetUps
From time to time, I like to sit in on one of those Hash Tag Meetup — various meetings online where you get to ask, answer, or just watch the stream fly by while some bloglebrity (that’s a blogger celebrity-type personality) is interviewed or shares some nuggets of business gold via Twitter.
Throughout that day you’ll see Tweets from time-challenged persons (like me) asking, “Um, 4pm Central Standard Time? What time is that on the East Coast?”
Daylight Saving Time Since 2007: Daylight Saving Time begins for most of the United States at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March. Time revert[s] to standard time at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. — Greenwich Mean Time
Factor in Daylight Saving Time — which apparently changed in 20071 — and keeping up with the time just becomes laborious.
Finally, I grabbed the link that allowed me to quickly find out what time it was — in every time zone — in the U.S. I click it enough times during the week for it to earn a spot on my bookmarks toolbar, right at eye level!
Before we leave the subject of Twitter and Time, BufferApp released some interesting (if not quite scientific) stats about the best times to tweet to get more engagement.2 Unless you can translate the recommended times into your own timezone, you’ll miss out on that one!
Time in The Rest of The World
Now, what about keeping up with the time in the rest of the world? For the small business owner or blogger who barely has time to take a quick break, knowing the time in the U.K. or Perth is hardly important. Except when you need technical support or want to have a phone conference with a client.
You Need Technical Support
You find out how much what time it is matters when you need customer service or technical support to solve a pressing issue or answer an important question.
Consider this typical scenario:
You run into a problem, so you call tech support, only get a recording. Checking their website, you find chat is offline. You decide to pen an email.
It’s 9am, so you figure you’ll be a good customer and give the tech people a few hours to respond. You check at 11am, then again after lunch. By now you’re a bit miffed that they haven’t had the decency to send you a response, other than that automated thing which you sorta appreciate, but come on!
Finally (late afternoon), you realize that they’re on the other side of the world! Nine o’clock a.m. your time is 9pm their time. So even if you wait ALL DAY for an answer, one will not be forthcoming until the following day!
Knowing the time on the other side of the world can save you quite a few frustrating moments, and ensure you pick up the phone when somebody is likely to be awake on the other end.
… if you post your hours and expected response time, your clients will be more comfortable contacting you. If you post 9-5 EST and they shoot you an email at 7pm EST they will be less likely to sit by their computer waiting for a response. Due to your posted hours they will expect an email the following morning.3
On the flip side of this, it wouldn’t hurt for vendors to have 24-7 customer support, but some companies really do keep bankers’ hours. More realistically, posting customer support hours — along with the time zone — goes a long way toward helping customers remember when to seek interactive support.
Did I hear someone say, “Time is money!”
Time Matters In Client Interactions
Technical support is not the reason you need to pay more attention to what time it is on another continent. The level of customer service and client interaction you give could very well be impacted.
Perhaps . . . You’ve just finished that key proposal and you’re ready to fire off the email, drop the hard copy in the FedX guy’s arms, and take a breather.
So, you fire off the email, pass the package off to the courier, hop on the trolley for your fav coffee with the whipped topping. Yes!
Then you realize that one item in the cost projections could use some more explanation. You added a note on the budget, but this client is big on minutiae and undoubtedly will want to talk about it.
Rather than wait for him to discover he’s got questions, you whip out your smartphone, say the name, wait for the connection, then hear … “our office hours are” …
Ooops! In your excitement (just like most other times), you forgot. Oh how you hate the “when I’m sleep, they’re awake” game you end up playing with clients across the continent or on the other side of the world.
This is the place where I convince you to buy an international Rolex! But since the Rolex isn’t in this month’s budget, let’s settle for an international time clock on the computer (or links to virtual clocks) and a smart around-the-world app on the mobile.
How do you stay atop the changing times?
How do you keep up with time around the world? Share your techniques, special apps, and any tools that help you know what time it is in places around the world that matter to you. Have your say in the comments area.
- USA Time Zone Converter – Convert between United States Time Zones
- Phone area code lookup local time zone
- Quick glance at the Sunclock from World Time Zones
- Day and Night World Map
- Time converters for All Countries :: USA
Canada :: Australia :: Africa :: South America :: U.K.
- Set Your Computer Clock Via the Internet
- The World Clock by Orlin Kolev (iPhones and iPads)
- Steven Sande’s roundup of clock apps for the iPad
[This is the first entry in the What Time Is It Series. Part 2 is Timers – Not Clocks – Make The World Go-Round.
- The Greenwich Mean Time website is the place to be if you want to know what time it is! Daylight Saving Time, for the U.S. and its territories, is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the state of Arizona (not the Navajo Indian Reservation, which does observe). Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, due to its large size and location in three states. [↩ go back]
- BufferApp Blog, What are the best times to tweet to get more engagement?, March 2, 2011, was based on research by Dan Zarella and Gary McCaffry. [↩ go back]
- Customer Management Hack #2, Designated Customer Service Hours from the Home Business Hacks series. [↩ go back]