Choose your deadline
Tobias Schelle September 13, 2013

This is the 5th post of my 30 days of honest writing challenge.

At 24Slides we are sometimes very busy. And sometimes things are slow. It does create some challenges when you have a fixed amount of people on the team. What is the right number of people? What happens to the creativity when we are running on full throttles? It’s a good thing being busy. But if it last too long, it can also turn into stress. That’s not a good thing. One of the things I’ve noticed when I talk with customers is that while most people like a quick turnaround it’s not all who actually need it. In fact, I think the result of a design could be much better given a slightly longer deadline as we get the chance to put a little more creativity into it.  There are many studies around this topic, but most of them concludes that more time pressure = less creativity. I think that’s true to some extend.

I’ve been thinking whether there is a win-win here. For some businesses and jobs, it has a really high value to have  fast turnaround on a presentation. But others just want their corporate presentation redesigned. If it’s this week or the next, it doesn’t make a huge difference.

Choosing your deadline

This is when I thought it would be clever to let people choose their deadline. A fast deadline has a higher price point.  A longer deadline has a lower price point. If it has a high value for people to get it faster than average, then they are also be willing to pay more. On the other hand, if they don’t value the fast deadline i.e. it’s not a need, then you might as well choose the lower price point and wait a few more days. For us, the win is that the people who can wait for 4-5 days leave capacity for the people who need a fast turnaround. I expect it would put less pressure on the team when things are boiling. I see it as resource optimization that gives a higher design quality (because of less time pressure), and turnarounds that are much more aligned with the actual needs of customers. It sounds good, but we’ll never know until we try it out.

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The deadline slider

A couple of weeks ago, I bumped into a site called emailcraft.com – they basically design email templates at a fixed price. A concept very similar to 24Slides, just with different product. They have a feature where you basically drag the pointer on a slider and choose the deadline you wish. It looks good, and works great. I’d like to create something similar on the order page.

deadline slider

It’s a brilliant way to visualize it. As we are already running a test on the order page, I would like to wait to implement this. But my hope is that we can offer an even quicker turnaround of 24 hours for returning customers at some point. We will have to evaluate the effect on the capacity first though. I’m pretty sure we won’t offer it to customers coming for the first time. We don’t know their style and preferences, and usually the dialogue before we start designing is really important to get a great result.

One challenge to overcome

There is one challenge we need to overcome to make sure this will work out. When people choose e.g. a 72-hour deadline, of course it’s expected that a finished presentation is ready at that time from when the order is submitted. The reality is that sometimes we need to ask clarifying questions before we begin designing. That will push the time we begin designing and therefore also the final deadline. The challenge is that some customers are really quick replying back others are really slow, but the expectation is the same – 72 hours from when the order is submitted. For the same reason, it doesn’t make sense to incorporate an average time for clarifying questions as it differs too much.

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The best way I can think of is to make it really clear that the deadline is from when we approve the order. And also make a promise on when we approve the order if we have all the information we need. I imagine this could be 7 hours. If we don’t have the information we need, we’ll contact the customer for any clarifying questions, also within 7 hours. We are covering 18 hours per day, so it will most likely be quicker, but I rather set the expectation low and over-deliver.

Do you like the idea of being able to choose your deadline? Do you have inputs to how we can make this an even greater win-win? Leave a comment below.

1 Comments

  1. Great idea. Not sure how it would work in practice; for instance maybe too many would conclude that they really don’t need the work done for months but will order now for the discount. Would that cause the same backlog and stress anyway, but delayed? If I make my deadline next year – will you owe me money? Just kidding. Perhaps have three sliding scales; Time, Quality, Price.
    Then you could choose two of the three:
    You can have it fast and cheap but it won’t be high quality.
    You can have it fast and high spec but it won’t be cheap.
    You can have it high spec and cheap but it won’t be fast.

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