In a previous post, I wrote on the importance of building a business that is focused on serving your customers in the most convenient way possible. The easiest way to do this is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. To figure out what you can do to make their transactions with you faster, more flexible, and more attractive. Along with speed and friendliness, nearly 80% of consumers consider convenience as the most important element of a positive customer experience and 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience.
This is why business owners must focus on providing convenience, from the board room to the staff who interacts with the customer. Products should be developed with an eye on not just providing convenience, but also on ease of usage. There is little sense in spending a lot of money to develop a product and bring it to market, only to have customers abandon you for your competition because your product is too complicated to use.
Your customers crave convenience.
It is advisable to employ an inside-out and an outside-in approach to measuring your business’ level of convenience. An inside-out approach will allow you to address unavoidable hurdles such as company policy and legal requirements, while an outside-in approach will help you see your business through the eyes of the customer. While most businesses do the first, the second is what is most important. Convenience after all, is defined by the customer.
While some customers like personalized service and do not mind the extra time it takes to deliver because this makes them feel valued, others may prefer a one size fits all style, as long as they get what they need.
In general, 88% of customers appreciate customer experience as a key differentiator for businesses, meaning that most of your customers don’t only notice how convenience your service is but will use it as a metric to decide if to stick with you or move on to a competitor.
Critical convenience-building areas to focus on:
Every customer wants to have a great service experience when they contact your business. When you build significant convenience into your interactions with your customers, then you stand a chance of disrupting your immediate competition and perhaps give your business a chance to be a market leader.
A few things you could do to significantly improve your convenience index include:
Reduce friction: make it easy for people to buy from you. Identify obstacles that stand between your customers’ money and your business. Look at your whole process from the customers’ point of view and eliminate unnecessary steps. Whenever the effort required from the customer in order to do business with you is too high, it signals a bottleneck that needs to be removed. For instance, you may consider allowing online purchases from a guest profile without demanding that customers go through a registration process. Alternatively, allow third party logins with Gmail or Facebook credentials. Ultimately, reducing friction implies that you reduce customer effort needed to complete a purchase or transaction cycle.
Introduce Do-It-Yourself options: Sometimes, a customer does not want to go through the trouble of making a phone call or sending a mail (and most certainly not coming to your office), before getting some issues fixed. This can cover anything from password resets to online registration for flights and events, renewing subscriptions, and even correcting orders on online shops. If customers can efficiently handle a business process safely and securely without contacting you, then you should give them the platform to do just that. It will also give you the time to focus on providing better service to the customers who do make contact.
Go to the customer: Some of your customers may be too busy to come to you even though they need what you are selling. Being able to reach them is essential. For businesses that offer services, consider offering home or office service options. For physical products, make arrangements to get purchased goods to customers. This is where delivery services come in. Brick and mortar shops are increasingly taking their businesses online, to social media where a significant number of their customers gather every day. And in order to make sure they get what is purchased, delivery options are attached to all online purchases. Consequently, customers can now make purchases on the go or from the comfort of their homes.
Take advantage of technology: In a world of fast changing technology, you cannot afford not to go digital. Look for ways to improve your business process by employing better technology. As the banking industry developed, significant technology such as ATMs were adopted to improve convenience. These days, mobile apps allow for easy banking. Being able to innovate by weaving your business process into existing technology can become a major competitive advantage for you. The whole online shopping industry is firmly riding this wave. While you do not need to break the bank to have cheap AI run automatic chat boxes and email subscription pop up boxes on your website, bigger businesses pay millions for big data, customer analytics and digital integration. Suffice it to say that if you are not making a move, then you are being left behind.
Human interaction: Your most important asset is your staff. Employees have a significant impact on convenience and are the main drivers of customer experience. Every business that understands this tends to do better in the long run. Empower your employees to make decisions without having to go through a stringent approval process. Knowledgeable employees will know what to do and how to do it well. This ensures your customers have excellent service and will keep coming back. 46% of all consumers will abandon a brand if the employees are not knowledgeable and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want more employee interaction in the future. Having friendly, enthusiastic, and well-trained staff across all customer touch points will never go out of fashion.
The Convenience Culture
More than a list of things to do, convenience is a culture that touches on every part of a business. As time goes on, more people will migrate to more convenient options. Kodak was upstaged by digital cameras, Uber has completely revolutionised the cab industry, as Amazon did to online shopping. When you are guided by this mindset in your day to day running of whatever business you are currently involved in, you stand a chance of keeping your customers and taking some from your competition.