Convenience has a significant influence on the outcome of your Customer Experience. It is crucial you ensure you are making it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Today, we are going to discuss some areas you can look at to do just that.
I didn’t like shopping for years. I hated creating a bloody list and taking it up to the store because it wasn’t convenient.
Amazon changed shopping for me. It is so convenient to go order something on the app when you think about it. Now, I enjoy shopping. This system is so much easier. So, I use it—and all the time, apparently. My wife Lorraine complains that every five minutes there is an Amazon delivery on the stoop.
Your Customers Like Their Version of Convenience, Too
Having a convenient experience is critical, and it is complicated, too. People have different ideas of what makes something convenient in a Customer Experience. Convenience is defined by your customer.
Convenience is like branding in this way. With branding, your efforts in marketing reflect the brand you want to create.
However, what you say the brand is isn’t necessarily what the customers say it is. The perception of your brand is up to them. Your customers decide what they think of your brand, from the product itself to whether you met the brand promise.
In other words, it isn’t what you say your brand is that matters; it’s what they say it is. Customer perception is your brand.
When it comes to convenience, the same thing happens. Your customers decide what is convenient. Some people may love calling the call center. To them, that is the convenient way (unless you make them wait 30 minutes on the phone). Others might like chatting online, so they define that as a convenience.
You can’t control what is convenient to every individual customer and whether you are meeting their expectations perfectly. However, there are six areas that every business can address in their experience to make it more convenient for all customers, no matter how they define it.
We discussed these six areas for making your experience convenient with Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert in our recent podcast. Hyken’s latest book, The Convenience Revolution covers these concepts in more detail.
Hyken’s Six Areas for Making Your Experience Convenient
- Reduce friction: Where in the process can you make it easier? Amazon makes it easy with “1-click ordering.” Uber reduces friction in the transportation business by increasing communication; you can see the drivers, it auto-populates your destination, and then it gives you the cost up front. Not only that, I can watch the driver arrive where I am. Compare that to a taxi. There is a lot of friction. You don’t know where they are, and they don’t know where you are going, and you don’t know how much it will cost. Uber reduced the friction.
- Institute self-service: There are times when you just want to do it yourself. If that is the case in your experience, let your customers do it. Panera does a great job of this with their self-service ordering and expediting systems where they bring it to the table. Bonus points to them, too, because they didn’t eliminate jobs to do it. What’s more, you can still go up to the cash register and order with a person if you like that better.
- Use technology: Leveraging technology to make it easy for your customers is paramount. Anytime you can use tech to make your Customer Experience for convenient, you should do it. Great examples of this are PayPal and Venmo. Transferring money from one person to the next is easy. The Amazon button is a pertinent example of simplicity, too. This video explains what the button is.
- Subscriptions are superb. Why make a customer come down to the store, or even open the app if they are going to need more of your product in a few weeks time? Subscriptions are the ultimate convenience. We all know that Netflix is convenient, you just subscribe and your entertainment is waiting for you (often with pretty spot-on suggestions). Another example could be a hardware store that sent the filters for your HVAC unit every six months, so you knew it was time to change them. I don’t know about you, but with me, that’s a task that often goes a little longer than the recommended time at my house.
- Delivery is deliberate. Getting the product to the customer is essential to convenience. Now, in a retail situation, the customer leaves with the product, so delivery doesn’t apply. However, with apps and subscriptions and online services, distribution matters a lot. Look for ways to streamline delivery to make it easy for customers.
- Provide access: Whether it’s online or in-store, you need to be available. Customer service areas should be open. Huntington Bank recognized that bankers’ hours were not convenient. They stayed open longer and on weekends and stole customers from their competitors. Walmart gets it, too. According to Hyken, 90% of the population is within ten minutes of a Walmart store.
One Caveat to this List: Relationships Are Vital.
Having emotional connections with customers is vital to convenience. It is critical to balance the technology, subscription, and automation with human contact. Other people, it seems, are the best at evoking emotions in people—at least the kind that you want to have associated with your experience.
That emotional connection you make with customers should not be replaced by convenience. Instead, it should be blended in. Your customers will appreciate it. You will too, because, in some ways, it makes up for times when you aren’t convenient. You have deposits in the emotional bank, as it were, so your customers give you credit when you make a mistake or give them a little bit of an unintentional runaround.
Amazon is selling a microwave you can use with Alexa. I want one. Does it make me lazy? Maybe. But for some of us, we see things like the automatic microwave or the Amazon button or the HVAC automatic filter delivery as conveniences that make more time for other things in life. Ostensibly, I could spend more time with my wife…who will be mad at me for ordering the microwave.
Hm. Maybe I’d better give this some more thought…
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX