Customers Want Convenience on Their Terms, Not Yours

May 15, 2013 3:25 PM  By

Convenience is continuing as a key driver in loyalty for most customers. With busier schedules and comfort with ecommerce, customers are choosing those brands who provide convenience in the way they like – not the other way around. Convenience, according to Merriam-Webster, is “something (as an appliance, device, or service) conducive to comfort or ease.”

The desire to get things done conveniently is not new. We started to bank via drive through in 1946!

The challenge with convenience is not the what, but typically the how. Businesses who only look at convenience as “slightly easier” than what’s available are missing opportunities to attract and keep more customers. Customers want ease in many areas – not just the main transaction. Focusing on convenience as a driver throughout your customer’s experience could help you attract and retain customers who love your brand.

Convenience creates loyalty online
While many retailers are now offering online ordering with conveniences such as in-store pickup, Amazon is still the king of all things ecommerce. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Amazon’s website averaged 115.2 million unique visitors per month, compared to 33.6 million visitors to Target website and 29.2 million visitors to Best Buy’s online presence, according to Statista.

Amazon took convenience to a whole new level – with one click shopping and Prime membership perks like free or discounted shipping, it’s no wonder why it’s the go-to online retailer for so many. While the brand may consider it convenient to offer in-store pickup, the consumer may not want to wait the several days and then still have to go to the store to pick up their items. Amazon’s alternative delivers the desired products quickly and all with less time online shopping. Every step of the customer experience is focused on convenience for the customer.

Tablets and mobile mean more time for users
Online grocery delivery service Peapod is ramping up mobile technologies to support the on-the-go customer. People are spending 200+ hours a year in transit, and Peapod’s COO Mike Brennan hopes this means they will use their mobile devices to order groceries to spend more of their (limited) free time the way they’d like. Peapod reports that iPad users spend more than the typical Peapod ticket of $150.

This points to the way the tablet experience, when done well, can actually create a more compelling experience for the user. The convenience of buying groceries on the train during your commute home, for example, could far outweigh the experience of actually getting the groceries delivered! Convenience is woven into the customer’s life, not just making something a tad easier than it was.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the IRL experience
Plenty of startups are gaining traction based on adding convenience through online and mobile channels. But convenience online only translates to more loyalty if the experience delivered in real life exceeds expectations, too. ZocDoc, a growing startup providing online appointment booking for patients and doctors, has an online rating system which patients use to rate their real-life experiences. While booking online might be very convenient, a patient will not return if the experience in the office was not up to their expectations. Waiting two hours in a doctor’s waiting room is inconvenient, no matter how easy it was to make the appointment.

Consider your customer’s real life
Women hold the purchasing power in the home and in the country. Today, women and men are redefining what it means to work and raise families. They are working outside of traditional offices more, while still chauffeuring children and running family errands. Ikea places kids play areas and restaurants in each store. Families out and about can stop in to pick up something, knowing the kids will be happy. Grumpy, hungry shoppers don’t have to leave the premises to get a meal. Each part of the experience is created around convenience for the shoppers, and yet the seller reaps many benefits.

Your customer wants convenience because your customer has a real life. There are many ways retailers and others have tried to offer convenience during the typical experience. The game changers, however, are the ones who created new ways of interacting with their customers.

Banking is touting mobile photo check deposits and other conveniences. An app allowing customers to sign loan documents via a phone or tablet’s touch screen eliminated the need for the banking customer to go into a branch to close a loan. After launch, First Financial Credit Union wrote more than double the monthly average in the first month, according to the Wall Street Journal.  That is a huge return on an investment in convenience for your customers.

How can you provide convenience for your customers? Making something just a bit easier can help, but changing the game to fit within your customer’s real life is what creates lasting loyalty.

Jeannie Walters is CEO at 360Connext.