Convenience: The Next Competitive Differentiator
Contributed by Shep Hyken, Author of The Convenience Revolution.
If I asked you what you think is the most convenient store in the world, what would you say? The word “convenient” would probably bring to mind a convenience store such as 7-Eleven. And, yes, that type of store was designed with convenience in mind, a place to quickly and easily purchase the necessities of life, everything from a quick lunch to a gallon of milk and more. But, as easy as that is, nothing is easier than doing business with Amazon.
I believe that that the next competitive differentiator will be convenience, and I’ve written an entire book on the subject, The Convenience Revolution. Offering customers convenience is essential to keep them coming back. It takes your customer service and customer experience to the next level. A few companies have made convenience part of their core strategy – including Amazon – and by doing so have disrupted not only their direct competition, but also entire industries.
Why Is Convenience So Important?
Consumers today know what good customer service is, and they have come to expect it. We could even say that good customer service is the standard, the starting point. It’s an expectation. If you don’t provide it, be prepared to be disrupted by a competitor that does. So, if that’s the standard, then how do you break out of the norm?
That’s where the concept of convenience comes in.
If you are already delivering a good customer experience, you can take it to the next level by making your customers’ lives easier, or, in other words, by being easier to do business with. In the book, I explore six areas of convenience. And, I include dozens of real-life examples of companies that have used these concepts to disrupt their direct competition, and in some cases, entire industries. Those six areas include:
- Reducing Friction – Just be easy to do business with. This is the overarching strategy. The other five convenience strategies provide specific ways to achieve the goal of reducing friction.
- Technology – Offer customers an easy app or other technology that makes doing business with you easy.
- Self-Service – Provide quick and easy do-it-yourself solutions – or any other offering that makes the experience easier.
- Subscription – Have your product or service just show up when the customer needs it.
- Delivery – Don’t make the customer drive to your location to pick up the product. Take it to them.
- Access (Location and Hours) – Are your locations and hours of operation designed to make life easier your customer?
Forward-thinking businesses are embracing these six ideas to gain a competitive edge. Some companies focus on one or two, but the best of the best incorporate them all. And, the most successful and innovative company that is leading the way is Amazon. Let’s look at what Amazon does, and hopefully you can start to see the possibility of how to do it in your business.
Reducing Friction: Amazon makes doing business easy. Once you have an Amazon account, you can shop for millions of items all in one place. One of my favorite convenience options is its “1-Click” ordering. As you are browsing the website and find something you want to purchase, just click once and it’s on its way. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Technology: Amazon is continuously developing new, innovative ways to make customers’ lives easier. In addition to its easy shopping experience, it offers the Kindle tablet for eBooks and more, the Echo voice-controlled speaker, and AI virtual assistant Alexa. And, the Dash button is like a small doorbell that automatically orders a product that you use regularly. For example, you can have a Dash button in your laundry room that is programmed to order detergent. When you’re running low, just push the button and the detergent is on its way to your home.
Self-Service: Amazon’s online shopping experience provides user-friendly, self-service options for support, tracking orders, shipping and more. A new offering, Amazon Go, is a super convenient kind of grocery store. Customers walk into the store, pick up the items they want and walk out. There are no checkout lanes! Just get what you want and go.
Subscription: For certain consumable products, Amazon provides an option for automatic delivery called “Subscribe and Save.” Just estimate how often you would purchase the product, and set it up as a subscription. For example, if you buy a 25-pound bag of dog food every month, set it up and Amazon will deliver it to your doorstep, saving you a trip to the store.
Delivery: This one is obvious. Delivery is what Amazon is famous for. Millions of people now pay for Amazon Prime and get free two-day delivery on all kinds of products. And, delivery options have been reduced to less than two hours in many locations for many items. There have been reports that have Amazon working on 30-minute delivery using drones.
Access: Amazon is always open. You can order whatever you want, whenever you want, from your computer, phone or other Internet-connected device. And, it is building a distribution network of warehouses to streamline its operation, so it can deliver what the customer wants as quickly as possible.
Is Amazon the most convenient company on the planet? I think so, but you can decide for yourself. No one can deny that Amazon is a trailblazer when it comes to convenience and customer focus. As you look at all six of the strategies, realize that every example was for the benefit and convenience of the customer.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, has a relentless focus on customer service and convenience. In his own words: “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.”
My new book, The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty, can guide you and help you come up with ideas to create more convenience for your customers. And, you don’t have to wait until its official release – you can read it now! Go to www.BeConvenient.comto purchase today, and you will have immediate access to the e-book for free. Then, on the official release date, you will be sent the hardback book.
Are you ready to make life easier for your customers – and reap the rewards that come from doing so? Let me show you how.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and customer experience expert, keynote speaker and NYT bestselling author. Learn about his latest book The Convenience Revolution at www.BeConvenient.com.