I was in the grocery store recently and decided to use the self-scan gun that you can take with you while shopping and do all of the scanning and bagging of your stuff as you pick it up. This is all under the aegis of making it easier for you by saving you time and alleviating the annoying wait in a line full of slow pokes unloading and talking. However, having done it, I think the idea that it is easier is really smoke and mirrors. Actually, I did all of the work. I shopped, scanned, bagged, and loaded my car. I did every bit of the work and I didn’t get any kind of discount for doing it – I just saved time …supposedly. The jury is still out on whether I actually saved any time at all. So much for service, there really was none, I did it all. Easy? Not so sure.
Anyway, this led me to thinking about how much making things easy has become a part of today’s customer experience. The more I thought about it, the more it became clear how big of a deal making things easy or even making it seem easy has become.
As I pondered, I began to consider why this is happening. These days it seems every business is competing with the Amazons of the world who make everything available at the click of a button and put your purchase on your doorstep within a day or so. This making-everything-easy way of doing business is potentially a bigger deal than price or even quality today.
This means business leaders need to be looking at everything that makes working with their company difficult. What’s your website like? Is it easy to find things? Can I easily contact you? Can I get to a person if I need to? Can I find products simply? Does your search function make sense? Have you gone to your site and put it through its paces? Do you really know how difficult it is to find and purchase things?
If you’re a brick-and-mortar enterprise, how easy is it to find you? How’s your parking situation? Have you driven there and parked where customers park? And that’s just the beginning.
Much like your website, how easy is it to find products? What about help, is there any and how accessible is it? And once I find what I want, how much effort must I put in to simply buy it? Are there a lot of questions about warranties and extra thingamabobs that I have to endure?
And then, once purchased, how difficult is the product to use? Once it is out of the box, can I use it or will I need to make a call or look something up on the internet? Essentially, how much set up is there or is it plug and play?
Those are a lot of things to try and determine, and I didn’t even mention the product breaking and what must be tolerated to get it fixed or replaced.
Here’s the really simple rub. Any time you make a customer do something, anything, you are adding effort and more points to the “Amazon” team’s score. Cause enough effort and you lose the game.
If you are looking for a way to really make a difference and compete in new ways, effort may just be it. More and more effortless business is looking to be the new battleground for customers and those who dismiss it may soon be behind the eight ball trying to figure out how to stay in business. Go out and speak to customers – and employees. What things are difficult? How much effort must customers put in just to do what they want to do? If it is too much, game over. So, is it time for you to put in some effort to take away effort? I think yes.
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