What does convenience mean online?
We all know what convenience means offline to our customers, but what does it mean to provide convenience online? As it turns out, extensive research has been done on the topic of convenience in business, and they include the following 3 factors.
Time utilization - Whether it saves customers time
Portability - When and where they can access the option
Pleasure - How much better it feels, or how much unpleasantness it avoids
For instance, a hair salon may currently be taking phone bookings as a way to provide convenience to customers. However, phone bookings require human attention and presence, so it does not work 24/7. It also requires manual entry and upkeep of each booking, with lost bookings or no easy way to search through past transactions. This can lead to human errors or take some time if both your schedule and that of the customer is too packed. An online alternative is to provide your customer with a booking system that intelligently assigns free time slots and service providers to each new customer who books online. Not only can your customers now book in their own time, they can also do it on any device ( PC / tablet / mobile), anywhere. To go a step further, you can even allow cancellations online, so they can cancel appointments without having to contact you. Now why would you do that?
1. The power of habit Our waking hours are limited and mostly dominated by work, relationships and other concerns we consider important. In different societies, most of us are running short of energy and time to think through our daily tasks. A business that provides more convenience simply fits in better with our lifestyle, because we don't have to think more about it. That's very powerful because for everyday services, we can try many alternatives but often default to just a few that work best for us. If you can be among the few that strive to offer the most convenience to your customers, you stand to gain a significant number of repeat customers who are both consistent and loyal. Conversely, if you do not keep up with current trends, you run a very real risk of losing your repeat customers and increasing your costs of new customer acquisition, because your competitors are now a better fit for their lifestyle than yours.
2. It affects buying decisions A study done in 2002 found that a customer's general preference for convenience makes a major impact on buying decisions. Interestingly, the study also found that the perception of convenience alone (before customers actually experienced it) affects how much they liked the service or product. If you are in a highly competitive industry offering highly similar products and services, convenience can be one of the selling points that make your brand stand out from your competition.
3. It's more productive and gives you less headaches How does convenience translate to productivity? Usually in the case of online solutions, convenience is only possible when you can automate and streamline some of your business processes. For instance, it is simple to send you an email whenever a customer books online through a contact form. However, you will still end up requiring a person to manually keep track of all the bookings, and most of the time human errors actually increase with this approach, because your staff forgets to do it since it is not convenient for them. There's also the danger of double booking because another customer already booked on a timeslot. This actually reduces convenience for both you and the customer as you have to reschedule the session again. In order for the service to be more convenient, you have to be able to automate some of these steps, and through automation, allow you to save time and complexity compared to the current process.
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