Business of convenience

With customers demanding higher levels of convenience, how can that need be met?

In a fast-paced world, customers have grown to want things fast. Without leaving their homes, they can order items online, often with just one click on their phones, which will arrive the next day. Expectations of things being easy have risen and convenience is of high importance to consumers, even more so than value in some cases. Therefore, the easier things are for the customer, the more successful a company will be.

What is meant by convenience?

Convenience is about a service or product being delivered easily, quickly and with minimal disruption to the busy life of the customer. With consumers quick to review businesses, it is important to meet the needs of their clients and ensure they are happy. The easier the experience is, the more the customer is likely to recommend the company to others, give it good reviews online and use it again. In a world where reviews are also easily accessed and referred to by potential customers, getting it right is important.

However, as each company is different – and with the wide range of services and products being offered being so diverse – there is no magic formula or convenience checklist. Therefore, each company needs to assess what would be good customer service for their business. For example, those offering a service will need to provide different things to someone creating a product.

The best way to assess convenience is by doing some research and asking the customers what they want and for their feedback after dealing with the company. Once the customers’ needs in buying or using your service are understood, you can check how customer friendly you are.

How quickly do they want products? How much would they pay for postage? How do they want to pay?

Each one will perceive convenience in different ways but there will be commonalities relevant for the company. The business can then tailor the experience to the customers’ needs.

Ways companies can increase convenience

Embrace technology

Technology is progressing rapidly and whether you sell a product or provide a service, there are many ways it can be used to make the customer’s experience more convenient.

  • Up-to-date websites – Websites can be used to promote any business and display details about everything from prices to contact details. Making sure the website products are current and all the goods or services are available is important, as is as much information as possible on how long things will take to make, cost and be delivered. People can be more willing to use the internet to order or ask questions so enquiry forms could be added to websites as well as information about how to contact the relevant people.
  • Make payments easier – Simple things like offering contactless payment or Apple Pay when customers pay makes purchasing more enjoyable. Online, having the facility to use PayPal could also make things run smoothly.
  • Customers can use apps for easy-tracking of deliveries. Send them tracking numbers after posting items so they will know when their order will arrive.

Communicate well

There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than not being given honest, up-to-date and relevant information. If they can’t get hold of you, or find communication difficult and unreliable, or the seller unfriendly and patronising, they are likely to go elsewhere with their custom. Keep in mind the following to ensure communication is clear and simple:

  • The consumer will want to know basic information about how much things will cost and when their product will arrive. Consider how you will get that information to them, either by email or phone calls.
  • Customers are impatient! Staff should respond to emails within a certain time and answer phone calls or return messages promptly.
  • Be prepared for and happy to answer questions from the basic to the complicated – and happy to answer without being patronising.
  • Consider having an automatic email reply for the initial email or purchase, thanking the customer for their query and explaining that their purchase or email will be responded to within a certain period.
  • Be reachable via several methods, such as telephone and email.

Delivery and returns

  • Have a range of delivery options that are relevant to your product or service, from pick-up at your workplace to a range of postage options that meet the consumer’s need.
  • Be transparent with delivery costs.
  • Ensure your delivery costs are fair and competitive.
  • Returns – people want to know that if they don’t like something, it will be easy to return. Consider what returns policy you will have that will make it work for you.

Overall, a few improvements to customer service could help boost a company’s reputation and custom. If businesses can make the purchasing experience as quick, easy and smooth as possible, the customer will happily use them again and recommend their services and goods to others.

 

WORDS: Donna Findlay