Technology has spoiled us, especially when it comes to web and mobile.
We are better informed and connected than ever before, but also far more demanding. We expect to get what we want, when we want it. If not, we quickly move on. Research has shown that 18% of online shoppers abandon their carts if the page load time is too slow. Think about how many millions of dollars in transactions are lost because consumers are impatient about fractions of seconds. Think about how that applies to your business.
We not only expect speed from our technology, but a personal touch as well. When a website or mobile app welcomes us with a personal message addressing us by name, we generally feel better about the brand and the experience that’s to come. It’s only natural: In an increasingly de-personalized world, we crave acknowledgement, even in small ways. Those small gestures are meaningful.
For small businesses, these are critical lessons. Speed, personalization, and convenience are essential to your engagement with your customers and to your business’ growth. If you don’t recognize the new world of heightened consumer expectations that we live in, you won’t be able to keep up with your customers’ wants and demands. And consumer loyalty today is more ephemeral and at-risk than ever.
Pricing plays an important role in this context. It’s nothing new that comparison shopping—and the whole showrooming phenomenon—can make it difficult for small businesses to compete with larger players that have so much more buying power and can live with thinner margins. But it’s important for businesses to remember that consumers are also willing to pay for convenience, ease, and the lack of friction in their lives. The remarkable success of Uber is a perfect example of that, as Andrew Ross Sorkin recently wrote about in The New York Times: "The ease of pressing a button on your mobile phone and having a car magically appear can quickly become addictive. (I know this well—I have the bills to prove it.)”
This is where consumer behavior becomes interesting. On the one hand, people become less price-sensitive given the magical simplicity of Uber. Yet they also become less price-sensitive when waiting in a long line at Starbucks for a personalized drink. Here are two great brands with opposite storylines, but with the same payoff: We are willing to pay for friction—and the lack of friction—as long as the emotional and physical reward is worth it.
This brings us to the local service industry. For spas, beauty salons, health clinics, yoga studies, and other service providers, it’s important to keep in mind the power and value of extending the pampering experience as much as possible. Smart luxury marketers are hyper-focused on that. This is why Virgin Upper Class picks you up in a chauffer-driven limo, and why Mercedes and BMW have invested so much in their post-purchase service businesses. The service moment needs to be surrounded by a heightened experience before and after the event itself.
When your customers can book an appointment for a manicure or massage simply and flawlessly through your mobile app, that marks the beginning of their pampering experience. Long before the consumer enters the store, they are experiencing a service that helps them feel good about your business. Letting users make reservations and schedule appointments while on-the-go gives business owners the ability to increase productivity and profits, while managing a labor force more efficiently. But more importantly, it triggers a positive response for consumers, even before a service is provided. When consumers walk in with a smile instead of a frown, that’s how businesses are built, reputations are nourished, and loyalty is achieved in today’s world of impossibly demanding consumers.
A mobile appointment-booking technology is more than just a convenience for your consumers. It’s an appointment with the future for your business.
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