Over the course of the last half century, we’ve seen an increased emphasis placed on leisure time. From books like “The 4-Hour Workweek,” to an actual decrease in daily work hours, our culture has decided that the sunrise till sunset model of the nineteenth century is no longer viable. Instead, a plethora of products have cropped up with the aim of reducing the amount of time we spend on “tasks”. These essential, yet time consuming activities include laundry, grocery shopping, dog walking, cleaning, mailing, moving, home repair, and basically any other errand or chore imaginable. From TaskRabbit, to Washio, to Uber, apps that give consumers back their time are becoming more and more popular.
Aside from saving users time, what all of these services have in common is that they live on mobile. Smartphones are the new convenience platform. In fact, based on where The Internet of Things is projected to go, they could become the command center for our entire lives.
Time Lives On Mobile
What this means is a changing consumer expectation about mobile services. As Ted Schadler, author of the Mobile Mind Shift said, “If you are a company you owe it to yourself and to your customers to put them at the center of the mobile experience.” Why? Because most of the population has already undergone the mobile mind shift: they expect tasks and information, in context, immediately. In other words, they expect convenience.
If convenience is paramount, how do you ensure that your product fulfills this promise? Users want their time returned to them when they use mobile: they want fast, easy, simple, service. And in the world of customer care, this means ensuring that your customer doesn’t actually have to interact with a person.
Customer Care Should Be Invisible
In other words, it’s the complete opposite of what it was in-store. Take Nordstrom, for example: they are known for their fantastic, personal customer service. Each customer is greeted upon entering, asked if they need help, is given a changing room the minute they take an item off the rack, and is assisted with sizes and styles as they try items on. The customer service representative enables the customer to successfully buy the product. On mobile, though, if you are talking to a person, that means that you have interrupted your app experience (to get on a call, send an email, etc), and are therefore losing time. The new “Nordstrom Experience” is all about self service.
Take the best concierge or customer service representative, and put them in your app. Shyp, for instance, a mobile app that allows users to ship packages without ever having to visit a post office, is all about returning their customers’ time, for an extremely small fee of $5. In this scenario, you save time by not having to drive or Uber to the post office, not waiting in line, not having to talk to the post office person, not having to pay, and finally not having to Uber back to the home or office. You never need to speak with a customer service representative; all you need is an excellent onboarding experience and a product that delivers on its value proposition.
Customer service is no longer about making sure that someone is there to speak to you, to answer your questions– because that is still time consuming. You have to get on the phone, be placed on hold, etc, and that is not convenient. What is convenient is offering service through your app that allows you the best possible way to quickly find the answer to your question. This includes an intuitive product, in-app FAQs, and super solid onboarding. The first time a customer enters your app they should quickly be able to understand how to use it, and if/when they get confused or need help, there should be an easy way for customers to self-serve without leaving the app.
Smartphones Are The New Convenience Platform
This is simply the next step in our cultural shift towards an ever-increasing reliance on the mobile device to save us time. The medium promises speed, context, information, and service, and it’s important that brands follow through with these promises on mobile customer service.
With convenience as a service we can minimize our time spent on mundane tasks, and maximize time spent on our passions.