The Age of Convenience

My brother’s 40th birthday was approaching and I was searching for a great gift.

The problem: he lives in New Zealand while I remain tethered to the east coast of the United States.

Sending over goods is a very expensive process and finding an online retailer that will ship to a New Zealand address with a U.S. billing address isn’t a much better option. I was running out of time and ideas. I knew what I wanted to get, but the path to success was cluttered with international obstacles.

So, I chose the path of least resistance, the most convenient option available. I opted to send money through PayPal, which allows you to transfer funds to a friend or family member with a few clicks. This works really easy when the individual is in your country, but PayPal was able to easily handle the transfer across the globe with little effort.

While sending money wasn’t my first choice, it was the easiest choice. Thus, it was the best choice.

Making Life Easy

Today, we live in an age of convenience. We live in a time where we seek out the best possible way to achieve an outcome. Often times, the “best” option comes down to one that helps us realize our goal fast and simple.

Every day, brilliant minds are working on new inventions that make life easier. Think about all the innovations you see around you. Most are created to remove some pain point we all face. People generally dislike house chores. Dusting. Vacuuming. Sweeping. So inventors created the Roomba to do it all for you.

The Keurig took the pain and mess away from making your morning coffee. Cruise control made it better to drive long distances. Evernote made it easier for you to organize your business notes.

It has become an expectation. What new technology can remove the effort I face to complete a task?

In the Pixar movie Wall-E, this evolving mentality is taken to a hyperbolic result, where atrophied humans are carted around on hovercrafts, having escaped every aspect of physical work in life.

While we may not ever reach that humorous result, every aspect of life is getting made easier by technology and the big winners are companies that make everyday tasks simple.

Take payments for example. It can be as extreme as sending money to New Zealand, or as simple as buying gas, a morning cup of coffee, groceries, or an item from Amazon. The fact is, we make lots of payments and companies are inventing ways to make the process more convenient for customers.

Painless Payments

The race to make payments more efficient for customers is well underway. Major companies have instituted easier, more secure ways to make payments to merchants and friends. At the touch of your literal fingertip, you can make payments with Apple Pay, one of the more established players in the market.

Other companies are following suit. MasterCard recently launched MasterPass, a digital wallet for online purchases. Its main message is that it makes the payment process fast, simple, and convenient. MasterPass achieves this by allowing users to “skip the hassle, and even typos, of filling out your information every time”.

Samsung entered the mobile payment space with Samsung Pay, touting the ability to pay almost anywhere with a tap or swipe.

Starbucks, one of the early adopters of mobile payments in its stores, continues to innovate in the market to make things even easier for its pumpkin spice loving drinkers. They launched a mobile order feature, allowing you to order and buy your coffee prior to your arrival, allowing you to quickly pick up your java jolt and bypass the line.

Convenience Matters

Making it easy for customers isn’t just altruistic on the company’s part. It is about sustainable commerce. More and more, customers are expecting that the effort it takes to do business with a company be lessened.

Organizations far and wide market their ability to offer outstanding service–and for good reason. However, service is an element of business we have come to expect. And it is not always the greatest predictor of repeat or loyal business.

The Harvard Business Review took a long look at how companies can create happy, long-term customers. They found this occurs when they help them solve problems quickly and easy. What does “make it easy” mean? It means removing the obstacles in their path.

Companies used to focus primarily on either customer satisfaction metrics (how happy are you with the product or service ) or net promoter scores (how likely are you to recommend the product or service). However, the customer effort score is becoming increasingly important to not only satisfaction but the likelihood of repeat business. The most important metric may vary depending on industry and type of product, and likely a mix of all three is important.

For more on how customer effort scores can create long-term value, check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.

When it comes to creating a company, a payment process, or a mobile application that has staying power, it is essential to identify the roadblocks people experience during the journey. From getting shaving blades through an online subscription service to ordering coffee without waiting in line, you must deliver a better experience with each development.

Customers no longer just want your product to be good. They expect it to make their life easier.