It is the 21st Century. The one thing that unites all customers is that they want it easy. It has probably always been this way but the arrival of the internet and the development of disruptive technologies has exaggerated the trend and made the gulf between those who make it easier for the customer and those that don’t ever more annoying and even more noticeable.
Which side of the chasm does your company fall? The pervasive trend for instant gratification continues unabated and the laziness of the customer knows no bounds.
We recently were looking for a replacement of a fairly expensive domestic appliance. Having done the initial research on line (apparently 94% of all transactions begin with an online search), and established what we wanted to buy and the ballpark price I suggested that we should try to stay loyal to our local merchant, rather than add to the mass exodus to online shopping.
The local merchant could get the appliance for us, although they didn’t have one in stock. The price was similar enough and so we were about to purchase, but when we checked that they would deliver, connect and install the new item and take away the old item, we were told that we would have to do all of that ourselves. The online offer included, at an additional charge, of course, delivery, installation, commissioning and the safe removal and disposal of the old item. The local bricks and mortar merchant considered it to be his customer’s problem. It is no problem; he just doesn’t have this particular customer any more.
I am sure he will blame the exodus of his clientele on the Internet but what has lost him the sale has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with making the customer’s life as easy as possible. The irony is that the ability to handle the detail, to provide the right level of service; to make the customers life easier should be the province of the SME; of the businesses close to the ground, nimble, agile and caring. Seemingly that is not always the case.
We live in a world of ever increasing legislation and red tape. Things like this should provide the smaller business with the opening it needs to differentiate itself from the rest, to help guide his customer through the maze, to truly be of service and make it easy.