According to the 18th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham all human beings by default act to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Customer engagement is built on this very principle. The ratio of pleasure and pain in the user experience determines customer convenience, which in turn affects how customers make decisions about what products to buy, what services to use, and with what providers to engage.
Therefore it’s up to businesses to go out their ways to indulge in any whims or expectations customers may have while removing any unpleasantries that cause discomfort in the customer journey. Convenience is first and foremost a matter of perception. What is perceived as convenient will vary from person to person and depends on timing as well. What can be perceived as convenient in the morning, might differ from what a person finds to be convenient in the evening.
Brown³ (1989) suggested that convenience lies in the service instead of the individual and breaks up convenience along the five dimensions of a service: time, place, acquisition, use, and execution. Clulow & Reimers⁴ (2009) found that convenience in retail derives from minimizing the costs of time, space, and effort. Also to take into account are the costs of the experience (in money, effort, and other terms), a true understanding of the stages of the experience, and an understanding of customers as their needs and behaviours change from context to context¹.
And why is it important?
Let’s say you are going abroad but your Mastercard isn’t activated in the country you’re visiting. Based on your location you receive a push notification on your smartphone with the unfortunate update and you’re asked if you wish to activate your Mastercard there on the spot. Simply by pressing a button. This is the sort of convenience in customer communications that gets customers over the line and into your corner.
The functionalities on your customer smartphone application might be top notch, if your customers can’t work out how to use them they will gladly choose for the competition that might have less bells and whistles but excels in intuitiveness. That’s how the level of convenience determines usage.
Also nowadays travellers can print their boarding passes at home or at the airport. This moves the effort onto the customers, but for many of them the perceived convenience of being in control outweigh the additional time they have to put in. As such more work for the user translates to less service costs for the airline companies.
How to achieve UX convenience
Finding out what your customers’ expectations are as well as their individual needs and habits, will get you a long way in tuning your customer experience to achieve maximum convenience. Once you do this, there are four convenience strategies you must understand or implement: actual convenience, flow, perception and control.
Time and effort are what determine actual convenience. To sign a document you no longer need to download a pdf to print it, sign it, scan it and mail it back. Via our smartphones authorization is possible in no time at all. When you visit the mall to buy a new pair of shoes, chances are you end up buying an entire new garderobe. That’s how flow not only creates convenience, it also stimulates cross- and upselling.
Customers with higher expectations of complexity are more likely to perceive a service as simple or convenient. By providing customers with the tools to control and more deeply engage in their experience, you can create a perception of improved convenience when, in fact, you have decreased actual convenience by increasing the customer’s workload.
Understanding your customers starts with knowing what exactly they want and need. Indulging in these preferences is one thing, knowing your customers so well that you can reach out when they need you to before they even realize themselves, is something else. This, you could say, is convenience at its finest.
The contents of your communications also go hand in hand with the channel by which they reach your customers. The digital era has provided us with numerous ways to create touchpoints and new channels so it’s important to select the right channel for each communication.