-By Shep Hyken
What is one of the most valuable commodities in the world? Time!
There is an old saying that goes something like this: "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." This is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the concept of a better mousetrap is a great metaphor for a reason to continuously innovate.
In a competitive business world, price, selection, customer service and innovation are major reasons customer might choose one company over another. We can now add another concept to the mix, and that is convenience. (And, by the way, the reason I included innovation to my mix of competitive reasons is that it takes innovation to create convenience.)
Many will argue that convenience is part of customer service or the customer experience. I'll agree with that, but it is becoming so important that I'm willing to separate it out. There are businesses that use convenience as their sole competitive differentiator.
There is a reason that convenience stores are called convenience stores. Think about it. They are smaller than other retailers that carry similar items. They aren't necessarily the lowest price. Yet, somehow they don't just survive against their larger competitors. They thrive. Why? Because they are convenient. They are in the neighborhood. They are on the way to or from work or on the right side of the street. They aren't as crowded, so a customer can get in and out much quicker. For what they lack in the selection of merchandise, they make up for in convenience.
If you want to learn about how a company competes on convenience, take a look at one of the biggest companies on the planet, Amazon. They are a case study for convenience.
When you think of Amazon, you might think of low prices and big selection. I can name dozens of other companies, both online and brick-and-mortar, that do the same thing. Amazon knows it competes with all retailers. So, they broke out of the low price and big selection game with convenience. They want to save time and make life easier for their customers. They created the Amazon Prime program that gets merchandise shipped to you, without shipping charges, in two days or less. They created the Dash button that allows you to purchase merchandise with the simple push of a button. They want to eliminate as many steps as possible from the time a customer is thinking about purchasing a product until that product is delivered. And, now they are setting up distribution centers throughout major cities that can get merchandise to you in two hours or less. Speed and simplicity is what they are about.
So, regardless of the type of business you're in, how can you create convenience for your customers? What would your customers define as convenience? Figure that out and you have another competitive strategy that will take you and your business to the next level.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ Customer Service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken.
Andrea Michaels is founder and president of Extraordinary Events, a multi-award-winning international event agency based in Los Angeles. Andrea is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life and an in-demand speaker and leading voice in the special events industry. She may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.