Why time is the new currency of commerce

Winning customers' hearts and wallets is no longer about their product, service or transaction.
25 January 2019

Do you use your customers’ time wisely? Source: Shutterstock

The days where we all used to invest our time into projects that would save ourselves money is already just a distant memory.

There is an increasing realization that there any many things we can do to earn more cash. But time is the only nonrenewable resource and we need to use it wisely.

Time is now considered by many to be their most precious commodity. A combination of technology and our continuously rising customer expectations has paved the way for the so-called experience economy. But what does this mean for businesses?

One of the most significant changes in consumer mindsets is that it’s no longer about your product, service or the transaction. Tech-savvy consumers are careful about how they invest their time and are demanding value from this unconventional investment.

Everywhere we look, we are provided with personalized solutions from services such as Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. Even the content we digest on Facebook or LinkedIn is decided by sophisticated algorithms that are designed to keep you reading more of what you like.

The smartphone in our pockets now literally puts the world at our fingertips, and we can find the cheapest flight and hotel room without the need to visit a travel agent. Business is now challenged with providing personalized solutions on the right device at the right time to thrive and survive in a digital age.

Businesses need to accept that they should already be providing the same experience across a myriad of devices to customers that have a mindset and expectation of, “If Netflix can do it…” But this is just the beginning. Organizations also need to deliver the same experience across voice, email, mobile, apps, web, and chatbots too, through APIs.

It’s important not to get carried away by the capabilities of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and chatbots. Sometimes, simply listening to your audience and providing surprise and delight campaigns can deliver fantastic results when amplified across social channels.

Instagrammable moments can also be captured and shared millions of times using traditional methods.  For example, Dash Two were able to merge the conflicting worlds of conventional outdoor billboard advertising and digital together with their Lady Gaga mural on the road to Coachella.

Ironically, businesses will need to invest a significant amount of time to meet these rising expectations from their customers. But, sometimes, it’s a legacy mindset that is just as damaging as the old technology preventing your business from being relevant in an increasingly digital world.

However, the good news is that those that are successful in providing a memorable and personalized experience will ensure that their customers keep coming back for more. For example, First Direct bank has won numerous customer service experience awards for enabling their customers to speak to a real human being within a few rings without having to navigate confusing phone menus.

The success of Amazon Prime also highlights that people will even pay a premium subscription for a better experience. Why? For many, the service removes traditional retail friction points that had previously been accepted as the norm. It’s time for businesses to start thinking differently.

Unfortunately, time is one of the few things that we cannot make more of. As a result, consumers are much more careful about how they invest this limited resource, rather than their hard-earned cash. Whether you serve a B2B or B2C audience is irrelevant, both markets are looking to save time in a digital age.

Businesses of all sizes now need to accept that winning their customers’ hearts and wallets is no longer about their product, service or transaction. But the experience that they provide. Rather than comparing your business against your competitors, ask yourself what was the last experience that your customers had? That has just become their new expectation from you.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, we see more and more brands competing through personalized experiences rather than their products. But, the real star of the show is not technology. It’s empowered customers that are driving innovation and greater simplicity by their continuously rising expectations.

The companies that settle for providing a standard service are already finding themselves falling below the bar. The only question that remains is how will your business not only leverage technology but also the imagination of your employees to think up how your organization can provide the experiences that we all expect.