Estimated reading time: 6 mins
There are many benefits to being primarily “action-oriented” in business in general, and especially when running an entrepreneurial venture. Among these benefits, are the facts that you can quickly go through a process of trial and error, identifying what works, and dropping what doesn’t.
Nonetheless, one mistake that many entrepreneurs make is getting a service up and running, and then leaving it as is, indefinitely, in order to focus on other elements of the business, even if there are fundamental user experience issues inherent in the way things have been set up.
This isn’t necessarily a major issue if you go through a continuous process of iterative improvement. But, creating a situation where your clients are consistently subject to irritation and stumbling blocks certainly isn’t a winning strategy.
It might be that your clients really wants to be able to set up a direct debit mandate and pay for your services automatically, in that way. If, therefore, you force them to go through a manual payment process every month instead – a lot of them may be chased away altogether.
It turns out that making things as easy as possible for your clients is a path to success, whereas any potential stumbling block can have a disproportionately negative effect on your business as a whole.
Here are a few reasons why you should really prioritise making your customer’s experience as easy and streamlined as possible, if you want to ensure that your business continues to go from strength to strength.
People will typically follow the path of least resistance most of the time
It might be tempting to think that a customer-facing system you’ve implemented on your website, for example, is “good enough” and that people won’t be put off by the need to invest slightly more effort to use your services, to access the online accounts, and so on.
This degree of optimism, however, is largely unfounded for one simple reason: people are generally creatures of comfort, when they can get away with it, and will typically follow the path of least resistance when given the option.
The book “Nudge” by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein look specifically at the way in which people can be effectively manipulated and directed through very subtle adjustments to the systems, routines, and institutions that pervade society. And this idea has been known about for quite some time by savvy marketers in various fields.
For example – it’s known that playing certain types of music calms customers when they’re shopping, and may even make them more likely to make a purchase. It’s also the case, for example, that supermarkets will often put “staple” items such as milk and bread near the front of the store, in order to lure people in, only to then “upsell” them through the strategic placement of other potentially attractive commodities.
The bottom line is that the easier you make it for would-be clients and customers to use your services, the more likely it is that they will, in fact, use your services. Even very minor adjustments and modifications can make a really significant difference, with such things as the particular placement of an “add to cart” button being powerful determinants of customer shopping behaviour.
Realise the basic malleability of human behaviour, and take whatever steps you can to remove potential sticking points and sources of frustration from your offering.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this particular quirk of human nature is also in evidence in the world of habit formation. In his book, “The Power of Habit,” the writer Charles Duhigg notes that breaking a bad habit is often largely a matter of putting even just the most minor degree “friction” or “resistance” in the way, whereas instilling and solidifying a desirable habit is often largely just a case of reducing some of that friction.
It’s the small benefits in terms of ease and comfort of use that may differentiate you from your key competitors
Every business has to be mindful of their “USPs” – or, in other words, their “Unique Selling Propositions.”
USPs are those particular features of your business that help to differentiate it from the competition, ideally in a way that emphasises the benefits that come with using your services, but that aren’t present in the offerings of your rivals.
In today’s hypercompetitive, hyper-connected, and information and communication-saturated world, your prospective clients will always be able to identify a dozen or more rival companies to your own, within a matter of minutes, if you’re not able to grab their attention and appeal to their sense of self-interest effectively enough, and quickly enough.
A bit of industry research can be useful here. Have a look at the particular services that your competitors offer, and the ways in which they offer them. Read the kinds of reviews left by disgruntled clients and customers of theirs, and see what you can do to improve on whatever it is they might be doing wrong, and to remove some of the “friction” that might be present in their services.
People have more choice available than ever before, so any resistance or irritation at all is likely to scare would-be customers away
One consequence of the fact that customers now have more choice than ever before, is that they are more sensitive to fairly minor irritations which they would, in recent times, have been happy to shrug off.
Consider the way in which people’s expectations have shifted, after a few years of having next day delivery available to them courtesy of Amazon. In a remarkably short period of time, many people have now come to feel entitled to next day delivery, and even having to wait two or three days for an item to arrive in the mail might be enough to cause them to feel indignant.
Delivery times may not be a fundamental issue for your business, but anything that can cause a mild sense of irritation to your customers does have the potential to invoke a sense of indignation, and drive them into the arms of waiting competitors.
Ease of use helps to develop rapport and a positive emotional connection
When people talk about “customer loyalty” or “brand loyalty,” a large part of what they’re really talking about is the fact that a company has successfully managed to create a sense of rapport and emotional connection with their customer base. This then motivates them to become repeat customers, and to prioritise that transactional relationship over the ones they might have with competitors.
To a very large degree, that sense of rapport and positive emotional connection comes as a result of the fact that customers feel that the company in question is treating them with a degree of care and dignity that is exceptional, if not unique, in that particular niche.
Of course, another major component of this is the sense that the company in question is upstanding, subscribes to a good code of professional ethics, and is in no way exploitative or “risky.”
Doing what you can to ease and streamline your customers’ experience when using your services, or buying your products, can play a significant role in helping to establish this kind of positive connection. At the same time, you should also place a heavy emphasis on transparency, and after sales care, as both of these things will help to create that much-needed positive connection.