Speed and user experience is increasingly becoming the defining characteristic of our digital age that never sleeps and never stops. Faster payment, faster delivery, faster downloads, faster lives.
Consumer behaviour and the way people spend their free time has fundamentally changed and services like Task Rabbit and Fiverr have shown us time and time again that people will part with their hard-earned cash for convenience and speed.
SMEs, listen up: Speed is supreme
For businesses, particularly SMEs, this represents a new challenge. Consumer expectations of technology and services have been set by the Amazons, Netflixes and Ubers of the world who excel in simplifying and speeding up the mundane – and have significant resources at their disposal to do so.
– The way we use and consume products, services and brands is no longer a simple exchange; it is a relationship we build.
Trust lies at the centre of every relationship
This is still true. But who and how we trust is now changing, and the way we build trust is evolving.
From making a payment to sharing information in the digital and physical worlds, safety and security are table stakes, while convenience, ease of use and simplicity are the new currency.
“But how do you build trusted life connections with your customers that give them the freedom of choice, ease of use and peace of mind they demand?”
Can you rely on one-click processes? How do you keep your customers secure without asking for a complex password and security protocols? Answer these questions correctly and you stand to gain customers.
Research from the Baynard Institute found that 37% of cart abandonments were due to sites requiring account creation and 26% were due to long and complicated checkout processes.
We’ve done our own research at Mastercard
Our own research found that approximately a third of online purchases are abandoned because consumers simply can’t remember their password. Another third said they missed a sale or lost out on an exclusive deal for the same reason. The business and financial implications of inconvenience and poor user experience for SMEs couldn’t be clearer.
Invest in a pleasant purchasing experience for your consumers
SMEs that invest in convenience and improving customer-facing touchpoints reap the rewards through more completed purchases, higher customer satisfaction and repeat custom.
Those that ask their customers to make the investment instead lose custom, no matter how great their service or products.
For small and medium businesses, this means trusting that upfront investments will pay dividends over the long term and deciding which customer experience-enabling technologies and services to prioritise.
“You can have the best systems in the world, but if your user experience doesn’t match, your investment has been wasted. Implementing such systems from the start makes it easier to scale as you grow and ensure a joined-up experience.”
There is no excuse for friction and complexity when tools like passive biometrics and AI mean businesses can authenticate customers faster, provide automated feedback and secure processes against fraud and misuse.
But it’s not as simple as finding the right payments partner or the best chatbot vendor – if your core business processes aren’t aligned and joined up and your chatbot can’t check local stock levels or your AI recommendations engine can’t access customer loyalty data, your customers will continue to be frustrated.
Think of the ways you can better engage with your consumers
Consider also the ever-increasing number of ways you can engage with your customer. We’ve rapidly evolved from bricks and mortar to the internet, to mobile shopping and now smart speakers and even the connected car.
“The opportunity has never been greater to meet the convenience need, but the challenge is equally great, particularly for SMEs with limited resources, and services need to be made seamless whether they’re delivered in store, over the internet, mobile or even voice.”
Digital tech helps, but it’s not without its complications
Digital transformation to embrace these new channels grants SMEs the opportunity to engage with customers in new ways, but adds serious complexity.
“For smaller companies, this complexity requires a digital ecosystem to be successful – when one thrives, all will thrive. A partner-centric model will enable SMEs to deliver the best digital experience, with security, convenience, and control throughout the stakeholder value chain.”
As ecosystems grow and the digital marketplace gets ever more complex, it’s time to finally place monetary equivalent value on convenience and consider streamlining processes and implementing new technology as an investment against it.
Simply removing friction from processes will increasingly be a prerequisite of doing business in the digital age and innovative approaches to recommendations, customer support and fast and simple processes will be the next competitive battleground.
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