In July 1928, in the city of Davenport, Iowa, a man named Otto Frederick Rohwedder created his own piece of history.
He invented the world’s first bread slicing machine.
Little did Otto know, his invention would not only make carb consumption that bit simpler, but inspire a famous saying.
“The best thing since sliced bread” has been used ever since to describe something innovative, or just plain great.
And the phrase’s enduring popularity stems from one thing – convenience.
In Otto’s day, sliced bread was the ultimate in convenience. It saved people time and made their lives easier. Cut to 90 years later, and basic human desires haven’t changed. We are still wired for convenience.
We’re going to explore how convenience has influenced our past, as well as how it’s shaping your customers’ expectations and buying habits today.
People are wired for convenience
Hlade’s law states:
If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man – he will find an easier way to do it.
So, despite what your teacher told you, laziness can be a useful trait. A laid-back blessing in disguise.
We don’t mean lay-about, do nothing all day lazy.
What we, and Hlade, are getting at is that people are never more innovative than when trying to make things easier, faster or more efficient.
The desire to claw back precious time is often the motivating factor behind creativity, invention and, ultimately, convenience.
This theory is backed up by the story of Professor John Atanasoff, one of the men credited with inventing the first electronic-digital computer. His motivation for this piece of genius? “I was too lazy to calculate and so I invented the computer."
Clearly, devising and creating the computer was no small undertaking. But, once finished, the invention made Atanasoff’s life immeasurably easier. More convenient.
And it’s by no means a one off.
You can apply people’s desire for an easier life to game-changing inventions throughout history. From the wheel, car and aeroplane – to the telephone, escalator and remote control.
As a race, we’re hardwired to make things less effort. We want maximum output from minimum input.
But in the last decade our craving for convenience has grown further still.
Convenience culture is changing the customer experience
Convenience culture is exploding.
We’re all so busy that we revel in anything that gives us a bit of time back. Anything that makes things more convenient.
We consume media on demand – whenever works for us.
We don’t even pick up our takeout anymore, it's delivered to our door.
And the likes of drones, autonomous vehicles and robots mean that innovation will only see convenience continue its rise.
As convenience further permeates our lives, it’s changing the way we buy – as well as our expectations.
Irrespective of industry, your customers’ best experience is now the baseline for their expected experience. That leaves you pitted against agile, digital-native businesses, designed for today’s customer.
So how can you measure up?
Thriving in The Convenience Revolution
To thrive in The Convenience Revolution, you need to make it easy for your customers to do business with you.
So it’s offering a convenient customer experience – not your product or price – that has to dictate the way you sell.
In fact, it should dictate the way you run your business.
Your rivals sell similar products, or will soon replicate your offering. And your customers expect Amazon-esque personalized ongoing digital experiences.
This leaves experience, and customer convenience, as your clearest route to differentiation and the long-term, profitable relationships you want with your customers.
And convenience pays:
- 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience.
- Customer experience leaders see revenues increase by 5% to 10%, and costs go down by 15% to 25% within two or three years.
What your customers are really paying for is their time. The ability to buy exactly what they want with as few clicks as possible.
The fastest way to offer this experience? Prioritize easy-to-implement technology that empowers your people and customers through the likes of automation, self-service and subscriptions.
So, take a leaf out of Otto Frederick Rohwedder’s book. Make your customers’ lives more convenient – give them the best customer experience since sliced bread.
Read more about the Convenience Revolution and why it matters to your business here.