6 Ways to Make it Worth Their Time

Customers should feel as relaxed as spending a day at the beach

While browsing various blogs, websites and news feeds today, I was suddenly hit by a thought. What if we make it more enjoyable for our customers to transact and purchase from us? In other words, improve the quality of their time spent with us.

As many would have heard, time is often more precious than money. You can't buy a day, an hour or even the second that has slipped by. As the saying goes "Carpe Diem!" or "Seize the Day!" goes, one doesn't want to waste precious discretionary time doing something utterly boring, meaningless or frustrating. The best way to avoid the ravages of time - at least to your consumer - is to offer an experience that is so compelling and "magical" that they no longer remember that they are spending their precious days of leave spending hard earned cash on you.

Here are 6 ideas (maybe counter-intuitive to some) that may help convince your customers to want to spend the better part of their days (and nights) with you:

1) Whisk them away to an enchanting world which offers a chance for escapism. The way to do this is to involve them in active manner. Disneyland does this beautifully - the moment you step into a Disney park, time just flies by without you knowing it as you venture on ride after ride, watch 3D movies, purchase the latest Lion King watch, or savour "mouse-flavoured" popcorn. Disconnect them from the world, and don't offer WiFi access!

2) Hide all clocks (well unless you are a watch retailer), and take away any signs time-oriented signages if you can. Do we really need to remind customers that you are "closing down" or that they must "Hurry! While Stocks Last!" Certainly, a nudge in the right direction would help in closing the deal, but studies have shown that the longer customers linger in your shop, the better the likelihood of a bigger purchase.

3) Make it easy and convenient for them when doing the "nasties". Offer as many different modes of payment as possible, and delivery service to their homes if the items are heavy or bulky. As far as possible, look at ways to eliminate queues at the checkout counters because waiting to pay is the worst possible way for one to spend one's time.

4) Invest in creating a physical ambience that is timeless. What this means is to imbue the retail or consumption experience with signals and cues that depart from mediocre mundanity. An example could be using decor which suggests a more romantic era if you operate a restaurant (eg a ship's deck, or a futuristic spaceship), or have your staff dress up like comic book characters. The whole atmosphere has to be choreographed and curated to reflect that sensibility.

5) Ensure that every staff member is a performer in every sense of the word. To capture the imagination of your customers, workers should help to feed into the fantasy of timelessness. They should play their part as fellow orchestrators of the experience, interacting and chatting with customers as if they are long-time friends (but doing it sincerely), and adding to the moment.

6) Don't forget about the "befores" and "afters". As I highlighted earlier, create anticipation for your customers before the actual visit and purchase. However, don't neglect the post sales experience when your customer is back at home using your product or recalling his or her memories of a visiting or dining experience. Employ subtle cues that help to prolong the memories - a little card that offers a discount for the next purchase, a birthday greeting that comes with a free gift, or a website/blog which chronicles the experience further. These help to prolong the journey further and make it longer lasting.

In a time-starved world, the common adage is to increase productivity as much as possible so that customers can just transact and go. Too many businesses are running the race of trying to beat the clock, faster and faster, without any care for personalised service.

If one can turn the tables upside down and ditch any chronological cues, it may help one's guests and customers to better cherish their consumption experience with less worry. It will be like having a holiday each time they visit you, albeit in smaller bite-sized chunks.

What do you think?

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