We’re living in an instant gratification society, and the slew of new businesses forming what some are calling the “middleman economy” stands as proof. A new startup seems to pop up daily, and all are taking notes from the leaders of this nascent market – namely Uber, GrubHub/Seamless, and InstaCart – on how to entice new clients with the promise of “right now” for everything from cleaning services to tacos.
Regardless of whether you use these services, have you considered what kind of effect this cultural change is having on your own business? What about your employees? How are your customers – consciously or not – increasing the urgency of their demands upon your organization? How are your employees coping with that change? Are they growing increasingly impatient with established (often sluggish) processes?
How Did We Get Here?
Some have chalked up the surge in instant gratification startups to millennials living up to their worst stereotype – the spoiled children of over-indulgent boomers. But when you really examine the situation this clearly isn’t the case; customers of these services come from all walks of life and are all ages. The benefit of right now access to anything is fairly obvious; Mary Meeker even called out the evolution in her Internet Trends Report for 2014, stating that there’s been a 12% increase in the offer for free shipping by online retailers, and that her bet is that same day delivery is the next big thing.
So weren’t people coming up with these businesses ten, twenty, or a hundred years ago? Why were pizza deliverers ahead of the curve for so long?
The answer is simple: it comes back to the mobile web.
Having the internet at hand 24/7 has acquainted users with the notion of buying, selling and commenting on products immediately and constantly, regardless of their surroundings. Consider this example: an executive of a company is running late for her morning meeting, so instead of trying to hail a cab she pulls up Uber. During the ride, she sips her coffee from a travel mug she bought on Amazon. She notices that it leaks, which prompts her to pull up the product page and write a review describing the trouble, and order a replacement. Once completed, she remembers that it’s her secretary’s birthday, so she opens up her GrubHub/Seamless app and orders a cake for the office to celebrate later that same day. An instant review of her Uber driver and she’s on her way. Today all that can happen in the span of 5-10 minutes.
Now consider that none of these actions would be possible if she didn’t have access to the internet in her pocket. Every task she completed during the ride – including the ride itself – requires instant action on the part of the vendors she is requesting goods and services from. Any delay would not be tolerated and would be regarded as a lapse in quality, consistency, and most of all, value.
This attitude carries over to all aspects of our lives and our businesses. After all, if InstaCart can deliver my groceries in an hour, why can’t I have any other good just as quickly? Why does the cable guy need an eight hour window? What do you mean, I have to drive to the carwash? As consumers start to plan their lives with instant gratification as a given instead of a perk, those that take longer to deliver can fall out of favor . Even in the case of email vs. instant messaging, the instant solution is now the preferred choice.
Consumer Expectations Drive Business Necessities
In business, it’s important to remember that professionals are consumer too. This means that the impact of this consumer shift is impacting business to business commerce as well. To serve the changing demands upon your team, you must provide them the right tools to work quickly and efficiently without sacrificing accuracy.
For most businesses today, this means adopting an enterprise communications solution (or several) and establishing a hierarchy of what message types belong on what channels.
When your employees have access to their teams’ knowledge, information and expertise, they gain the ability to act in synchrony no matter what the physical distance between them is. When they’re equipped to triage with coworkers, look at documents that they know are up to date, and ask the most knowledgeable person their questions in real time, they will not only have a superior amount of information literally in their pockets, but also the situational context necessary to execute a seamless plan of action that leaves your clients amazed at your organization’s efficiency.
In addition to solidifying the benefits of working as a unit, executive are also able to grant employees the autonomy and flexibility they crave, which will make for a happier workforce overall. If your business is made up of mobile teams – such as event planners, educational or healthcare professionals – all the more reason to give them the power of instant, reliable and secure mobile-first communication.
Driving Adoption, They Will Thank You
What proportion of your employees have a mobile device? What channels do they use for personal communications? I bet the answers to those questions are 80% or more, and texting, respectively. If those answers sound about right, then you only need to follow these steps to champion employee adoption of a solution to meet the changing real-time demands in the workplace:
- Your move to implement an enterprise-wide software solution means that you likely have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) policy in place. If you’re having a hard time motivating employees to cooperate, consider having a “town hall” meeting to discuss what you’ve chosen or what you’re considering and why. As people feel their voices are heard, your company will benefit from the increase in collaboration and teamwork.
- Carefully look at what your employees really need to do a great job – for many, it’s more than just a newsfeed of activities going on around them – in fact, that can be a detriment to work. Would sending documents instantly be helpful? What about images of what they’re seeing in real time? Should they have the ability to instantly call the person or group they’ve been speaking with to relay information more quickly? Don’t be afraid to ask teams what they need, and make investments accordingly.
- What departments or even employees need to get ahead of information the most? Are there consistent times of day when those “asks” flow in from customers that increase the pace of work at your organizations? Are people talking to the right people with the right messages? Are those employees with the info being accountable to their teams, reading messages and answering them in a timely way? Whatever solution you choose it should give you the insights to answer all of these questions.
Giving your team instant access to the people and information they need drives teamwork; better collaboration enables your company to then offer faster, better and more accurate service or goods. While today’s demands for instant gratification may seem exhausting at times, in reality, this model can be great for business if capitalized on via the right solutions, especially as the enterprise becomes increasingly mobile.