The Importance of Immediacy

Shaving a few hours off the response time of a customer query or complaint, or making it that much easier to find a store or to buy, could significantly improve a company’s bottom line.

Consumers expect quick responses from companies, but what does ‘responding quickly’ mean? Does it mean within the hour, or within a day? The answer varies.

More than 50 percent of Twitter users expected a response in less than two hours. In a recent report by CapGemini on the automotive industry, 43 percent of users expected an answer within one to four hours.

The answer likely depends on customer expectations. Responding to an automotive quote might seem a bit more involved than responding to a Tweet. In any case, the answer will change over time – each time getting shorter and shorter. It isn’t always easy shortening these timeframes.

In some industries, responses around product information can involve legal or product specialists.

The good news is, sometimes it is better to be fast than thorough. According to a survey of social media users, responding quickly to an issue was more important than having a strong answer.

Of the respondents, 33 percent said they’d recommend a brand that offered a quick but ineffective response, which was nearly double the number – 17 percent – who favoured a brand that provided a slower but effective solution.

Even providing no response at all was better than having a slow and effective one!

So, getting back to a user acknowledging their note and committing to getting them an answer is a step in the right direction.

In terms of immediacy relating to sales, a number of companies are working hard to make the purchase process as fast and easy as possible.

What could be faster than one click?

Amazon has always been at the forefront of this charge with one-click ordering and has recently launched the Amazon Dash Button for repeat purchases of household items. Google has been piloting one-click purchasing, piloting the ability to click ‘buy’ straight from search engine results or other Google advertising. Even Facebook is in this game and piloting a buy button on its advertisements.

Each of these companies is striving to remove the friction in the buying process, with Google and Facebook looking to keep the buying experience within their platforms so the user doesn’t even need to click away.

But, as with service, taking the friction out of the sales process isn’t without its hiccups.

For Google and Facebook, there is the issue of integrating inventory systems, around consumer trust of buying through these platforms for the first time, and fears from product companies and retailers that this is an attempt to steal their customers. Companies are coming to grips with the importance of immediacy in building their brand, and in driving their bottom line.

The ability to deliver immediacy, in sales or service, extends beyond the traditional view of marketing and advertising and deeper into the companies functional teams including product, distribution, legal, and HR, and can require close collaboration with suppliers and partners.

Faced with the dilemma of choosing to invest in immediacy, or advertising, the answer that leads to the greatest return could be immediacy. Unfortunately, it might also be the answer that is hardest to deliver.

*Image via Shutterstock

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