There was a time in the past when we stood at bus stops and we were a little bit bored, even just for a few minutes. We read the bus stop advertisement poster, pretended we hadn’t observed the other people waiting and idly stared up the street for what felt like a really long time. Standing on the platform waiting for a train, waiting for the pedestrian crossing to signal us to cross, waiting in the store for an available fitting room so we could try something on, in line at the supermarket checkout… all the same.
Now that we have smartphones and ready access to mobile data, we have found a way of entertaining ourselves for even the shortest amount of time. Waiting in line anywhere? Out come our phones. Even if the pause in our day is only 20-30 seconds, we have found we can do some digital activity in that time. We can read a text, post a tweet, check our bank balances, read a news headline, refresh our Facebook feed or add a heart to half a dozen Instagram photographs.
If we can’t remember the name of an actor we’ve seen, or a place we’ve recently been, our phones can give us the answer in a matter of seconds.
We have conditioned ourselves to respond to the feeling of momentary boredom with some sort of fleeting digital activity. Most of it is nothing more than information sugar – instantly forgettable and insignificant. But we still get that little buzz of pleasure as a reward for having ‘completed’ a task.
Our instinct towards instant gratification is accelerating
People live in the here and now so much they are no longer prepared to wait long to find information, resolve a situation or have a question answered.
If you want to harness this behaviour, ask yourself if there is a transaction your customers can do if they have a spare 20-30 seconds. Is there a way you can engage with them in that time? Is there a step of your customer journey they can quickly take? Can they register, sign up, make a decision, make a purchase? In what way can you meet your customers’ desire to have things resolved instantaneously?