Today, consumers want instant everything. What’s the point of going to a grocery store or waiting for a taxi when there are Instacart and Lyft? These and other “Uber for X” companies are utilizing mobile technology and complex logistic systems to feed the instant gratification appetite of the Millennial generation. While these companies are making everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, food ordering, dry cleaning and home cleaning more convenient, they have also drastically altered consumer speed expectations. Uber is 8 minutes away? Cancel and check Lyft instead. The same can be said for people looking for information from verified professionals. What used to take days of waiting around for an appointment to ask a simple question now takes minutes with JustAnswer.
A faster ride or quicker answer is now available almost instantly. But are instant gratification companies putting too much pressure on the fulfillment side of the market by driving up speed expectations?
What is the instant gratification economy?
The instant gratification economy is more or less a crossover of the sharing and on-demand economy. Liz Gannes, Re/code’s senior editor, wrote an extensive series where she explained that the instant gratification economy is driven by a mobile-enabled workforce and connected consumers who are adapting to an on-demand lifestyle. Workers in the instant gratification economy have smartphones that feed data back to instant gratification companies, where it’s used to advance logistics, optimize workflow, and deliver faster services to consumers.
And instant gratification is not just a startup’s game. Large corporations like Google announced that they have expanded their same-day delivery service to six new states, while Amazon is introducing a new on-demand delivery service called Amazon Flex that will compete against Uber, Instacart and others.
How fast is fast enough?
In early 2015, Uber released a speed expectation report of its customers. According to the report, 94% of San Francisco rides showed up within 15 minutes in 2011 compared to 99.5% in 2014. Why is this important? The data shows that customers are far more likely to cancel their requests when estimated time of arrival (ETA) is near the 15-minute mark.
At JustAnswer, we look at likely to refund relative to the median time of first response (number of minutes before a customer gets the initial Expert response). From 2015 data, there is a correlation between median time to first response from an Expert and refunds. You'll see whenever customers are getting faster initial responses to their questions from Experts; they are less likely to request refunds.
Next, we'll look at the frequency rate of receiving a 5-star rating relative to time of first response. You'll see that once time of first response passes 30 minutes, the likelihood of your receiving a 5-star rating is rare.
Setting speed expectations
Essentially, the longer customers have to wait for Expert answers, the more likely they are to request a refund and the less likely they are to give you a 5-star rating. Knowing this, we’re testing new ways to manage speed expectations based on fulfillment data while still delivering on JustAnswer’s brand values for customers of the platform.
As a part of this process, we’re extending platform tools available to Experts and customers. We’ve just released a mobile app for members which will allow members to be notified of your responses to their questions. We’re in the process of developing a mobile app to allow Experts the flexibility to respond to questions anywhere, anytime. We’re using data to set waiting time windows rather than promising a specific response time. We’re encouraging new Experts to use our platform in categories that do not have enough fulfillments. We’re collecting feedback from Experts about why certain types of questions are not being responded to.
Customers have an appetite for fast answers and we know you’re up for the challenge. By combining business data intelligence, feedback from customers and you, and focusing on mobile, we look forward to helping you to meet customers’ expectations for instant answers.
Is the instant gratification economy delivering better values to consumers or setting unrealistic expectations? Share your thoughts below.