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“I Want It Now!” Answering Society’s Instant Gratification Craving

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

You’re busy. I’m busy. So here’s the point:

People have become so used to instant gratification that they expect everything now. Right now. You can either embrace society’s instamatic mindset or rapidly be swept to the bottom of the marketing and competitive lineup.

Convenience is the new currency. Across the board in products, services and experiences, consumer expectations are linked to fast, if not immediate, delivery and satisfaction.

  • People now pay thousands for one-day dentistry
  • Google delivers thousands of results in fractional seconds
  • Fast food drive-through windows display stopwatch timers
  • Website pages are abandoned is they load in more than 1.67 seconds
  • Consumers flock to “lose five pounds in five days,” or “pizza delivered in one hour”
  • Text and email messages fly faster than you can dial a phone
  • The customer service help line has 17 seconds to fetch-up a real live person
  • On-demand movies and books stream down to us in moments

Personally, I’ll buy via Amazon Prime to save 20 minutes (or more) shopping. And I expect delivery tomorrow at no extra charge. More than at any time in human history, life is fast, and getting faster.

In fact, it is the same immediate availability of communications, information and other techno-magic that has made society more productive, more frenetic and more demanding. Executives and homemakers—most everyone really—feels rushed. Consumers face the potentially troubling consequences of what The Economist labels as “Time Poverty.”

Notre Dame Magazine published an insightful article by Ronald Alsop about the causes and history of immediate need titled, Gotta Have It Now, Right Now. (It’s kinda long; you might just skim it.) And an article in The Boston Globe observes that instant gratification is making us perpetually impatient.

Marketing-smart move to meet expectations…

Medical practitioners and hospitals can provide a strong differentiation by taking advantage of the quick-gratification trend. This opportunity can be especially effective in market situations where healthcare has been slow to recognize changing consumer expectations.

Retail marketing turned this page in their playbook long ago…offering same-day delivery, one-hour (or less) printing, immediate airline ticket reservations, and in-stock-no-waiting product inventory.

Healthcare services and marketing messages can use similar appeals by streamlining processes and operations and aligning themselves to busy consumers. For example:

  • Providing early morning, late day or weekend hours, and same-day appointments…convenient to the patient’s schedule.
  • Answer office phone calls quickly, with no “on-hold” time. (Even getting through on the telephone during the traditional, 90-minute “lunch hour” is a plus for many busy consumers.)
  • When appropriate, provide free local delivery of products; contact lenses, for example.
  • Streamline office operations for little or no waiting in the traditional “waiting room.”
  • Provide email or text communications; for patient reminders, lab results and pre- and post-visit messages.

Differentiate with customer convenience…

Recognize the counterpoint here…patients will continue to expect to unhurried, one-to-one face-time with their physician. But they don’t want to struggle with phone-tag-appointments or wait days or weeks to see the doctor.

The payoff is that convenience is the new competitive currency. Healthcare practices that differentiate themselves with more immediate patient access and engagement have a powerful competitive advantage.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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