I am a convert. As I have written before, I now buy most of my books (all that are available digitally) on Amazon’s Kindle App for my iPad. I get my protein bars though Amazon. I get my ink for my printer from Amazon. And a whole lot more. And my experience on Amazon has made me a more energetic, frequent on-line shopper from other outlets (stores). And, with my Amazon Prime purchase, I get practically everything in two days.
And it is about to get faster.
I have written before about our growing desire/demand for no hassles! (quoting Frank Luntz): We Really Don’t Like Hassles — So, our Agenda: Create “Hassle Free”. And after I presented Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, a participant at our First Friday Book Synopsis said to me: “Here’s what that book said. You’ve got to make the change convenient – you’ve got to make everything convenient.”
Well, Amazon is about to really up the bar on the convenience competition for customers.
We first learned this from Netflix. Their business became more convenient (more convenient than the many, many minutes it took to drive to the local Blockbuster, and browse the shelves). Netflix took off when it became highly likely that you could get your DVD in the mail the day after you ordered it. Convenience! – the day after! (Blockbuster is now bankrupt, by the way). And now, of course, on Netflix you can watch your movie or TV show immediately, streamed onto your computer or your iPad or your iPhone or your Apple TV.
Well, today, Slate.com reminds us that Amazon has matched the Netflix convenience model on practically everything. They are on the verge of providing same-day delivery for most of the country. SAME-DAY DELIVERY FOR THE WIN! This truly is the win in the Super Bowl of the convenience league. As usual, it is the Slate writer Farhad Manjoo who makes this so understandable in his article I Want It Today: How Amazon’s ambitious new push for same-day delivery will destroy local retail.
Mr. Manjoo describes how Amazon has quietly been making many of its deliveries, promised to Amazon Prime customers in two days, in just one day. A convenience surprise! Now, it is about to raise the bar even higher. Partly prompted by the loss of their “no sales tax” advantage (we started paying Amazon our sales taxes in Texas this month), Amazon is getting ready to do provide “fulfillment” even faster.
From the article:
If Amazon can send me stuff overnight for free without a distribution center nearby, it’s not hard to guess what it can do once it has lots of warehouses within driving distance of my house. Instead of surprising me by getting something to me the next day, I suspect that, over the next few years, next-day service will become its default shipping method on most of its items. Meanwhile it will offer same-day service as a cheap upgrade. For $5 extra, you can have that laptop waiting for you when you get home from work. Wouldn’t you take that deal?
I bet you would. Physical retailers have long argued that once Amazon plays fairly on taxes, the company wouldn’t look like such a great deal to most consumers. If prices were equal, you’d always go with the “instant gratification” of shopping in the real world. The trouble with that argument is that shopping offline isn’t really “instant”—it takes time to get in the car, go to the store, find what you want, stand in line, and drive back home. Getting something shipped to your house offers gratification that’s even more instant: Order something in the morning and get it later in the day, without doing anything else. Why would you ever shop anywhere else?
So, here is the lesson for your business. Make it easy. Make it fast. Make it insanely convenient. This is the level of customer service that we will all come to expect.
Amazon will force us all to make it easier, make it faster, make it even more insanely convenient. And if we fall too far behind, well… we will be left behind.
Cheryl offers: I was at DFW today catching a business flight to Nashville TN. Most people traveling this month seemed to be dressed quite casually, really comfortable for the hot summer months, with a few noticeable exceptions. The one exception that caught my eye was women in 5 inch high heels. Don’t get me wrong, I like high heels myself. In fact I wear them frequently, mostly because I’m pretty short and they make me feel more powerful. However I do avoid them when I travel for several reasons. The first and foremost reason is safety. I can imagine how hard it would be to flee a potential plane disaster in high heels, sprinting to safety seems close to impossible. Like many travelers, my feet swell when I travel. In high heels it can become an almost unbearable situation when walking long distances such as gate changes, terminal changes, and the inevitable walk to your parked car. I know, I’ve done all of these in high heels and that’s why I wear comfortable flats when I travel now. My desire to look professional, chic and hip are still a part of me; and a statement from the new bestseller SWITCH: HOW TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CHANGE IS HARD by Dan Heath and his brother Chip Heath helps me deal with it better. They write “Clarity dissolves resistance.” How true! Once I was clear on the perils of running in high heels and walking long distances in shoes that feel a size too small after a long flight, my resistance to wearing low healed comfortable shoes dissolved completely. Who knew it could be explained in just 3 words? And by the way, this is a terrific book for lots of other reasons.
I have really been struck with the lessons that I learned — or maybe, the truths that were reinforced – in Switch. In fact, to borrow a phrase from Susan Scott’s Fierce Leadership, nearly everything that I learn, from anywhere/everywhere, really is simply a matter of the “fricking obvious.”
What the Heath brothers tell us is that habit/automatic pilot is “easy.” It’s going off of automatic pilot that is very, very difficult. Here’s a quote from the book:
Self-control is an exhaustible resource… Much of our daily behavior is more automatic than supervised, and that’s a good thing because the supervised behavior is the hard stuff. It’s draining.
We burn up self-control in a wide variety of situations: managing the impression we’re making on others; coping with fears; controlling our spending; and many, many others.
When people try to change things, they’re tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires careful supervision by the Rider. The bigger the change you’re suggesting, the more it will sap people’s self-control.
Change is hard because people wear themselves out… What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
And they also say, in their imagery of the Rider (who thinks rationally – “If I understand this intellectually, I will change”) and the Elephant (who thinks “emotionally” – “I have to feel like changing”), that “knowledge does not change behavior.” This is truly “fricking obvious.” Everyone knows that we should floss our teeth every day. Every supervisor knows that he/she should catch an employee doing something right, reinforce positive behavior more than criticize what needs to be changed; every smoker knows that smoking is bad for their health. The “knowing” is already a done deal. But the change, the switch itself, the doing, the actual changing, is so very, very difficult.
It is such a universal reality that there is a name for this problem: the “knowing-doing” gap. Check out this article from Fast Company in 2000, Why Can’t We Get Anything Done? by Alan M. Webber. It refers substantially to the book The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton. (Here is Bob Morris’ review of this book). And here is the first of sixteen rules from the article:
Rule #1. Doing something actually requires … doing something!
The Heath brothers say that to succeed at the doing – in other words, to actually make the switch/embrace and implement the change — you have to stack the deck in favor of change.
Make small steps. Overload “convenience.” In the book, they recommend that you actually put 1% milk in your refrigerator, and never put whole milk in your refrigerator. We drink what is conveniently available. Again from the book:
How do you get Americans to start drinking low-fat milk? You make sure it shows up in their refrigerators… People will drink whatever is around the house… you don’t need to change drinking behavior. You need to change purchasing behavior.
So, if you don’t floss your teeth, buy a small convenience store supply of floss. Put some by your bed, some in your bathroom, some atop your coffee maker, some by your computer, some in your car. Let floss stare at you every where you turn, and then actually floss. Make it convenient — take a small step until it becomes automatic. When it becomes automatic, you have then actually changed; you have arrived at switch.
Find and use such convenience triggers with everything you are trying to change — at work, at home, everywhere.
Knowing is relatively easy. It is the doing that is so tough.
Coming for the April First Friday Book Synopsis:
Gawande’s Checklist and Crawford’s Soulcraft
This morning, we gathered for the First Friday Book Synopsis at the Park City Club. (They do a great job at the Park City Club – a wonderful buffet breakfast, with made-to-order omelets, a stuffed French Toast dish that should be illegal!, superior service — a great place for a meeting!) This marked the end of our 12th full year of gatherings.
Karl Krayer presented the book 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, and I presented my synopsis of the new Heath brothers book: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. Both books provided wise insight, and practical “this is what to do” counsel. We should have these synopses available for purchase soon on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
For April, I will be presenting my synopsis of the important and useful book by Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (I have blogged about Gawande, and this book, often). Karl will present his synopsis of the best-selling and thought-provoking book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford.
If you live in the Dallas area, mark your calendars now for the April 2 First Friday Book Synopsis, 7:00 am. Come help us begin our 13th year of learning together.
Here is our line up for the March First Friday Book Synopsis.
Karl Krayer will present his synopsis of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman.
I (Randy Mayeux) will present my synopsis of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. (We’ve blogged about this book a little, and I can’t wait to read it!
March will close out our 12th year of the First Friday Book Synopsis.
If you live in the Dallas area, come join us. Friday, March 5, 7:00 am, at the Park City Club. (Just follow the links on our home page — they will be updated for the March First Friday Book Synopsis soon).
And — sign up for our e-mail reminder list here.