Why Some Channels Are More Convenient Than Others: A Convenience Quotient Analysis

That was the title of colleague James McQuivey’s track session here are Forrester’s Consumer Forum in Chicago.  For those unable to attend, here’s a quick synopsis of what James covered:

 

While attendees may think they have had enough of the term – and the concept of – “multi-channel,” the truth is that multi-channel has only just begun.  It’s not just in-person vs. phone vs. online.  The mobile channel is prominent today, and we’ve got new options coming, like connected TVs, that won’t emerge for another year or more.

 

James’s theme is this:  Your product or service is never more convenient than the channels through which people access it.  And convenience is bigger than you think.  It’s not a need or feature – it’s a measure of how well your features provide consumer benefits.  Regular readers of this blog will know that we at Forrester have captured the notion of convenience in the following equation

 

Convenience Quotient = Benefits – Barriers

 

The overarching concept of convenience is addressed in a Big Idea report by James, called “Cracking The Convenience Code.”  I applied the CQ methodology to customer service channels in my report entitled, “Enhance Your Product Strategy With Convenient Customer Service.”  James reviewed these various channels – such as email, FAQs, online chat, live agent on the phone (among others) – and described how a simple benefits vs. barriers framework could be developed and scored by each member of the audience based on their own particular situation. 

 

Once done, the question to be asked is this:  How do we prioritize channels with convenience in mind?  The answer: use your CQ scorecard to:

  • Pinpoint channels that deliver value – focus here! (Benefits > Barriers)
  • ID channels that are more pain than they are worth – abandon? (Benefits < Barriers)
  • Look for complementary channels (whereby consumers can get all the benefits by switching channels)

 

Channel synchronization is another key goal.  But keep in mind that:

  • No single channel is barrier-free
  • Sometimes the most convenient experience can only happen across multiple channels
  • Synchronized channel experiences allow people to jump from channel to channel, cherry-picking the benefits without enduring the barriers – and that’s a good thing

 

All in all, a great session.  For more information on CQ, including links to all of Forrester’s CQ research, please see the new CQ web page on Forrester.com at the following link:  http://www.forrester.com/CPS/ConvenienceQuotient