When did impatience become a virtue? Real time has devolved into all the time with little time for deeper, more critical analysis or thinking. We seem to run on a perpetual stopwatch mentality. Welcome to what’s been coined “The Age of Impatience.”
Now, let me just say that I am as impatient as anyone in a traffic jam, in the airport security line, or when I’m on hold with Verizon. And, on the flipside, I am thrilled with the immediacy of information, breaking news and conversation that channels like Twitter have made possible. (Though I tend to use Twitter more as a linking tool to smart, but obscure articles versus as a constant stream of second-by-second news, talk and rapid-fire response.)
That said, in all of the hyper-speed of today, we may be in some danger of losing sight of the very thing that makes the availability of all that info so powerful – really good thinking that comes from having the time to, well, think.
So what is the impact of a hurry-up world on today’s brands?
1. Too many companies are forced into a quarter-by-quarter focus, which favors short-term quick fixes over long-term planning. Taking the time to think about the future has never been more critical. (See: NetFlix, Countrywide Financial, iPhone5/Google Maps and the recent Instagram debacle.)
2. If all “facts” are immediately discoverable, judgment between competing facts will become a primary skill. In the words of Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft, “the essential skills will be those of rapidly searching, browsing, assessing quality, and synthesizing vast amounts of information.” A brand that keeps things simple – whether it’s through a streamlined decision-making process or by making it easier for a consumer to weigh options and evaluate choices – will be a brand appreciated by overloaded consumers.
3. Brands that truly deliver a custom experience may be able to bend time with products or services that aren’t “off the rack.” A bespoke suit, for example. We value the craftsmanship that goes into it and are content to wait patiently for it. So make something that’s worth waiting for. (Yes, easier said than done.)
4. In the Age of Impatience, brands that offer an antidote to our warp-speed lives through more mindful, slow living may be in great demand.
5. If 40% of mobile shoppers will abandon an e-commerce site that doesn’t load in three seconds, then it’s critically important for all brands to set clear expectations. Either meet the expectations for speed, or be upfront about why you can’t. Under-promise, over-deliver and then beat a customer’s expectations.
6. As consumers increasingly “time slice” their lives (a few seconds on the iPhone, now the TV, now the tablet, now face-to-face and back to the phone) perhaps brands need to time slice their messages, too. Are big, immersive online experiences that offer everything and the kitchen sink the way to go, versus valuable bite size messages that can be immediately digested.
7. Always-on collaboration will be our future. The best brands will find new ways to more collaboratively work with their customers to accomplish great things.
8. Of course, in a time-starved world, all brands must be respectful of what a consumer may value the most: their personal time.