The Problem with Convenience (and How to Fix It)

Why isn't everything convenient It's not convenient. Let me explain.

There's a Mobil gas station in town. The gas is seven cents more th

an other stations. Why? Maybe because it's just off the highway. Maybe the station owner wants to make a buck.

I get gas there because it's on my way to work. Convenience outweighs cost.

Several months ago, I pulled up to a pump and grabbed my Speedpass. A Speedpass is supposed to be a quick - more convenient - way to pay for gas. I held it up to the Pegasus and waited for the red light. I got nothing. No red light. I yanked my wallet from my pocket and paid - the slow way. I swore off that pump.

It happened again yesterday. Different Pump. Now, 25% of the station's pumps had broken Speedpass readers. So, what's this have to do with convenience?

Tasks are convenient if they don't rely on other tasks, people or processes to be convenient.

The only way for my Speedpass to be convenient is if the Mobil station had working readers at every pump. The only way project management software is convenient is if your team uses it. The only way for the corner market to be convenient is if it has what you want when you want it.

True convenience is a luxury. Do products and services we buy make our lives more convenient? If they do, then why do we stop using the software we just signed up for? Why do we stop going to the gym?

Convenience is worthless without perceived value.

Sure, it's convenient the gym is five minutes from your apartment. But, it relies on you to derive value from it. When you go the first few times you think "hey - this is great. I can hop out of bed and be on a treadmill in no time!" You may get a couple more workouts in that week. The next week? You've gone cold turkey. Why?

You're not getting any perceived value. Those six pack abs you wanted - where are they? The bulging biceps you see on the cover of Men's Healthy - hello? If you're not getting  value from the gym, it becomes an inconvenience. Your priority is now channel surfing. The gym is no longer convenient or valuable.

Only You Can Perceive Convenience and Value

I think the gym is convenient. You think having 98 channels and NFL Sunday Ticket is convenient and valuable. Your friend? She thinks her iPhone is convenient and valuable. See? Everyone has their own perception of convenience and value. When they don't come as a packaged deal, the other suffers. Peanut butter is not the same without jelly. Oreos are not the same without milk.

What's the takeaway? When two forces come together, you become a fiercely loyal user. When you lose one, you look for alternatives. Make your product or service convenient for the user. Add on a side of perceived value while you're at it.

And never go in a convenience store. They are hardly ever convenient.