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How to Combat Urgency Addiction in Customer Experience

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urgency addiction customer experience BLOG

The phenomenon of urgency addiction has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in the context of customer experience.

I’m the first to admit that when faced with a long line, lanes filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic, or someone babbling on and on (where internally I’m screaming, “GET ON WITH IT!”), I become impatient.

And I’m sure we’ve all procrastinated on our most-loathed tasks. But at what point does urgency become an addiction?

I think we’re all suffering from it in a way … and this addiction not only affects us as consumers but also has significant implications for brands and their staff who are striving to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Today, let’s explore our ‘urgency addiction’ as well as strategies to combat it from both sides (brands vs consumers).

Ultimately, my goal is to ensure your business delivers exceptional customer experiences without succumbing to the pressures of instantaneity.

Understanding Urgency Addiction

Urgency addiction refers to the relentless pursuit of immediate responses and actions, often at the expense of quality and sustainability.

Yes, “solutions-driven” people, I’m talking to you!

Renowned writer Steven Covey introduced the concept of “Urgency Addiction” in his work, First Things First. He pointed out that many people are unaware of how being constantly driven by urgency influences their daily lives.

This compulsion towards immediate action, Covey explained, often becomes a source of thrill and energy, much like the excitement a gambler feels from betting.

Here’s a drawing of how Covey looks at urgency in a matrix (and forgive my crude drawing!):

urgency addiction chart b squared media brooke sellas

[Source: The deft hands of Brooke Sellas]

He described urgency addiction as a harmful pattern that offers a temporary solution to underlying needs that aren’t being met. Essentially, it’s the incessant need to act swiftly and make decisions quickly.

This cycle of behavior can worsen over time, becoming more ingrained with each repetition. While it’s true that certain situations require prompt attention and deadlines need to be met, the issue arises when this sense of urgency governs our actions, often leading us to prioritize tasks that, in reality, hold little significance.

Does this strike a chord?

In the customer experience domain, urgency addiction manifests as a constant need for quick fixes, fast responses, and immediate gratification, overshadowing the importance of thoughtful, personalized service.

Let’s look at it first from the lens of the customer.

Tackling Urgency Addiction: A Consumer’s Perspective

The expectation for instant gratification has seeped into every facet of our lives, including our interactions with brands and services.

This phenomenon not only shapes consumer behavior but also influences how companies design their customer experiences.

From a consumer’s perspective, the desire for immediate responses and quick fixes can sometimes overshadow the need for quality and meaningful engagement. Think about it …

  • Netflix ensures we get to see a movie as soon as it’s released.
  • Amazon promises next-day delivery.
  • Instacart offers same-day grocery delivery.

Below, we’ll explore the impact of urgency addiction from the consumer viewpoint and outline what brands can do to address this growing concern.

The Consumer’s Quest for Instantaneity

As consumers, we’re increasingly accustomed to the immediacy provided by technology. Whether it’s instant messaging, same-day delivery, or real-time customer support, we’ve come to expect rapid responses as the norm.

Jay Baer released his ‘Time to Win’ report in 2022 which underscored that speed is more important than price. He went on to show how speed is also a great differentiator for brands.

Furthermore, the report shows that re-escalations, or having to contact a brand one than once to resolve a problem, affect the spend and loyalty of customers.

jay baer time to win report

[Source]

Ultimately, this expectation can lead to frustration when not met and, paradoxically, diminish our satisfaction with the overall experience.

Let that sink in for a moment!

The Downside of Instant Gratification

While the desire for quick solutions is understandable, it often comes at a cost.

Urgency addiction can lead to shallow interactions, where the depth and quality of the service are compromised. If you take a look around the world today, you’ll see the (awful) affects of instant gratification.

The constant desire for instant gratification often leads to …

  • Increased stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Destruction of our planet*

It can also lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness if someone is unable to get what they want immediately. *I try to remember this point when I think I want fast fashion.

fast fashion cost of urgency addiction

[Source: FSU]

Surprisingly, this need for instant dopamine can escalate stress levels among consumers, who feel pressured to make decisions hastily, sometimes leading to regret or dissatisfaction.

So, how do we fix this mess we all have a hand in creating?

What Brands Can Do to Address Urgency Addiction

First, recognizing the negative impact of urgency addiction on the consumer experience is a great start. From there, you can implement several strategies to mitigate these effects while still meeting expectations for responsiveness.

Trust me, some of our clients have a 10-minute response time for their social media customer service program and we’re still able to do most, if not all, of the below!

1) Promote Transparency and Manage Expectations:

Brands should be clear about what consumers can realistically expect in terms of response times and service delivery. Transparency about the process and time required to provide high-quality solutions can help manage expectations and reduce frustration.

For instance, a first-touch response could take only ten minutes, while scheduling a repair could take up to 30 days.

Similarly, see how the airport in Austin, Texas shows TSA wait times:

TSA wait time example

[Source: KXAN]

2) Offer In-depth Support Options:

Instead of solely focusing on speed, provide options for in-depth support.

This could include detailed guides, forums, or the option for extended consultations, catering to those who seek more comprehensive assistance. (Self-service is one of our 50 ideas on this topic!)

3) Educate Consumers on the Value of Quality:

Through marketing and communications, brands can highlight the benefits of thorough, thoughtful service.

Educating consumers on the importance of quality over speed can help shift expectations towards more meaningful interactions.

4) Implement Personalization:

Use data and insights to personalize the customer experience. Tailored recommendations and services can make the consumer feel valued and reduce the pressure for instantaneous decisions.

For example, take the beauty brand IL MAKIAGE. They know that choosing the right makeup online can be a stressful situation because it’s hard to know how your skin will react when trying a new product.

So, on nearly all of the sales-driven content, they make it crystal clear: Try their products for 60 days, and if you aren’t 100% satisfied, return it!

urgency addiction example IL MAKIAGE

[Source]

I realize some of you may not be makeup junkies like me, but a 60-day return on makeup?! Unheard of. That gives me plenty of time to find out if it’s the right shade, or even just the right product, for me.

5) Encourage Digital Wellbeing:

Promote practices that support digital wellbeing, such as mindful browsing and informed decision-making. This can help consumers become more conscious of their urgency addiction and its impact on their satisfaction.

6) Create a Community:

Developing a community around your brand can provide consumers with a sense of belonging and support. This can lead to deeper engagement and reduce the focus on instant gratification.

In fact, in our management of several large communities, we often see customers ask troubleshooting questions within the community first before going to social media or other support channels.

Here’s an example from a social media community I belong to:

community global smm strategy question

 

The company that owns this community is a SAAS brand, however, when you think about it, isn’t this a clever way to offer insights and experience? It’s a big deal to have direct access to other community members who likely work in the same space and have the same issues.

7) Feedback and Continuous Improvement:

Actively seek feedback from consumers regarding their experience and expectations. Use this feedback to continuously refine and improve your service offerings.

8) Lead by Example:

Showcase your commitment to combating urgency addiction through your actions. This can include everything from the pacing of your marketing campaigns to the design of your customer service processes.

The Promise of Immediacy

As consumers, our addiction to urgency is fueled by the digital landscape’s promise of immediacy.

However, this constant rush can detract from the quality of our interactions and overall satisfaction with the services we use.

Brands have a pivotal role in addressing urgency addiction by reshaping consumer expectations and providing experiences that prioritize depth, personalization, and quality.

If you’ve read my book, Conversations That Connect, you know how critical it is to get to depth of interactions (and if you haven’t, go grab it!). The SPT, or onion theory, backs this up with a lot of cool science and sociology.

conversations-that-connect-onion-theory

[Source]

By fostering an environment that values these principles, both brands and consumers can navigate the challenges of urgency addiction, leading to more fulfilling and meaningful engagements in the long run.

Next, let’s look at how urgency addiction affects brands and teams dealing with CX (customer experience).

The Impact of Urgency Addiction on Brands

Urgency addiction can lead to a superficial customer experience, where quick response times are prioritized over meaningful interactions.

While speed is certainly an aspect of good service, it should not detract from the quality of the experience.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Urgency Addiction

Identifying urgency addiction within your organization or team is the first step towards addressing it.

Symptoms may include:

  • Overemphasis on speed metrics
  • Neglect of deeper customer engagement
  • High stress levels among staff
  • Frequent shortcuts in service delivery

Addressing the Root Causes

Understanding the underlying factors contributing to urgency addiction is crucial. These may include competitive pressures, internal performance metrics, or a misalignment of organizational values.

Combating Urgency Addiction: Strategies for Success

To effectively combat urgency addiction, a multifaceted approach is needed.

Here are ten strategies that can help reshape your customer experience strategy internally:

  1. Redefine Success Metrics: Shift the focus from speed-based metrics to those that measure the quality of interactions and customer satisfaction over the long term.
  2. Invest in Training: Equip your team with the skills to manage their time effectively and prioritize tasks without sacrificing the quality of customer interactions.
  3. Implement Technology Wisely: Leverage technology to streamline operations and automate routine tasks, freeing up time for meaningful customer engagement.
  4. Foster a Culture of Mindfulness: Encourage employees to take a step back and consider the impact of their actions on the customer experience, promoting a more deliberate and thoughtful approach to service.
  5. Encourage the ‘Deep Work’: Create an environment that allows employees to engage in deep, focused work, minimizing distractions and the pressure to multitask.
  6. Set Realistic Expectations: Manage customer expectations by communicating clear timelines and setting realistic goals for response times and service delivery.
  7. Build Strong Relationships: Focus on building lasting relationships with customers, emphasizing personalized service and attention to detail.
  8. Promote Work-Life Balance: Ensure that employees have a healthy work-life balance, reducing burnout and promoting a more relaxed and focused approach to customer service.
  9. Use Feedback Loops: Regularly gather and analyze customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and adjust strategies accordingly.
  10. Lead by Example: Leadership should model the behaviors and attitudes they wish to see in their teams, demonstrating the value of quality over speed.

Start small, implementing one or two strategies at a time, and gradually build on your successes. Monitor the impact of these changes on customer satisfaction and staff wellbeing. Always adjust your approach as necessary.

Finally, combating urgency addiction requires patience and dedication. It involves changing deeply ingrained habits and perceptions, both within the organization and among your customer base.

Conclusion

In a world where speed often takes precedence over quality, combating urgency addiction in customer experience is a formidable challenge.

However, by adopting a holistic approach that values meaningful interactions, prioritizes the well-being of employees, and fosters a culture of mindfulness and quality, businesses can differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a customer experience that is not only efficient but also deeply satisfying and enriching, laying the foundation for lasting relationships.

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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
Conversations That Connect
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Category: Customer Experience, Customer Service
Tags: B Squared Media, Brooke B. Sellas, Brooke Sellas, customer care, customer care strategy, customer experience, customer experience management, customer experience professionals, digital customer experience, response times, , urgency addiction
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