If we can’t have it now, is it worth having?
Western society is travelling at breakneck speed to becoming an instant society. We are becoming used to everything being instantly available whether it be food, information, gifts and entertainment.
How many of you have given up on finding the answer to a question because it didn’t come up on the first page of Google? Studies show that 50% of us give up on waiting for a video to play if we have to wait for more than 10 seconds.
A recent article in the Telegraph tells us how long we are prepared to wait in various scenarios. We can only manage 13 minutes of sitting in traffic or waiting for a bus before patience is out of the window. Businesses take note that we are only prepared to wait on the phone for eight minutes before you will be faced with a fed up customer once you answer.
Companies recognise our need for instant service. Just look at the number of next day delivery options and now Amazon delivers to some locations within one hour for those of us who just can’t wait until the next day. To the concern of some businesses many people now expect this service to be free or low cost meaning added pressure on smaller or medium businesses who need to offset their delivery costs or lose out to the big players.
The real question is: is an instant society necessarily a bad thing? We can keep in touch with family and friends from anywhere in the world. We can have items for our business on the same day helping to maintain production and profit. We can find a piece of information for a report or to help make a sale, complete an order or just find out which movies the familiar actor on the screen has been in. So what are the downsides? Many people believe our instant society is making us less patient. Patience is usually cited as an important quality to have in both personal and business life so do we need to start practising to make us more patient? It is one thing to expect things to happen quickly but we still need to display patience in a number of situations and if you suddenly find you no longer know how to wait then it’s time to do something about it.
Do the best things in life take time? You can’t get a next day degree – it takes a minimum of three years. To study a martial art takes time and commitment – you can’t become a black belt without a minimum of three years’ study of the art. To become a judge you need to have five years of experience in your chosen area of the law on top of the three years of study to become a solicitor as well as the three years of university study. You could argue that the time spent adds more value to the final achievement.
Looking at it from another angle, perhaps the instantness of many aspects of life gives us more time to spend on things of value. People live busy and complicated lives nowadays. They want to spend as much time as they can with family or relaxing or even working so anything that can help them to claw back time to spend on these things can only be seen as a good thing.
From a business point of view, what can be taken away from this? Most customers expect their product or service as quickly as possible. However, for a product or service of real value there can be the assumption that it may take more time. The key for a business is to decide which category your product or service falls into. If the category doesn’t match the time you take to deliver, you may need to look at whether you can provide more quickly or increase the value of what you are providing.
You might say that the moral of the story is that we can’t stop the freefall towards instant gratification so we need to make a conscious choice to use it to maximise our own or our business’s potential but remember not to lose sight of those things it is worth taking time over.
Thank you for having the patience to get to the end of this article.
- Ramesh K. Sitaraman, Computer Science, UMass Amherst
- The Telegraph, accessed 30-10-15 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/11373010/Britons-lose-patience-after-waiting-five-minutes-to-be-served-at-a-bar.html