Some of the most successful, talked about businesses right now are those that provide convenience to their customers.
I personally find a ton of value and appeal in these solutions and consider myself to be a huge proponent of them.
There’s a few apps that I actually use quite frequently that definitely add convenience to my life.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Uber – Saves me time from having to call a cab company or walking down the street to flag one down
Eat24 – Saves me time from walking or driving to a nearby restaurant to grab a bite to eat
Washio – Keeps me from having to do laundry or drive to the cleaners to drop off and pickup my dry cleaning
These represent just a small fraction of the many companies and applications that allow busy people like me to optimize the time in our day.
Could they be hurting us though?
What We Lose With Convenience
Have you ever tried to think back to what it was like when we didn’t have some of these convenience apps available to us?
Here are some scenarios that may help you recollect those moments:
It’s pouring rain and you just want to get home after a long day of work. You dread having to go outside to hail a taxi, but it’s necessary so you go. After realizing that there are only a few taxis driving through your area at that moment you realize that remembering your umbrella would’ve been nice and you start to accept the fact that you’re going to be tired and soaking wet by the time you get home. All of a sudden a stranger, also looking to get home, shares their umbrella with you. After the awkward smile and gratitude you pass on you start to feel a little better. More time passes but you don’t really notice as you’ve been engaged in a conversation with this person you didn’t know a few minutes ago. You learn that you work in the same building, take the same route to and from work everyday and share some similar interests. Before you know it you’ve just made a personal connection with someone that may be a lifelong friend.
You just got home from a long day at work and you’re starving. You realize that you forgot to go to the market, again, and have nothing to eat. Fortunately you live near a few of your favorite restaurants so you make your way to one of your go-to spots. Upon arrival you see a sign on the door that says “Closed”. Not wanting to walk across the neighborhood to hit one of your other spots you consider the place just two doors down that you have never even thought twice about checking out. You walk over and notice that it’s not very busy, but can see that there are a few people inside including someone that looks to be the owner. You’re hungry so you give it a shot. Before you know it the owner strikes up a conversation with you and asks you to let them decide what to bring out for you. Not a fan of surprises you cringe, but you give them a shot. To your chagrin the owner comes out with what turns out to be one of your favorite dishes in the city along with a few glasses of wine you haven’t been able to find anywhere else. You now have a new secret spot to pass on as a tip to that cute girl / guy at your office that is always talking about how much of a foodie she / he is. Cue your chance to take them on a date there.
See where I’m going with this?
Those serendipitous moments that may connect us with our future spouse, help us meet our next big client or, better yet, give us an opportunity to leave a positive impression on someone else’s life for that small moment in time may all be lost. All for the sake of convenience.
These moments can often define us by building our character through life experiences – both good and bad.
Were those few minutes you saved from using that app worth it?
We’ll never know.
Now, I am certainly not going to stop using these apps altogether, nor would I ever expect anyone else to. However, I am going to consider giving a life a chance to put me in these moments by not immediately resorting to relying on these apps as often as I do.
It’s going to be difficult as a lot of it has become habit, but even if it means that I can connect with one new person that I may not have otherwise, then it will be worth it.
Is giving up convenience that one time worth one possible serendipitous moment for you?