• Outlooks

My time is precious. Please don't waste it.

We all live busy lives. In fact, we all probably wish we had more time or fewer things to do in a day. Time is something that we can never get back, so it can be really frustrating to see brands and organizations creating experiences that waste our time.

We all live busy lives. In fact, we all probably wish we had more time or fewer things to do in a day. Time is something that we can never get back, so it can be really frustrating to see brands and organizations creating experiences that waste our time.

To understand how precious our time is, let’s start by looking at the breakdown of a 24 hour day. What typically happens in this timeframe? (your mileage may vary)

7 hours – Sleep
5 hours – Watching Video
4 hours – Listening to Audio
1.5 hours – Social Media
0.5 hours – Gaming
0.5 hours – Reading
6 hours – Work or School


If you’ve been doing the math as you go, you will have noticed something. The list above already adds up to just over 24 hours and we’re still not done accounting for all the things a person typically does in a day. There are a few more.

1 hour – Eating and Drinking
3 hours – Leisure and Fitness
1 hour – Personal and/or Household Care
2 hours – Cooking and Shopping


This puts us at 31 hours of activity in a 24 hour day. How? Multitasking.

If we look at how we multitask, the fight for attention gets even worse. For those of us designing experiences across different touchpoints and channels, not only do we have to worry about someone getting distracted by other activities, we also need to consider that the time people are willing to give us doesn’t tend to go very far on the platform they’re using in the first place.

Take a look at mobile. People typically use around 27 apps per month on average. At first glance that seems like a pretty good opportunity for that new app you’re building. In reality though, about 80 percent of the time spent is used on only five apps. That’s right, there are only 5 core apps most people use. And the rest get downloaded and forgotten. It’s why Apple’s iOS 11 included a new feature that will automatically delete dormant apps to save space.

Apps you use

It’s a similar story on desktop web. On a monthly basis, people visit around 96 websites, however almost half of the time spent online is on only 5 websites.

Sites you visit

The point I am trying to make is that there is a good chance most people don’t care about what you are making, or put another way, they don’t have the time to care about what you’re making. What they do care about is what kind of impact that thing you made will have on their lives and whether it’s good enough for them to switch some of their valuable time from one of their current things to your thing. The value exchange your thing provides needs to be very clear.

So what do we do? For us, there are three principles we always keep in mind.

1 - Have a Grounded Perspective

Do you understand who you’re designing for and why they might care? More importantly, do you know how they move through different levels of depth and engagement with your product or service? Grounded perspective comes through understanding the end-to-end customer journey. We define it across these five distinct phases: Entice, Enter, Engage, Exit and Extend. It’s about finding a balance between what the business is trying to do, what your customers expect to be able to do, and what the technology you choose allows you to do.

Let’s look at email as an example.

Banana Republic likes to send lots and lots of emails

When I look at this inbox full of promotional email from Banana Republic, I see a business that is creating an experience of communication by volume over value, a customer that has been conditioned to expect only to purchase discounted clothing, and technology that is creating a drain on time. It’s noise. And the value exchange here is purely around access to discounts, clearly without any kind of exclusivity.

Sephora knows how to engage customers at each step of the experience

When I look at this email from Sephora on the other hand, I see a brand that has really taken the time to ground their perspective around the customer journey. This shows a complete understanding of the customer first. They’ve taken an in-store visit and extended it into a tailored email experience that makes it really easy for a customer to continue purchasing product either online or in store.

Sephora knows how to engage customers at each step of the experience

Even more impressive, Sephora sends timed emails that correspond with when you are actually running out of product. This email was received when the cream featured at the top of the email was almost empty. It’s a “micro moment” in time that aligns convenience with a need to purchase. This is a great example of not only understanding how a customer moves through the Entice, Enter, Engage, Exit and Extend phases of a customer journey but using data and technology in a way that empowers a customer to continue engaging with you rather than taking time away from them.


2 - Benefit Ratio

Utility-to-effort is an interesting concept for brands to ponder. How much effort will I have to expend in order to feel like I’ve received an acceptable level of utility? With the increasing pressure on physical retail, it’s becoming more important than ever to think carefully about the benefit ratio of visiting a store. If the intention is to buy a product they already know they want, why should a consumer go out of their way to visit a physical retail store?

Recently, 7-Eleven created a campaign around the upcoming Deadpool 2 movie that involved QR codes and augmented reality. It required a customer to download the 7-Eleven mobile app, scan a QR code to initiate a game, and then interact with AR characters placed throughout the store.

The question here is how an AR game contributes to the sale of Slurpees, nachos, or any other product within the store. The experience depicted above was a short snippet of what was in total a little over 3 minutes. It involved standing in store navigating various menus and interactions without any clear communication as to how this would positively impact my visit to the store. An even more considerable investment in time would have been required to realize a material benefit for the person using the app. A novel concept maybe. But does it respect the time of the customer? Does it support an adequate benefit ratio?

adidas Run Genie

Alternatively, adidas created the Run Genie which can be seen in some of their flagship stores around the world. Run Genie is an iPad app that pairs with wearable tech in the form of shoe pods to evaluate an individual’s running style. When a customer comes in, they place the pods on their shoes, go for a short run and return to a tailored selection of in store shoes to try based on their unique running style. This is an example of an in store retail experience creating a high benefit ratio, while also providing an extend loop to the customer journey through personalized emails that recap the experience and also follow up in the future when new models are released that suit an individual running style.

adidas Run Genie


3 - Problem not Product

Blockchain. AI. VR. AR. Every industry should be trying to understand how emerging technology can potentially disrupt the business. At the same time, when the pursuit of technology overshadows basic customer interactions that are creating friction and pain points on a daily basis, the message that comes across from the business is one that prioritizes the new shiny object (product) over the customers you are trying to serve and the problem they are trying to solve.

Forget blockchain, just let me change my flight in your app

Alternatively, the Waldorf Astoria uses SMS, a technology that is available to anyone with a mobile phone to provide a 24 hour concierge in their pocket. No app download or update required. Just a friendly interaction with the front desk agent when you arrive at the hotel and an offer to help when you arrive in your room.

Waldorf Astoria uses SMS to communicate with guests

Time is precious. More importantly, your customer’s time is precious. If you want to create compelling products and services that provide clear value, it’s important to always make sure to keep these three principles in mind:

1 - Grounded Perspective - be relevant not targeted

2 - Benefit Ratio - empowerment, not an experience for experience sake

3 - Problem Not Product - focus on solutions in service of a problem, not technology


Ryan Opina VP Strategy