Saturday, January 17, 2009

When Adopting Convenience Becomes Inconvenient



As I was standing in line in front of the movie theatre to watch a movie the other night, I noticed that the lines to buy tickets at the door were rather short. I then noticed that the majority of people were actually lining up to use one of two machines allowing customers to pick up tickets that are pre-purchased online.

Sounds convenient to quickly enter a confirmation number into a kiosk to obtain an admission pass, but in the end it's anything but. And I’m not talking about any design or experience issues with this type of machine either (using one is pretty straight forward).

In this case, opting to use such a service is inconvenient - not as the result of the service itself, but as a result of our own behavior to adopt the service.

When services provide value, their utility causes us to experience convenience. The resulting consequence however, is that when enough people find such a service useful, our herd-like behavior causes inconvenience as the result of adopting convenience.
Don't get me wrong. Adopting services with value has its benefits, and not all services may encounter this problem. But one day, we might find ourselves adopting convenience, only to realize that our own behavior to adopt it creates inconvenience.

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