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Do-It-For-Me: The Next Evolution of the On-Demand Economy

Business.com / Customers / Last Modified: June 21, 2018
Image credit: garagestock/Shutterstock

Learn about how the on-demand economy (ODE) is evolving into the do-it-for-me (DIFM) economy.

While the Do-It-Yourself trend had its time to shine, it is now fading away. Replacing it is the Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) movement, a trend that is changing how customers interact with businesses and how businesses respond to customer demand.

Understanding this movement is key if you want to experience sustained success with your company. Here are a few tips to tackling the DIFM movement.  

Create zero-friction customer experiences.  

Eliminating customer friction should be a high priority for all companies, regardless of their specific market or role. Let’s face it, customers hate it when a service or sale has friction of any type; the more work they have to do to utilize your business, the less likely they are to become repeat customers.

But what do we mean by “friction?” Obviously friction can come in many forms, but think of it as the amount of effort that a customer has to put out to purchase from your company. When the customer has to go out of their way for you (instead of the opposite), you have a problem. If customers have to call three times to book an appointment; if their day is disrupted by calls at work; if getting customer support is like navigating a labyrinth, you have high customer friction.

Because champions of zero-friction have done such fine work creating a better customer experience, customers now expect it. The companies that last will be the ones delivering on this expectation, so it’s your job is to deliver.

Bifurcation of customers: spending money for time creates happiness

While your customers can be divided into countless subgroups and demographics, they are often split into two camps. The first is value oriented; they are willing to spend time in order to save money. The other is convenience-oriented, which means they are willing to spend money to save time.

And it appears that people who spend money to increase free time, such as hiring a house cleaner or paying for lawn-mowing services, are actually happier. In a controlled experiment, researchers from the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that people who spent $40 on time-saving conveniences were happier than when they spent the same amount of money on material purchases.

This tells us that when people use services that save time, they are happier. It’s reasonable to assume, therefore, that your efforts to reduce customer time expenditures and friction will result in loyal patrons.

DIFM users are a diverse, varied crowd

Don’t be fooled, people who value convenience and are willing to trade money for free time are not a limited or narrow group of wealthy individuals. According to a TIME Magazine article, people willing to purchase time are found across many different income levels, not just a chosen few with a high level of disposable income. A report in Harvard Business Review found that among users of the on-demand economy, 45 percent are women while 55 percent are men. Almost half (49 percent) are millennials, but roughly 30 percent are between the ages of 35 and 54. In fact, 22 percent, almost one in four, are over the age of 54.

Users are also found in different areas, with 39 percent found in rural areas, 30 percent in the outer suburbs, and 31 percent in the inner suburbs and cities.

The diversity spreads across income levels too, as 46 percent have annual incomes of $50,000 or less, hardly placing them among the highest earners. In fact, only 22 percent had an income over $100,000, so when it comes to the DIFM movement, we’re not talking about a small group of elite income earners.

The study does cite that 64 percent of users are white, 17 percent of users are black, 12 percent are Asian, and 9 percent are Hispanic. While this hints at some disparity, it does line up, more or less, with the general demographics of the United States.

What does this mean to the business owner? It means that there are a variety of people utilizing the DIFM movement, and businesses in almost every industry and every location can capitalize on the trend.

Mobile apps drive consumer empowerment

In today’s mobile economy, consumers are more empowered than ever. They price check, they communicate directly with retailers and service providers and they use apps to have basically anything delivered to them at any time. Mobile devices eliminate boundaries to connectivity. Add social media to the mix, and that’s the software that empowers people to make recommendations and share reviews about their favorite restaurants, products, services and more.

This sense of consumer empowerment perspective driven by mobile devices and access to social media must be understood by brands looking to connect with and engage their audience. According to a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services global survey, companies that thoroughly capitalize on social media and customer experience offer vastly superior customer experiences than competitors that do not, which translates into stronger growth and dominant positions in their markets.

With mobile phones acting as remote controls for our lives, consumers have many options at their fingertips. Companies in the DIFM economy will reign because they cater to the empowered customer.

Employment structure for DIFM is the future of the gig economy

All of this leads us to an important subject: what will employment look like for the DIFM movement? In many cases, we will see less independent contracting and more employment of workers who can be properly trained and vetted. To deliver the high-quality experiences that customers expect, companies will employ vetted professionals that maintain a high standard, invest in the proper equipment to meet goals efficiently and effectively and provide training to handle the equipment and deliver the “wow factor” to customers.

The future of ODE turned DIFM

Because we provide access to on-demand car care, many of our ideas are car-centric. But others revolve around how we can make life easier for our customers, while still others may sound wild but are based on data or customer behaviors that we have witnessed.

This is the beauty of a consumer business: when you build trust with the customers, they will (one hopes!) trust you enough to try something else you provide. After all, did you ever think you’d be buying breakfast food from Starbucks after your first coffee? Did you imagine buying hundreds of different things after purchasing that first Amazon book? These companies created a foundation of trust based on one item and now have customers using their service to purchase a wide variety of products and services.

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