Attention refers to how we actively process specific information present in our environment. Attention is what allows us to tune out information, sensations, and perceptions that are not relevant at that moment in order to focus on what is important. Combined with working memory; the short-term, “erasable” memory used while dialing a new phone number; attention allows us to learn new things, or follow along in a conversation. Described by psychologists as the cognitive process of selective concentration, attention is the allocating of mental resources to help in understanding the current environment and task.
Attention requires conscious effort and training. In our modern world of information and socialization in the palm of our hands, attention is not learned in the same ways it was before. Without discipline to learn how to be focused, modern adults can survive without attention. Our smartphones can be our “attention”. We can jot down notes and appointments, new concepts and products, without having focused any time on these things. Why should we, when we can store all of that information somewhere else?
The Stroop Effect
As you probably suspect, irrelevant stimulus information can have a major impact on attention. While you’re focusing on reading an email, the words of the song playing in the background can interfere with the message in front of you. In psychology, the best demonstration of this is called the Stroop Effect: a test in which a person is asked to read out loud a list of color words, which are displayed in a different color than the word describes. Despite abilities to read the words, people tend to say the color they see over the word they read, because their attention is being split between the text for the word “red” and the color green that they see, for instance. Multiple stimuli competing for our attention in real world can have the same effect on our ability to parse out important information.
Attention requires a focus that our modern technology releases us from needing. As a consumer, there’s no need to be focused when constantly bombarded with choices, information, and new products from across the world.
As a manufacturer, this is a problem. Attentional shifts during purchasing can lead a customer away from your product, to another company that’s cheaper, faster, or delivers a more engaging experience. Shifts in attention can be voluntary or involuntary. Involuntary shifts in attention occur when you’re automatically and subconsciously drawn to another stimulus, voluntary shifts occur when you shift your focus to another object on purpose.
In our click of a button, sensory overload society, attentional shifts are something that companies need to consider in their business plans. In today’s world of smartphones, social media, and purchasing Apps, your customers could be standing in line at your electronics store and surfing the web for more competitive prices. They could be checking smart phones for to-do lists, or simply find that a long line will interfere with the last minute invitation just received via text. The accessibility of shopping online, information about competition, and over-enhanced social connectivity make “waiting around” an anachronism.
Consumers don’t need to focus in on your product, or the experience you give. If it’s boring, their attention will shift elsewhere. In previous decades, waiting in line was an obligatory part of the consumer experience. Now, it’s an attention deficit danger zone, where bored clients may move on to the next company.
QLess fixes this problem by allowing customers to wait inline without waiting at all. In fact, the multi-tasking achievable through ‘queuing’ virtually while doing other tasks allows and accounts for client distractibility. The bottom line is that waiting in line promotes customers to start shopping online, with your competitors, right from where they’re standing. QLess allows your customers to live online without losing any part of the customer experience inline.
Image courtesy of: motherboard.vice.com