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Simplicity-Minded Customer Experience

Published January 29, 2014

Make A ‘Simplification Promise’

Simple customer experiences are better customer experiences. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? After all, what company would set out to purposefully make their customer experience complex? And what customer would want anything but a simple experience? Yet many customer interactions appear to be driven by an almost Machiavellian logic as they are required—let’s face it—to do things that aren’t simple at all.


We’re all aware of examples, either as customers ourselves or in the stories we hear from our customers. The call center rep who has no idea you’ve opened a service ticket with the online chat folks and forces you to repeat the entire process. Or the major pharmaceutical company Web site that won’t accept patient self-testing results on evenings or weekends because it’s not during regular business hours. (No, I’m not making this up.) The list goes on.

The complexity of many businesses means they struggle to do things that, intuitively, should be easy. In our experience, these things occur for two primary and closely related reasons.

1) Siloes

The first is a siloed organizational structure, where lack of coordination between groups, data and processes creates a petri dish of complexity. From the customer's POV? “It’s almost like they went out of their way to make this harder.” Not a great customer experience, however unintentional. 

2) Inside-Out

The second reason is that most interactions are designed with internal systems and perspectives in mind, and not driven by the needs of the customer. This “inside out” thinking usually results in more complex experiences for customers. 

Interestingly, organizations that take the outside-in, customer-centric view in designing simpler customer experiences are better able to simplify their business processes, too. That is why every company should think about what simplification means within the context of their unique customer journey and the systems, data, and processes that support it.

To that, here’s a “simplification promise” you and your people can make around CX, which will improve customer experience and employee experience alike:

  • For management: I am committed to simplifying our customers’ experiences by rooting out complexity, making our processes and systems more efficient, and focusing on what our customers truly require to meet their unique needs.
  • For staff: I have the tools I need to consistently deliver customer experiences that are easy-to-navigate, simple, and efficient because we laser-focus on the touchpoints and processes that best meet customer needs.
  • For customers: I am communicated with and interact in the ways I choose, and can count on you to remember what’s important to me. This means I can quickly and easily get exactly what I want, exactly when, how, or where I want it.
Here’s How You Can Start

Think about the typical enterprise organization: legacy systems, interdependent processes, and a lack of cross-silo connectedness. This creates inefficiencies that drive internal and external friction. The goal of delivering a simplicity-minded customer experience is to remove that friction and make your customers’ lives easier. Unsurprisingly, your life will get easier, too.

There are many ways to approach the issue. When working with complex organizations, we’ve found that these three words–focused, easy, and efficient–serve as a framework or starting point for assessing opportunities and planning experiences.

By this we mean designing employee experiences and customer experiences that are:

  • Focused: By focusing only on customer priorities, you can simplify access to information, products, and services. In addition, you can simplify your offerings by eliminating features that customers don’t value.
  • Easy: Everything about the customer experience, for every customer, should be simple. This means everything they need is easy to understand, use, and access.
  • Efficient: By focusing on what drives customer value (and understanding what customers value), your experiences, products, and services will become more functional and efficient.

Common results of simplification initiatives range from better customer experiences and increased loyalty to significantly lower costs and faster, more efficient product and service development. Employee experience and loyalty improves as well because much of the internal friction that complexity causes can be removed.

By relentlessly focusing on ways to simplify the ways they acquire, sell to, and serve their customers, companies can make it easier (and often less expensive) for customers to get what they want, driving meaningful value for them–and for you.

Because when customers feel delighted by how simple and easy it is to get what they want and need from you, when and where they want and need it, you and your employees will be delighted, too.

This blog originally ran on CMO.com, where Michael Hinshaw writes the weekly “Get Customer-Centric” blog.

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