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Don’t Be Stupid: Keep It Super Simple

A recent Corporate Executive Board study indicates that customers of companies that focus on simplifying customer experience are 86 percent more likely to follow through on their purchases. Further, this same study suggests that a 20 percent increase in simplifying customer experience results in a 95-plus percent increase in a customer’s likelihood to purchase, repurchase, or recommend a brand.

On the flip side, we all know how interconnected the systems that deliver customer experiences can be. Usually including multiple, cross-discipline, cross-functional, and cross-organizational inputs, the behind-the-scenes people, processes, and systems that enable the delivery of most customer experiences can be a case-study in staggering complexity.

Add in the interrelationships between them and the occasionally competing priorities of those who own or manage those people, systems, and processes, and your head can start to spin. Sadly, the answers for most organizations aren’t always easy to find. But one way they can be found is by looking at and emulating those organizations that have made a point of making their customers lives easier by successfully prioritizing customer experience.

It’s Not Easy To Be Simple–But Those Who Do So Prosper
Segment-driven customer experience leaders (like USAA) deeply understand their customers and are laser-focused on designing and delivering products, services, and interactions that perfectly meet customer wants and needs. Other companies (like Apple) have made simplicity a near religion, whose iconic products are famous for lacking many of the features of their direct competitors–but they dominate their markets by focusing on those features that are most important, and making them simple to use.

If your company has any interest in delivering on the promise of a better experience for your customers, then invoking the “simple” mantra is an excellent place to start. No matter your position in an organization, simplicity can (and must) be fought for at every level. As long as you’re starting with a deep understanding of your customers and the needs you’re trying to meet, you have the basic tools required to battle complexity.

How To Walk The Simple Talk
If you’re a writer, then use plain English to describe whatever it is you’re trying to communicate. If you’re a lawyer, then fight for simpler policies and be clear in explaining them to your end users. If you’re a product or service designer, then relentlessly eliminate “nice to haves” and focus on what’s most important to your customers–and your drivers of business value. If you’re a manager, then make your meetings much smaller and shorter, only inviting those who can actively contribute new ideas to the issue at hand. If you’re a marketer, then don’t work so hard to try and “engage” your customers. Focus on making it easier for them to do business with and buy from your company. In other words, don’t lose sight of your customers and their needs. Look at what you’re doing through the eyes of the people you’re trying to serve, and cut away anything that doesn’t actually better meet their needs, or make their interactions easier. Do your best to avoid “the way things are” in favor of “the way things should be.” And do so everywhere.

We recognize how difficult it is for companies to change; entrenched attitudes, systems, and processes create institutional resistance. Yet change can start in pockets, one person, group, product, or idea at a time. Simplicity can spread, starting with you–and your ability to help others around you understand why it matters so much to your firm, and to your customers.

No matter what your role, recognize that if your customers believe your firm is easy to business with, if they enjoy interacting with your company and can get what they need from you when they need it, you’ll deliver the kind of customer experiences that will help you differentiate your company, dominate your market, and confound your competition.

It may not be easy, but it can be simple.

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