The relationship between trust, honesty and simplicity when it comes to customer and employee experience – Interview with Brian Rafferty of Siegel+Gale

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Today’s interview is with Brian Rafferty, the Global Director of Business Analytics and Insights at Siegel+Gale, a brand strategy, design and experience firm. They also define themselves as a simplicity company and help brands deliver simpler experiences to their customers. Brian joins me today to talk about simplicity and the performance of brands that have simplicity at their heart, how that relates to both customer and employee experience and what they are learning from their research about what we should be doing to improve both customer and employee experience.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – 140 leaders share the lessons they learned during the pandemic – Interview with Joseph Michelli – and is number 367 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Brian:

  • I first came across Siegel+Gale via simplicityindex.com.
  • Simplicity, from their perspective, is based on how consumers perceive brands and not how brands see themselves.
  • Key question: How much simpler or more complex are the experiences, communications and products and services that you’re seeing from this brand versus their peers?
  • One key dimension of this is clarity and is something easy to understand.
  • There is a huge link between trust and honesty and simplicity i.e. the more trusted you are the greater the likelihood that your experience will be seen as simple.
  • The idea of simplicity therefore is quite relative and is also a moving target.
  • So, the achievement of simplicity is a journey not a destination.
  • If you’re delivering complex experiences. People see you as doing it on purpose. You’re likely not doing it on purpose. You’re doing it because you didn’t figure it out yet or you weren’t maybe being customer centric enough and you were thinking more from a legal or internal standpoint. But, the challenge is that people won’t see that as an accident.
  • Many brands will be forgiven for not delivering the easiest or slickest experience because they are trusted.
  • The internal experience also feeds into the the external experience.
  • Google, Amazon and Netflix have been at or near the top of the index for the last 10 years.
  • They are in the portfolio of brands that are the simplicity leaders. They track their performance against the major indices and they swap brands in and out as consumer perspectives change.
  • All of the brands leverage simplicity and that’s a large part of what has driven their growth.
  • Brands that are included in the portfolio that may surprise people: Costco and Aldi.
  • Simplicity doesn’t have to mean beautifully designed experience.
  • It can be very bare bones and built on the trust that comes from delivering on your promises.
  • Apple is included in the index but has never been at the top for three main reasons: 1. They are incredibly polarising; 2. In recent years, they have kept changing their connection requirements and that has earned them the nickname ‘The Dongle Company’; and 3. Given that they promise simplicity they get judged more harshly if they don’t deliver it.
  • Siegel+Gale conducted a study of CMOs in the summer to gauge some of the big lessons coming out of the pandemic. Here are the big themes:
    1. The human aspect of all companies and brands came to the forefront.
    2. Marketing was seen as a key function in handling the crisis.
    3. All brand marketing efforts had to pivot significantly.
    4. Purpose has played a central role and risen further in importance.
    5. It has been easier for some brands than others.
    6. Simplicity matters more than ever.
    7. Despite all of the challenges, many silver linings have emerged.
    8. While uncertainty still reigns, most marketers are already planning for the future.
  • Brian conducted the interviews for that study and the big theme that ran through all of them is that the onset of the pandemic created a very human moment ….a realisation about our shared and common humanity.
  • Being customer centric is a clear way to achieving simplicity.
  • Brian’s best advice: Develop a deep understanding of your customer and what they are trying to do, wanting to do and how they want to feel about it.
  • Omnichannel experience can be simple but only if it is really well coordinated, seamless, connected and done in a way that works for the customer.
  • The minimum standard: Only add things/channels if they’re all connected. Because if they are not then that will automatically add complexity.
  • Brian’s Punk CX word(s): DIY, Tension.
  • Brian’s Punk CX brand: Warby Parker.
  • Check out the The World’s Simplest Brands website: https://simplicityindex.com/

About Brian

siegelgale Brian RaffertyBrian Rafferty is the Global Director of Business Analytics and Insights at Siegel+Gale, a brand strategy, design and experience firm.

Brian holds a baccalaureate in math and physics, but ask him which teacher influenced his life most and he’ll mention the comp lit instructor who changed the way he thought about language. It’s that appetite for information across all arenas—as a child, his broad intellectual curiosity made him want to be an inventor—that makes Brian the ideal leader of our overall Research practice. His team digs into the facts and figures of our clients’ industries to mine powerful insights that build world-class brands. They translate complex data into clear, simple, purposeful ideas with the precision of—well, of physicists.

Brian has worked extensively for over a decade in marketing strategy, brand positioning, and quantitative and qualitative research, serving clients big and small across a variety of industries: financial services, professional services, high technology, retail, consumer goods, non-profit, health care and biotechnology.

Before joining Siegel+Gale, he spent four years as managing director of research and strategy at The Brand Union overseeing research and strategy projects for BlackRock, Pernod Ricard, Johnson & Johnson, Cadbury, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, HP, Coca-Cola, Alcatel-Lucent and others. Before that, he served as co-principal and managing director of boutique research and consulting firm Plaid, where he led business and product growth strategies for the United States Postal Service, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Voss Artesian Water. He also worked as a research and planning manager for New York ad agency Ferrell Calvillo, and as a senior executive for research consultancy Summus.

Brian was born and raised in France. In addition to his baccalaureate in math and physics from France’s Lycée Pasteur, he’s a graduate of Princeton University.

Find out more about Siegel+Gale here, say Hi to them and Brian on Twitter @SiegelGale and @btrafferty and feel free to connect with Brian on LinkedIn here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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