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Why Customer Experience & Tech are about Less than More? Stop Counterintuitive Design & Cut the Waste

The purpose of this article

This article will help you as a leader to decide or help your teams to decide where to cut useless features and functionalities. There is no sustainable customer experience without its real pillars: quality, design, great products, services and a human-centric design. But to get to those pillars, you need to remove complexity and useless feature from your products, services, design, and experience.

This often involves removing features as mentioned in our previous article and here we will discuss how to get it done.

This is a big challenge. Sometimes certain features were developed by one team, or based in feedback, data-driven information, and different departments and people, and they don’t want to see them go. There are personal motivations like “I built that” or “I own that.” That’s the psychological side of work and user experience design.

Sometimes companies aren’t using their data correctly. (This actually happens very frequently these days despite an era of Big Data.)

There are several number of issues that can occur while deciding to deliver simple solutions.

The point of this article is to help you understand how to reduce complexity by removing features and unnecessary functionalities. Less is more: easier UX and CX are a revenue generation engine and proven winner of loyalty, satisfaction, renewals, increased sales, cross sales and upselling, engagement , and an enabler of great experiences.

The bottom line, before we begin, is this…+ 20 real steps to cutting the waste (in the end)

If you deliver an unstable product/service full of useless features, your company’s capability of delivering a great UX and customer experience and growth will be negatively impacted. Period.

However if you have the ability to develop products that give more with less complexity, your company results will be enhanced and growth will follow you.

It is now your duty to help customers do more than just expend their time understanding your solutions. You will make revenue off renewals and loyalty. If your product is too complicated to use, you won’t get adoption and those renewals and loyalty obviously.

We are living in the times of companies like Amazon, Uber and SAP.

Software AG, Nice, and Amazon succeed on that by not just simplifying but delivering 100% personalization for you, making your life easier. SAP Ariba, Microsoft, Oracle and hundreds of other companies deliver functionalities and features to serve the technology delivery objectives, and to meet customers’ key requirements.  The same applies to all other companies around the globe dealing with enterprise technologies and in other sectors.

 

None of this is easy. But it is imperative.

Think: When you are designing a new experience, do not think about the feature or functionality; think about the value it will create for your customers and users. Will it make onboarding easier? What about work processes in general?

Instead of creating experiences focused on the moment, always envision and design the end benefit.  The benefit you develop makes it easier for designers to develop it, for marketing and sales to create the business case and value proposition, and overall makes it easier to sell the value long-term. Your customer is searching for the end benefit the value  of it not the complexities of your solution and customer experience.

The big concept people miss in customer experience design

Remember your customer is looking to solve their issues, not exactly to buy your solution.

A few years ago, Kris Gale, ex  VP Engineering at Yammer and now co-founder of Clover Health, said it all in one simple quote:

Complexity cost is the debt you accrue by complicating features or technology in order to solve problems. An application that does twenty things is more difficult to refactor than an application that does one thing, so changes to its code will take longer. Sometimes complexity is a necessary cost, but only organizations that fully internalize the concept can hope to prevent runaway spending in this area.

This simple graph expresses my and other professionals approach to delivering the right features in the right time with the right process and technology with minimal overwhelming user/customer impact and maximum intuitiveness.  Those are the basic pillars that enable easy services, customer and user experiences and we will discuss it in deep in future articles about CX leadership.

20 real steps to cutting the waste

  1. Roadmap prioritization: create the “MVP” minimal viable list of features and functionalities for customer and user benefit. Avoiding quantity but focusing in added value and quality of design.
  2. WSJF: As Mike Biggs advice consider using the weighted shortest job first (WSJF) model from Agile, this helps while choosing the right path with the right  focus in prioritization,  considering risks, business value, cost of delay per feature designed.
  3. Monitoring features and functionalities with measurable KPI’s: Always align a feature with a way to monitor how this is being adopted by user, attaching a KPI metric or measure to it and checking adoption and usage during certain pre-determined time frame. If adoption is poor, this might be something you can cut.
  4. Do not overload customer with features or functionalities: The stress created leads to churn instead of adoption.  Roland T. Rust, Debora Viana Thompson, and Rebecca W. Hamilton have a great  old HBR  article about this: less means literally more when creating an objective user and customer experience design.
  5. Budget Impact and change: Complexity and useless features and functionalities have a high cost.. Your customer….All features request budget allocation. What will be the impact if this feature will not be available for customers anymore? Will the company lose customers or their willingness to keep working with you?.. and.. What will be the impact on loyalty, satisfaction, and revenue?  Sometimes is better to keep a feature than to lost a customer even if is useless to you. Analyze it well always.
  6. Add maximum value per feature experience: Remember, we want to cut the features that provide the least value. It is very important to think about how the user will experience the functionality step by step. “Process flows” can be created to show this, by thinking about what the user is trying to do (what the initial problem is they are solving) at each step and describing the flow in that manner. The flows should be based on how the user will receive value, not how they access specific functions in the product.”
  7. Use emotion to connect but do not focus in your emotion to decide what should stay or go: Collaborate with your teams, customers, discussion groups, test, prototype and marketing, services teams and all possible communities and touch points. Make sure you leave what will benefit customer solution usage outcome and your application target. Simple!  Cut the rest!
  8. Don’t think that many features and ways to solve an issue is a good thing: Options are good, but customers don’t want to be overwhelmed.  Always think about the human design centric impact.
  9. The user will have access to different features then the management: Cut what is unnecessary for them. Leave the clear and crispy features and functionalities needed.
  10. Defining rules, parameters and business logic: Don’t clean the dirty laundry in public. The end user doesn’t need to see or understand your whole back end. Think of Amazon. They have a very complex back end but all you see as a customer is a box to type in and some products that display after a search. The customer doesn’t care about the bells and whistles. They care about getting what they need.
  11. Stakeholders: Certainly the key stakeholders have some ideas, but make sure they are aligned with the real needs of your customers, users, and target market, do not let them add dysfunction because they lead, collaborate, listen but define after analyses what will really keep you on context.
  12. Proof priorities: Utilize feedback, listening, methods, methodologies that you company is normally using such as Agile, DSDM*(Dynamic systems development method ), FDD(Feature-driven development), XP (Extreme programming), lean or whatever matches your technology and company developing standards. Ensure also you have the right data, analytics, voice of employee and customers, community and research feedback with facts to sustain the value of what you are going to cut off or add on.
  13. Use  team feedback:  Get feedback from all parts involved and potential customers in all cases if you are a mature software company, a medium or a startup, get feedback but remember, time is running against you ensure you advance with quality in mind. Quality can never be jeopardized.
  14. Make your roadmap practical evolving story: Your company, solutions, customers and partners are all part of an ecosystem. Make sure  to be a head of the game to ensure you deliver the user and customer experiences most desired and you evolve with the ongoing technology conversation.
  15. Develop a long term vision:  AI, AR, VR, and IoT are already in play. IoT is going to be a particular game-changer for customer experience and data-driven services. (We will write more about that in future articles.) You could even say something like blockchain is going to eventually be big in terms of payments. You need to focus on where technology is heading, not where it is now. If you just focus on the now, you may be too late.
  16. Say no to “the gut feeling:” : Sometimes people with lots of experience in the field want to trust their gut feeling on a decision. This can work, but only very infrequently. Say no to isolated customer thoughts, sales, opinions that lack facts and data, etc. Feedback can’t be a “one-off” concept. It needs to be based on data.
  17. Focus in: Design for humans with different mental models, all of us are different so make simple. Appeal to the widest possible audience.
  18. Ensure: Emotional appeal of the product and methods to make easy for customers to love your solutions. Nimble CRM has an easy design; it’s so intuitive that it’s impossible not to love.. Another new solution I’ve advised several large technology companies to purchase is Userlane. (It’s currently being used by SAP Ariba.)  It is easily designed to enhance the entire intuitive experience.When defining your road map: Make sure you have a great vision and strategy. Remember being a company that embraces simplicity can help you win a chunk of a multi-billion dollar market, as I mentioned in one of my previous articles.
  19. When defining your road map: Make sure you have a great vision and strategy. Remember being a company that embraces simplicity can help you win a chunk of a multi-billion dollar market, as I mentioned in one of my previous articles.  Some of the aspects you need:
    • A journey road map that brings together visuals, core processes, and stakeholders. This is essential to design thinking.
    • Regular check-ins and updates for the team on where everything stands.
    • Remember that flaws can and likely will occur. You have the power of preventing and mitigating them, such as with preventative like data driven services. You can make all the difference, if you  focus in the risks of what can go wrong ahead.
    • Focus in the target -l delivery technologies — which will ensure a great customer experience, lower costs of services due to its superior quality, and have  excellent human driven usability.
    • Your focus in delivering any product and services is to ensure customer success.
  20. Cut the old add what works: Easier said than done, but remember — people are looking for a solution, not necessarily to buy your product. They will buy and adopt something that’s easy for them to implement and roll out. So get the features that work in there. Cut the ones no one is using or looking for.

Conclusion

Simplicity wins, but to get there is not an easy path.

As we know, though, nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy.

There is, by some measure, an $86 billion market out there for companies that are consistently getting experience and design right. By “getting it right,” I mean making the products and service offerings intuitive and easy to use experiences.

In other words: 17 useless features that teams keep adding don’t help the end user. But 2-3 expert features that solve pain points and are easy to figure out could be huge revenue generator for your company.

It’s not easy, again.

To quote Shep Hyken, who posted this as a comment in one of my recent posts:

”Simple sounds simple, but it’s not. Don’t confuse simple and easy. Sometimes what appears to be a simple concept takes a lot of thinking and work behind the scenes to bring it to life.” – Shep Hyken

How are you cutting your technology features to enhance your customer experience?

I would highly appreciate hearing how you simplify processes and features where you work. Connect below or leave a comment and keep cutting …

 


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About the Author:

Ricardo Saltz Gulko is a global strategist, thought leader, practitioner and speaker in the areas of customer experience, experience design, customer success, and global professional services. Ricardo has worked at numerous global technology companies, such as Oracle, Ericsson, Amdocs, Redknee, Inttra, Samsung among others as a global executive, focusing on enterprise software, services, design thinking and customer experience. He currently works with companies of varying sizes to transform themselves around CX, customer success pathways, and professional services. He holds a MBA at J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Evanston, IL USA and Undergraduate studies in Information Systems and Industrial Engineering. Ricardo is also a global citizen fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew and German and learning French. He is on the international advisory committee of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and currently resides in Munich, Germany with his family.

A diabetic who wants to wipe diabetes from the Earth for all of us, the proceeds from his forthcoming book will be going to the Faustman Lab. The Lab is working to eradicate it, based out of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. You can also support and donate to The Lab. It would mean a lot to me, and millions of others struggling with diabetes.

You can learn more about him, his passions, and his charitable causes at his LinkedIn or Eglobalis or Facebook or Twitter.

2 Comments

  1. Shep Hyken November 19, 2017 at 22:03 - Reply

    Another great article, Ricardo. Simple isn’t easy, but it’s much appreciated by the customer when it happens. Customers want a simple experience – one that is easy, frictionless and convenient. This gives the company a competitive advantage and the customer a better experience.

    • Ricardo Saltz Gulko November 21, 2017 at 09:47 - Reply

      Simple is our new norm aligned with quality products and services and the overall services and #CX. Simple in our days means loyalty, satisfaction, referrals and a direct impact in our revenue generation capabilities and the entire bottom line. As you Shep and Cindy several times mentioned. Thanks so much for leaving your message here and for all support, kind regards Ricardo

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