Why is simplicity important?
We divided this article into two parts so that it would be easier (more simplistic!) to read. This is the first part. In this part, we will talk about simplicity more broadly: what is it, how does it impact the bottom line, why should you care, etc. In the second article, coming in about a week, we’ll discuss how to make your products, services simpler from a design and customer experience standpoint.
Just before I started working on this article, global brand strategy and experience firm Siegel+Gale completed their 7th annual Global Brand Simplicity Index study, which is designed to achieve three things:
- Understand the impact of simplicity on consumer behavior and firm performance;
- Determine which brands and industries create the simplest experiences;
- Figure out which top brands use simplicity to drive disruption
Since 2009, a stock portfolio comprised of publicly-traded brands which focus on simplicity has outperformed major indices, and by a lot. Simplicity may indeed be a winning path:
If this was my list, I wouldn’t have included McDonald’s or KFC because of how unhealthy they are and the consequences for those who eat those brands. But I believe they made this list because of simplicity around their customer experience and cost structure, so I understand. I myself wouldn’t have included them.
I was maybe a little bit surprised that more enterprise tech companies weren’t on this list, at least near the top (the only ones here are really Google, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube), in other regions Microsoft, Facebook, and some other tech and electronic companies as GE, Samsung and Paypal and even Apple were far from the top but in the list. In this list there’s a huge amount of food retails but that makes sense, because they absolutely need to deliver great, simple humanized customer experience to get repeat business. Retailers often have it easier designing simpler experiences. But for me is a surprise to see the German chains Lidl and Aldi in the top of the list. Yes they deliver very simple experiences, but almost without any aspect of a great customer experience here in Germany and around the globe.
Somehow we need to change the mental models of connecting enterprise technology and solutions with the word complexity. Companies like SAP, Dell-EMC, Salesforce, Microsoft, Sprinklr, Lithium, Software AG,IBM, Adobe, Tableau, Genesys, SaS Analytics, Nice Systems, and others should be regularly appearing on lists such as these, since they are trying to turn complexity in simplicity, and is not a real easy task as you may know in the enterprise technologies sectors.
Some of the bigger statistics that Siegel+Gale found are important to understand, including:
- 64% of consumers will pay more for simpler experiences (46% U.S.A., 48% Germany– but much higher in countries like India, at 92%, and China, at 85%)
- 61% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simpler to use
- A stock portfolio of companies from these simpler brands outperformed major stock indexes by 330%
- When your experiences are too complex, an average enterprise brand can leave an estimated share of $86 billion on the table
Now, obviously different regions are used to different kinds of complexity in their products — and each country in surveys like this is unique, in terms of customer experience around services and business as a whole. Look at China as an example. A company like WeChat is a very simplified experience as a complete cockpit of the western world separated social media all conjointly. Other companies, like Huawei (building amazing things) and Alibaba, are very easy to use and understand. This is all based in persons mental models, and perception, obviously, what is easy for you doesn’t necessarily make easy to others and vice versa. We can’t generalize from one survey, no. But in almost every region on the globe, the simpler products are out-performing the more complex ones. And there are billions of dollars at stake here.
As we know from our last article, complexity should be avoided, and especially in hardware, software, tech user centered design, customer experience and services. In any sector this is of the key aspects for loyalty, customer success, adoption, referrals and ultimately revenue generation.
Now we know a bit more that we should avoid complexity, and we have basic statistics on how important simplicity is to a business.
What is simplicity exactly?
To me, simplicity means a demonstration of features, functionalities, processes, governance and design which are really necessary. They need to be there, the end user understands their role, and they make the experience better.
We also know that in some sectors complexity is part of the daily life, whether we like or not. Note Amazon’s front end interface — what you see when you order anything as a customer — looks easy and very simple for us. However in their back office, they use a series of very complex algorithms and process to make all easier for us humans, the complexity is so big in essence that enables them delivery an unique hyper personalized experience for each of us. Amazon is focusing in provide us the right visibility, that is perceived as easy to use or I would say the essence of minimalist experience toward simplicity, even though takes a lots of human centricity design effort from their teams. The #UX and great user interfaces or (UI) design that they are developing, create this unique thing, that we all call “ The Amazon experience”, which many people around the globe think is among the best of the best, if not the top.
The simplicity or Amazon, should also be found or applied for enterprise technologies for user and customers. Therefore and not by coincidence as previously mentioned SAP the big German tech giant, created a division in Berlin to solve those problems and make it simple. Simple sells, simple engage and simple, actually ensure people and companies successful outcomes and that is the way we all want to be even in complex solutions.
The simpler design, human centric world enables us humans to engage with your enterprise technology in an easy way. So how are you planning to transform your technology in your organization to be nicer to work with?
Aspire to a non-complex world. So create the right usability and solutions for your customers that they really need, starting with it is a good point of beginning. One good example is “The ecommerce Zalando, here in Europe, they have simplified shopping to only 3 clicks almost maybe in the beginning a bit more. Both Zalando and Amazon’s intuitive user interface and experience and its speed and reliable delivery system are good examples, how to simplify in general.
How do we minimize complexity and arrive at simplicity, though?
You will need buy-in
Before we get to any specific examples, this should go without saying but it still must be repeated: you will need buy-in from the executive level to simplify your products and services. The main reason is logically budget and strategy. Without support at the budget-setting and approving level, you will encounter many challenges. This can be a challenge in different sectors that were born out of complexity. Bill McDermott, the CEO of SAP since 2010 understood that early on and as soon he become the CEO he also started a series of internal initiatives to make their solutions complexities, much simpler creating the simplification unit in their Berlin office.
Martin Wezowski, Chief Designer and Innovation, is leading the initiative to simplify SAP. This is a large challenge for SAP, , but they are delivering and enhancing their software’s customer experience and usability at a fast pace. . Some sectors have such strict rules since they began that, it’s now hard for them to offer simple solutions and transform themselves in both (B2B and B2C). Whether B2B is your sector, it’s going to be a little bit harder to get the buy-in but you will get it as you create the right approach for your leadership. The glass half-full here is that technology often enables simplicity, and every week more human-centered designers are being trained to go and help companies with design thinking and crafting and developing better, more intuitive experiences. This is great for every sector — and remember, every sector needs simplicity in design, customer experience and execution.
An example: CRM systems
Jon Ferrara, co-founder of GoldMine Software, developed one of the first CRM based on the idea of making it easy to use and organize customer data. Before the CRM came along, companies often organized contacts like in this stock photo — cards, papers, etc. It was very complicated to find the right contact or advance a sale in
this setup. Later, based on this same principle of connecting us in a very simple manner, Jon Ferrara
developed and leads Nimble CRM which is helping leaders such as Mark Cuban, and thousands of others to keep connections engaged. Nimble’s slogan is
“Everything You Need In A CRM To Grow Your Business Without The Work.” Says it all.
It’s a very simple and well-designed product to use. The customer experience is tremendous. It evolves all the time; sometimes there are new features weekly. But all the design decisions and new features are harmoniously integrated into the usability flow. It’s all very intuitive.
This model is what all enterprises should learn from: all the new “stuff (features, functionalities, etc.) cannot disrupt the experience or the process and must important the user experience. Rather, they need to be simple, easy-to-grasp ideas that the customer needs in a nimble, intuitive manner. The process of getting there is design for humans and do that faster, but it will begin with executive buy-in and understanding of the complexities of your solutions from customers point of view. When you get that you start to craft the right simple solution for your target humans avoiding overwhelming users and customers.
“The ability to scale, and create a long-term attachment to enterprise technology, will be all about SIMPLICITY… make it frictionless and employees will make it part of their daily routine and use it again, and again, and again.”
While he’s discussing employee engagement with enterprise tech products in that specific quote, it can be applied to how customers perceive tech too.
Whoever succeed to delivery simplicity, wins the competition over the current $86 Billion dollars, which brands are leaving on the table when they don’t simplify.
Simplifying your #CustomerExperience, #UX #Design & processes could earn U a share on $86B market.So Act 2 Simplify
Companies that achieved a tremendous growth as SAP, Oracle and Salesforce still struggling in some areas as I mention in my previous article to find the right prescription for simplicity. Now the good news, their solutions still complex but they do are taking care of making simpler for the users. The “Historic” people’s perception of technology still with us, but in fact, now is easier with enterprise tech, because many of those companies began as “disruptors.” See Salesforce, Facebook, Uber, Pega, Airbnb Wechat, Google, you named. Remember how one of Facebook’s early mantras was “Move fast and break things?” It is easier to get to a place of simplicity when there are less rules and limits.
Now, tech companies still face complexity in terms of usability and human centric design, contracts and onboarding programs and many other challenges. But they have been better over the last 10 years at finding ways to simplify user design and customer experience down to exactly what people find intuitive.
Martin Wezowski, the Chief Designer and Innovation at SAP, has several quotes about making things simple for the enterprise technology world. His focus in to make the future of work simpler is one of his drivers. He has said:
“The quality of near future user experiences will be determined by the understanding if the user’s context, the semantic nature of the moment, the distillation of the user’s situation, individual catering of clocked down choices to the level of being unique for each one of us.”
Don Peppers has said: “The customer will create most value for you at point he thinks you’re creating most value for him”
Mike Wittenstein from Storyminers, has said: “Simple designs are better because they make promises easier to make—and keep. Simple customer experiences are easier to deliver, adjust, and sustain, so customers do less work and companies make more money. Simple not only means a better experience for customers—it yields a more profitable one as well!”
Denise Lee Yohn, author of What Great Brands Do recently mentioned when asked about simplicity: “With all the new capabilities available to companies today, it’s easy to end up with more complexity. But customers want convenience and simplicity now more than ever. So the challenge is to use technology to create a seamless, simple customer experience.” – Denise Lee Yohn, author of What Great Brands Do.
Annette Franz, from CX-Journey, recently when asked about simplicity she answered saying: “There’s a maxim that states: a confused customer buys nothing. Unfortunately, companies confuse customers in many ways. To identify those points of confusion – and then to redesign a simpler experience – use journey mapping in conjunction with value stream mapping.”
U #simplify to Ensure Customer Success & that Your Customers will Stick with your Company.
Now we know we absolutely must simplify customer experience and user design. But HOW are We going to do that?
That will be for our part II, next article next week…