Moving Mountains by Simplifying Experience


Farhad Manjoo, Slate’s technology columnist, chose complexity as the worst trend of 2011:

In 2011 nearly every gadget or service that I use on a regular basis picked up new features that made it more frustrating to deal with. Everywhere I looked, I saw feature creep, platform wars, competing media standards, and increasingly chaotic user interfaces … But it’s not just that individual products got more difficult to use; in 2011 the entire tech ecosystem descended toward entropy. Devices and services had a harder time playing together, and simply choosing what to use became an occasion for a flowchart.

This all-too-common complaint must be heeded by service providers. End users, many of whom are not particularly tech-savvy, are starting to feel like they need a Ph.D. in computer science and a degree in economics just to live in today’s hyperconnected world.

Customers want to simplify the experience …

Consumers are simply overwhelmed by the blizzard of choice facing them in the wake of the explosion of services, devices and price plans, all of which seem to be constantly changing and quite complex. This perceived complexity is an opportunity for service providers to simplify the experience for customers – to make the customer lifecycle easy and personal across its different phases, from finding a service, buying and using it, to receiving the necessary support.

Customers keep stating  loud and clear that they want a rich and personalized, yet simple, experience – and they will flock to the providers who offer one. In today’s connected world, some over the top and device players are offering simple experiences. One example is Apple, with its end-to-end, high quality device experience, along with apps, content, music videos, and storage on the iCloud; or Amazon, with a simple way for customers to find what they want and “click-and-buy.”

Service providers are expected to deliver in the same way. Every interaction needs to be simple, easy to understand and personalized, and customers expect to feel empowered and in control, or they will go elsewhere.

Providing such an experience requires a reevaluation of service providers’ assisted and unassisted interactions, along the customer experience lifecycle. This means understanding where customers turn to, and for which purpose – whether it’s informational need, bill clarification or receiving actual support. Service providers must also provide a simple and consistent user experience across channels, as well as remote capabilities, to support and resolve issues directly on the device.

This sounds like a lot of effort and it can be really complex to make something seem simple, but it pays off in the end. As the master of simplicity once said:

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

Steve Jobs, former chairman and chief executive officer of Apple Inc.

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