Why is simplicity so important?
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
The findings are summarized on Forbes’ CMO Network, with the top 10 brands in this year’s study being:
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 at 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 understanding, 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 on persons mental models, and perception, obviously, what is easy for you doesn’t necessarily make easy for 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 the key aspects of 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 lot 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 to 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. To 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 e-commerce 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 becomes 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.