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Shed that excess baggage!


Guess what – it’s not ‘how much you offer your customer…it’s simply ‘how well’ do you deliver value to your audience that helps you build a loyal customer base. According to a new book, ‘The Effortless Experience – The New Battleground for Customer Loyalty’ customers won’t be wowed by the number of options you give them; they simply want the option that best meets their needs or resolves their problem. The authors surveyed more than 125,000 customers across multiple industries to conclude that customers who have a low-effort experience are 10 times less likely to become disloyal than those who have a high-effort experience. Their point of view – brands that are trying to be everywhere and everything to everyone are not seeing commensurate returns on all that effort. Rather those brands that keep it simple, taking sound decisions on what kind of channel, service, product to invest in seem to grow faster and inspire more customer loyalty. 

When you look at things from this perspective then the decision for brands such as Myntra and Flipkart to shut their websites and only go the mobile app route seems interesting. These companies may have in fact evaluated their value proposition based on the most optimal channel strategy, since the mobile apps have potential to offer a much more targeted and personalized experience than a desktop. Not only can it facilitate the use of the camera for image shots & ease of cataloguing, but also may lead to a smoother and faster checkout by staying logged onto the app. While it does come across, as a conscious decision that these companies have made as the route to serve their customers, jury is still out on efficacy of the same, till we see real results, given the drop rates on phone connectivity these days.

One thing’s for sure – going simple means taking some bold decisions. Myntra reported a 10% decline in sales in the first month after shutting down its website; but its management remains certain that’s just a blip and one from which they will recover soon. While I’d not like to opine on whether their particular decision will pay off in the end or not, I do concur with the overall theme of simplifying customer experience. Clarity of approach is a key ingredient to a winning formula. Remember that offering more choices doesn’t necessarily mean better value. In fact there is plenty research that shows that the simpler brands keep it for their customers to make decisions, the better the customer experience. Indeed, it’s known as the Decision Simplicity Index. Especially at a juncture when we are faced with so many options, those businesses that are bold enough to shed the excess baggage will fly lighter and better in my opinion.

It’s really just a reiteration of the old age truth, ‘Less is More’. And if you scratch below the surface you will see most of the companies that have been able to earn the reputation of being easy to deal with follow this universal truth. So whether it’s Über that routes the closest available taxi to you in just a couple of taps on your mobile phone or Google that promises you the fastest searches with no frills attached, these companies have hit the nail on the head when it comes to serving their customers. And that’s resolving a customer pain point in the least time possible thereby providing customers the ultimate low effort experience.

The crux is in identifying what is really extra and not just removing layers/processes that may be essential in the bigger scheme of things. As Daniel Levinthal, the Wharton professor who was involved in the SAP sponsored ‘Simplifying the Future of Work’ study puts it – while business simplification is clearly important, a company must not forget to always keep an eye on the health of the whole business. Which is why the change must come from the senior management –in fact right up from the CEO level. She is in the best position to evaluate the business strategy in its entirety and make the nips and tucks as required, not to mention garner the required support from different areas.

So go simple…it’s what your customer wants too!

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