Simplicity: The key to great customer experience

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This post originally appeared on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

The discipline of branding is undergoing radical change as companies realize that customer experience—rather than clever words and artfully designed logos—drives trust, loyalty and retention. A cacophony of messages streaming from multiple media at an accelerating pace means that each interaction, collectively the customer experience, must carry the brand. No interaction is too brief, too mundane or too inconsequential to be dismissed.

So what is the DNA of a great brand experience? In a word: simplicity. Simpler experiences are more valuable to consumers, as our research shows 64 percent are willing to pay a premium for it. Here are four simple ways to think about simplicity to improve customer experience.

Remember simple is not simplistic

Imbuing a brand experience with simplicity does not mean that a product or service becomes simplistic or watered down. Google, Netflix and Amazon are all brands built on services that are highly complex in terms of digital capabilities, but ultimately offer solutions that are tailored to users and make their lives easier via simplicity.

Simplicity is achieved when two key components intersect: clarity and surprise. It implies consideration—taking the time and effort to know an audience well enough to understand just how much information they need – clarity – and then delivering it in a way that is truly fresh – surprise. Combining these two elements allows a brand to appeal both logically and emotionally.

Clarity matters in more than just diamonds

Clarity accentuates authenticity and increases productivity by reinforcing “what” we want to do with the substance of “how” and “why.” For example, Volvo’s “Our Idea of Luxury is Simplicity,” campaign substantiates clarity by entwining the XC90 model’s simplicity with luxury, appealing to comfort, convenience and peace of mind (e.g., safety) – all that Volvo has become known for.

While clarity can be a point of competitive differentiation, it requires streamlining, consolidating and straightforward customer communication.

The element of surprise is still advantageous

True simplicity also has an element of the unexpected.

To harken to the previous example, Volvo didn’t stop when it achieved clarity in its experience. It also offered “Volvo Reality,” a virtual reality driving experience that allows people to use an app on their smartphone and Google Cardboard as a viewer to start “driving.” It also created a series of virtual reality experiences building upon each other as segments, much as real-world experience is multi-layered. “Volvo Reality” was a success, garnering 238 million media impressions.

However, surprise does not always require employing groundbreaking new technology. Moments of wonder and astonishment are rare and resonate on a visceral level without requiring much thought. In that way, they are “simple.”

Why simplicity matters now more than ever

In a world crowded with experiences, clarity provides the ultimate value—time saved. And with our attention divided across platforms, surprise delivers delight.

Technology has increased the speed and volume of information at an exponential pace while people have less free time and increased decision-making responsibility. The channels and touchpoints through which a brand is experienced may change, but the lens of simplicity will help organizations determine how to use these channels to deliver value.

Perhaps most important, an ethos of simplicity demonstrates customer centricity. Faced with a constant stream of choice and access to a universe of online information, individuals seek simplicity to feel in control, bolster confidence and achieve peace of mind. Brands that deliver clarity and surprise through customer experience are tapping into a burgeoning marketplace demand—and will ultimately win its loyalty.

David Srere is co-CEO and chief strategy officer at Siegel+Gale. Follow him on Twitter:@David_Srere

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