Behind every brand delivering a great experience is a leader who recognizes the value of keeping things simple. In Simplifiers, Margaret Molloy, our Global CMO, interviews business leaders who put simplicity to work.
MM: What does Hertz stand for, and how does it deliver on that promise every day?
MJ: We deliver a car rental experience that we believe is second to none. Our target customers value time to an incredible extent. Our ability to deliver a simple experience that minimizes time booking and picking up is of the utmost importance.
That being said, we are not at all satisfied with where we are today. We’re proud of what we do for our customers but we don’t just compare ourselves to other car rental companies, we compare ourselves to best-in-class companies. We see opportunities to improve our customer experience.
MM: How are you evolving your customer experience?
MJ: There are many pain points in the car rental category: it’s not fun dropping off your car, it’s not fun making sure you get your receipt so you can expense your travel, it’s especially not fun filling up the tank with gas before you return it. We have innovations underway for each of these tasks. You can now drive your car to the lot, park it and leave without checking in—we’ll check you in and email the receipt.
MM: How far do you think you’ve come in terms of simplicity?
MJ: Was it Robert Frost who said: “I have miles to go before I sleep?” We’ve come a long way, but we have miles to go before we sleep.
MM: What advice would you give other brands embarking on the journey to simplify?
MJ: Focus on the customer and what’s important to them. Companies are often focused on their internal goals. Customers don’t care about that. Instead, eliminate every distraction between what customers want and what your brand offers.
MM: How do you define simplicity?
MJ: No wasted motion. I apply that framework to everything.
MM: What do c-level executives need to do to operationalize simplicity?
MJ: Keep customer truths as a lens to guide decisions.
MM: For an organization like yours, what are the obstacles to simplicity?
MJ: Achieving simplicity is expensive and challenging. While it can be cost-effective once you’re there, the interim can be costly. Additionally, simplicity is a lot like losing weight: it’s easy to say how to do it, but difficult to achieve.
MM: What gives you confidence that simplicity is important to keep in mind when it comes to the customer experience?
MJ: There’s an emotional feeling simplicity engenders, ease, which is closely linked to purchase decision satisfaction. When a consumer makes a choice to try your brand and their experience is simple, they think, this brand is for me.
There’s an emotional feeling simplicity engenders, ease, which is closely linked to purchase decision satisfaction.
MM: What organizational changes need to be made if you believe in infusing a culture of simplicity?
MJ: We’ve rigorously instituted the Net Promoter Score (NPS) throughout our organization. Everyone at Hertz is focused on the NPS, and it factors into our compensation. Additionally, we have customer councils—large cross-functional groups of people who get together at multiple levels to discuss the customer experience.
MM: What are the key indicators that simplicity is driving your business forward?
MJ: Loyalty and the NPS are big ones. We also use operational metrics that are linked to simplicity, like the speed of service—we measure how long it takes for someone to be served, from the time they come into the time they drive out. Clean cars and short wait times have greatly enhanced the NPS.
MM: Why do you think it’s difficult for many companies to deliver simple experiences?
MJ: Three reasons: First, it’s not easy to understand what the customer wants because the customer is not always able to tell you. Second, the whole ecosystem has to support simplicity. And third, it’s hard to accomplish simplicity, especially when there are competing incentives.
MM: What mistakes do people make regarding simplicity?
MJ: One would be failure to align around a central customer metric. NPS isn’t perfect, but it helps us move our goals forward. If a company doesn’t align around a central metric and doesn’t prioritize it, for example, by paying people for it, change won’t happen.
MM: What’s the most recent simple customer experience you’ve had that inspired you?
MJ: Starbucks—it’s amazing that their app stores my morning coffee order, allows me to preorder it and by the time I arrive at the shop it’s waiting for me freshly brewed.
Know a simplifier or would like to be included in the series? Please recommend an executive for my next interview: email@example.com
Margaret Molloy is Global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy