UX & CX require simplicity

On Wednesday, February, 25th, 2015 in Featured, UX

This is a tale of two from two companies. Its fair to say that there were quite a few similarities to both companies in that both, were good employers to me in the past. Both had lovely offices in Central London. But whether these similarities resulted in a customer and user first mindset across the companies is another matter.

So that you understand a little more lets refer to them as Company A and Company B.

Company A – Customer First ?

So Company A was considering its strategy for the next 10 years, and decided to hire an external consultancy (Consultancy Z) to carry out some independent research. The consultancy in question built themselves as a company to help their clients develop a customer first mindset. The idea being that the most successful companies always put the customer first.

Of course as a UX Designer I tend to have this mindset nailed down already. But when I first heard about this consultancy’s involvement I was really concerned about the company I was involved with at the time, because if we weren’t already customer first, then what were we ?

Anyway, I was later nominated to be Customer First Champion for company. In fact around 8 champions were nominated in a similar fashion and were allocated a team.  As champions we soon discovered that the Consultancy wanted us all to lead our teams in customer first activities to promote and engrain the mindset in our organisation.

Some of the activities included :

  • Creating Personas
  • Visits to the call centers
  • One to one interviews with customers

I actually really enjoyed the activity and leading a team. For instance I had the company’s head of finance in my team and it was great seeing people do what I do as a UXer.

Did Company A become customer first ?

Well I’ll get to that in a moment.

All this customer first activity culminated in a customer first event and party.

So did the company become customer first?

Of course it DIDN’T, and it didn’t get anywhere near. All this interviewing and talking to real customers indicated that customer’s used Company A’s product in a certain way.

So as not to be too obvious, the product was a coalition loyalty card that awards points every time it is used. Within weeks of the finale one of the card’s major partners announced that it was halving the number of points you could collect when making a purchase.

This pretty much had to be the epitome of not being customer centric, by halving and giving worse value. I was probably within my right to then consider my ongoing involvement with that particular institution.

Company B – Being Simple ?

The story of Company B takes place in early 2015. They held a kickoff event to inspire all the employees for 2015. There were all kinds of inspiring talks, and of course the speakers from Google and close links to Apple had the entire audience clinging to their every word.

The company was kind enough to give out a free gift from to all of the attendees. The gift was a book from one of the speakers. The book is entitled “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success.” It’s a book written by the Man who devised the name iMac while working at his creative agency.

Insanely Simple Book

The author Ken Segall, explains in quite some detail Apple’s obsession and dedication throughout it’s entire hierarchy to achieving simplicity in everything it does.

So was Company B being simple ?

Ok you may have guessed it, but no. The corporate hierarchy of Company B instilled complexity throughout all of it’s working practices. I had the impression that by handing out such a book would  be our new bible for Company B during 2015 and beyond. However no embracing of simplicity took place. January 2015 became February 2015, which probably felt the same as December 2014.

The truth is that both Company A and Company B wanted to be successful but were actually happy to retain their status quo. As companies they were successful in other ways.

Customer First or Simplicity ?

In my point of view, when I first heard about Company A spending thousands of £s with Consultancy Z, I instantly had this thought.

It was what page of an “idiots guide to marketing” did the the agency turn to, to reveal that gem of information ? The idea that a consultancy may just actually do such a thing was actually quite a simple one. I mean the markup would have been extraordinary! Perhaps if I had been in the meeting room when Company A’s leadership team had commissioned the consultancy there may have been an opportunity to wave a simplicity stick in the air ?

For me, and as a UX designer I have to ensure both a simple and a customer first mindset if good UX is to come through in the products that I create.

Throughout the Insanely Simple book the author makes continual reference to how Steve Jobs would do anything to avoid a large corporate mentality, preferring to keep small groups of smart people. Ultimately you can’t argue with the success that has come to Apple has achieved, and in terms of growth that smaller start ups achieve by not having the large corporate mentality.

So if only corporate Company A and Corporate Company B could adopt simplicity they may actually achieve their customer first goals.

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