ST. LOUIS (Feb. 11, 2016) — Simple is simple. Simple doesn't always mean easy. And, sometimes simple is actually hard to pull off.
But some companies and service providers have mastered the art of simplicity. In doing so, they've created customer experiences that are easier, frictionless and more desirable.
Siegle+Gale, a branding firm that's part of New York City-based Omnicom Group, recently released its Global Brand Simplicity Index. For the third straight year, Aldi Inc., the grocery store chain, ranked first — or should I say, simplest. The grocer won this honor because of a number of things, but most notably for its “uncomplicated offers.”
So, I started thinking about the experiences I've had that are simple. I remember going to a restaurant in upstate New York that offered no menus. They didn't need them. I'll never forget what the server said when it was time for us to order. She said, “We have three things that we serve…. We have steak. We have lobster. And, we have steak and lobster.”
She added: “Let me know if that doesn't appeal to you and we'll find something else for you.”
It doesn't get much simpler than that.
You may be familiar with In-N-Out Burger Inc., a regional chain of fast food restaurants with locations primarily in the American Southwest and Pacific coast. The hamburger chain is known for high quality, fresh burgers and fries. And, by the way, other than drinks, which include soft drinks and milk shakes, that's all they serve — burgers and fries. Of course you can add a slice of cheese to the burger, but what you won't find is a chicken sandwich or any other option that takes away from the beautifully simple concept of In-N-Out Burger.
Chic-fil-A is another example. The restaurant chain expanded from chicken sandwiches to chicken wraps and salads with chicken. What you won't find is a hamburger.
Ted Drewes is a frozen custard stand that sells — frozen custard. Nothing else. You can't get regular ice cream. You can't get gelato. You can only get desserts with frozen custard. If you want a piece of chocolate cake for dessert, you'll have to go somewhere else.
How about MetLife Inc.? The company created “insurance in a box.”
Now, I can't speak to the success of the product, but MetLife did create a super-simple way to buy life insurance. You go to a Walmart store, take the box — which clearly states the details of a very simple life insurance policy — to the cashier, pay for it and go home and register your policy. The goal was to create the simplest way ever to buy life insurance.
Think about how easy it is to buy something on Amazon.com. Once you set up your account, you can find an item you want and use the company's “one-click” check-out process. Just one click and you've bought it. Simplicity at the highest level.
How do these examples apply to your business?
Simplicity can enhance the customer experience you provide and give you a competitive advantage. What else do you need to be convinced to take a look at the experience your customer has with you, and where you can simplify the process?
Shep Hyken operates St. Louis-based Shepard Presentations L.L.C. and is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author who periodically contributes columns to Tire Business. He can be reached at 314-692-2200 or via his website. Information on his customer service training programs is available by clicking here. This piece originally appeared in Shep's e-newsletter, The Shepard Letter. Follow him on Twitter: @Hyken