“Simple is hard,” Steve Jobs once famously cautioned. To that oft-referenced insight, you can now add that it is also necessary. In an age when consumers take their best experience in any context and apply it to every context, making life simple, fast and easy for the customer is an unavoidable necessity.
“The reason why simple is hard is that to be simple you have to have a really deep, thoughtful understanding of your customer and what matters the most to them. And that requires you to make hard choices or hard trade-offs,” says Simon Belousoff, the Head of Personalisation (Customer Transformation) for BUPA, and the reader who inspired the creation of the “Which-50 Awards. Simple. Fast. Easy.”
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Belousoff first shared his ideas with Which-50 at a senior executive round table last year, and with the launch of the Which-50 Awards last week we asked him to elaborate further on his design philosophy.
“The reason I landed on simple, fast, and easy, is that right now there’s a higher experience benchmark of product and services. If you do them right, customers love you and if you do them wrong, you’re probably not going to have customers for long.”
According to Belousoff, compromise is the enemy of contemporary product development.
“When you say that you have some conflicts but the product works, that’s not good enough. If you say it’s going slow but it works, it’s not good enough. Or ‘it’s complicated but it works’ — not good enough.”
Getting the customer to the outcome they want quickly is paramount, he told Which-50. “There is so much noise and distraction, in terms of a choice about where you can put your time. But time is the most precious and most valuable currency we have.”
To that end, when you organise around simple, fast, and easy, Belousoff argues that what you are really doing is removing friction or creating time.
“So part of the conversation I have with my team is ‘how do we create time?’”
A big part of the approach is to think deeply about what matters most to the customer and then to be prepared to make hard choices or hard trade-offs.
“The goal is to deliver very tightly to your customer needs — as soon as you diverge from that core focus you start to add [processing] overheads. Now those overheads might mean it takes longer to do something because the program has to check and take a different pathway. So, you go away from being fast, or you go away from being simple, or you’re going away from being easy.”
In the past, product builders worried about “what they were doing”. The ‘what’, was often the experience context or the digital context around the functional requirement.
That was good enough in the past, but no longer, he says.
“Today and tomorrow it’s all around the ‘how’. Simple, fast, and easy purely around the ‘how’.”
Co-creation is a key part of it, and that means reading the customers signals about what is really simple, fast, and easy.
And Belousoff, as a digital customer experience leader, understands the implications of reading those signals correctly.
“That mindset around a millisecond or ten milliseconds matters.
“And it matters because it adds up to a second or five seconds delay. If you’re not really thinking about that lean optimised code, that’s what makes it hard.”