Simplify employee and customer experiences to adapt and grow

Ricardo Saltz Gulko breaks down how organizations can focus on improving employee and customer experience by simplifying complex processes.

Customer experience has gained new significance now. I'm not here to provide any predictions, but rather I want to focus on practical experiences. Simplifying processes is critical because it can save costs and enhance experience outcomes, enabling necessary, practical adaptations. In turn, this ability to adapt can reignite real innovation, collaboration and product and service quality. I outline a plan that you can execute during the new normal of the pandemic to enhance process design, revise complexities and work toward uncomplicated procedures, ultimately leading to improved customer outcomes.

So how do we enable simplification?

The missing piece of that flow from simplicity to retention, renewals, satisfaction and revenue generation hinges on four interactions: How your business works with employees, leads, customers and partners. McKinsey authors Fabricio Dore, Oliver Ehrlich, David Malfara and Kelly Ungerman made a great point: "Executives are typically approaching customer experience by creating seamless, convenient and engaging customer journeys; however, the needs of customers at the moment have shifted dramatically towards more essential concerns." Customers in both B2B and B2C will become -- and already are becoming -- smarter in their buying habits. Requirements will only continue to grow and change. Success in today's world is predicated on three words: simplicity, satisfaction and adoption.

Simplicity is not as popular a term in business, yet it is one of the main components to achieve better outcomes in employee and customer experiences. Companies with simplified CX outperformed major stock indices by 679% since 2010 according to Siegel+Gale's "World's Simplest Brands 2018" report. Companies on the list included Google, Spotify, Ikea, Aldi and Lidl.

How complexities enter the process flow

When former SAP CEO Bill McDermott (now with ServiceNow) announced a major billion-dollar restructuring program to simplify structures, processes and complexities in 2018, he understood that what took SAP from A to B would not lead the company from B to C. Soon after, Oracle (then led by the late Mark Hurd as co-CEO), made clear mention of a "rebellion against complexity" within Oracle and pursued a similar initiative.

Simplifying wasn't an easy process for both organizations and the effort resulted in making processes more complex in the immediate aftermath. The companies were forced to buy their way to cloud leadership, gaining market share not through real innovation and redesign of their on-premises solutions, but primarily through acquisition of dozens of companies with cloud solutions.

Why is it that giants with such cash flow, talent and reserves need to buy rather than create or redesign? There are similarities in the aging process between humans and organizations. Complexities, rustiness, "human manias," rules and regulations become more typical and replace the capacity to deliver great experiences and reignite real innovation.

Often causes of increased complexity include:

  • Human need to control operations and governance
  • Culture, inflated hierarchies and bureaucracy
  • Lack of efficiency and agility

These are only a few prime examples. I am sure you do not want your company resigned to undergoing the same process as SAP and Oracle. I have outlined some practical steps below to renew your generative processes.

How mature organizations can achieve simplified experiences

Organizations are focused on saving wherever possible, so now is the time to enact policies aimed at simplification.

Understanding people again (customers, partners and employees)

Which journeys are your customers navigating? What new choices are they making? Are they still communicating with your organization in the same ways? Ask yourself how you can handle their concerns and respond with definitive action. What role should the need for safety play in new experiences for people? You have an opportunity to plan now because everyone is changing. Better now than later because it is often simpler and more cost-effective to act preventatively and predictively than reactively.

Incorporate recent and old requests for change

Has your organization adapted its services and products to emerging situations? If it has not, then do it now to improve experiences and raise adoption and credibility.

Redesign for adoption, renewals and retention

Are you directing R&D, designers and product teams to redesign aspects of digital or physical solutions to create better, more intuitive solutions for people? Focus on areas that are not being adopted properly where customers struggle with basic usability or clarity of your software or hardware. Simplify!

Revise your culture starting with the C-suite

At every level, are you analyzing processes, asking what is working versus what needs to change? Are you planning to change and adapt your culture to align with today's reality? Just do it! Check your pitfalls; go deep in executables, communication, tools and governance, product and services design. Eliminate hurdles which hurt the overarching experience.

Accept that from now on change is every day

Transformational programs do not have an end date. The challenge is in understanding today's changing reality, so that you can communicate your company's vision with customers and employees, align, collaborate and evolve together. Nothing is static.

Let simplification generate innovative ideas

Simplicity makes it easier to create, to explore ideas and to solve issues objectively. Now you need to motivate people's free minds. Therefore, give teams real decision-making power, and give them freedom to create. Structure teams (as Agile processes often do) in multicultural, creative groups.

Hire adaptive people

Create new hiring processes to ensure the right people come on board with the right empathetic behavior, procedures and processes already in place. But remember that learning is an ongoing process for your talent.

Support a diverse workforce

Many companies are hiring people with special needs, and this is great progress. We benefit from multiculturalism and the inclusion of diverse habits, behaviors and needs. Invest the required time and resources to ensure inclusiveness for all. Your action shapes the most important touchpoints of any human relationship, such as respect for how an organization cares for others, whether it shows attention to meaningful details, and our feeling of safety and trust. Hiring a diverse workforce can also improve perception of your brand.

It is my hope to have provided a series of questions and small ideas to help your organization to double-check itself, simplify and generate the right digital and physical experiences. When you simplify you are creating better outcomes for the humans working and interacting with your company, leading to retention, adoption, satisfaction, renewals and growth.

About the author
Ricardo Saltz Gulko is the managing director of Eglobalis, as well as a global strategist, thought leader, practitioner and keynote speaker in the areas of simplification and change, customer experience, experience design and global professional services. Ricardo has worked at numerous global technology companies, such as Oracle, Ericsson, Amdocs, Optiva Inttra, Samsung among others as a global executive, focusing on enterprise technologies. He currently works with tech global companies aiming to transform themselves around simplification models, culture and digital transformation, customer and employee experience as professional services. He is the co-founder of the European Customer Experience Organization and currently resides in Munich, Germany with his family.

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