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The Lowdown Hub

Here are four Harvard Business Strategies to Simplify the Customer Journey.

The modern consumer faces hundreds — if not thousands — of choices every day. What to read. Where to shop. What to buy. And each of those decisions takes a mental toll.

And yet, marketers continue to champion more. More choice. More products. More bang for your buck. More features, information, and discounts.

Investing in new technologies, products, and services that add value to the consumer isn’t a bad idea. But our research suggests that more often than not, simplification is the best strategy across the board. We conducted a comprehensive, systematic literature review that looked at hundreds of studies on customer preferences, and found that an overwhelming majority of studies reported simplicity as a top priority for consumers. For example, one survey, conducted by leading brand consultancy Siegel+Gale with over 15,000 consumers across nine countries, found that brands perceived as providing the simplest, most seamless experiences boasted both the strongest stock performance and the most loyal customers.

Of course, simplicity is easier said than done. But through our formal research, our extensive consulting work, and countless conversations with both customers and marketers, we’ve identified four interrelated steps that can help any organization deliver the smooth, simple experience today’s customers demand:

1. Identify and communicate what simplicity means to you.

First, building a simplified customer experience starts with identifying what “simple” means for your organization. Our research suggests that simplicity has many facets. It entails rethinking both product development and sales and marketing efforts with a less is more mindset, reducing complexity in product portfolios, price discounts, ad campaigns, and more. Each organization must determine which areas would benefit most from simplification, depending on its unique context and circumstances.

Next, once you’ve identified those top-priority areas, it’s essential for leadership to clearly communicate them. This means adding language emphasizing the importance of simplicity to your organization’s value proposition, list of corporate values, or guiding principles — and then making sure that people on the ground are actually connecting with and acting on those words. A nice-sounding value statement displayed in the lobby means absolutely nothing if people don’t take it to heart. Netflix, for example, highlights the importance of taking time to simplify and fight complexity wherever possible in their staff culture memo — but the company’s leaders also clearly