So I just spent hours on trying to go through an evaluation for a contract that I am pursuing. It wasn't the evaluation itsel that was challenging, it was all the hoops that I had to jump through to be able to use the evaluation application. After installing plugins, and rebooting, and talking to support a few times I was finally able to take the test. By that time I wasn't even sure that I still wanted to go after the contract any more. I won't make mention of the software vendors that caused my frustration however I often wish companies would follow the Keep It Simple, Stupid principle. I am a technical guy so I probably have more patience for this than most.
When you work with a small business that eliminates a lot of that frustration, talks to you in plain language, and cuts out a lot of the red tape, isn't it refreshing? There are some large companies that seem to understand the need for simplicity, for example, Google. They hide the complexity behind a nice, clean white page when you need to search for something. Microsoft seems to be making their Bing search engine simpler to bring it in line with Google, and Yahoo, well, they changed their logo. But they still seem enamoured with packing as much information on to a page despite Marissa Mayer's overhaul of the company. Strangely, she gives a very compelling message in this video about simplicity in design.
A few more companies that follow the "less is more" design principle include Apple, TELUS, Lego and some of these other examples:
Some of the most successful companies are those who are innovative, but make it easy to do business with them. It's great to market your products and services with simplicity, but you have to follow that up with making your services and purchase process simple too. Just looking at some of these ads has calmed me down after the frustrating situation I was experiencing. Some things that you can do to make it easier to do business with you include:
- Maintaining a customer relationship management system so you know your customer's preferences, contact information, what they've bought from you before, and their service history if relevant.
- Making your Web site and brick and mortar store buying processes as similar as possible.
- Don't overwhelm customers with detail in marketing. Send short e-mail newsletters to market a few options, and if they want more detail link back to the right place on your Website to get the detailed information. Or better yet have them call or go to your store to get the more detailed information.
Small businesses have the luxury of being able to change faster than large corporations.
"It takes a lot of hard work,”, Steve Jobs once said, “to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.” As the headline of Apple’s first marketing brochure proclaimed in 1977, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”