How to simplify your customer experience?

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
- Leonardo Da Vinci -

Last night, Charlie and I talked about my new venture for several hours. It required quite a bit of strategizing. It might sound too common, too simple. You might even think “everyone is doing it for years, Liz, what’s the big deal?”.

Oh! I never really told you about my new venture. It is really about creating a distinct experience and capabilities. Simply put, my venture goal is to enable people from all over the country to buy my chocolate on-line. Sounds simple right? Ah, there is one more “little” thing. They need to have the same experience as the customers in my physical store!

How can I keep my company vision while not “directly” talking with people? How can I replicate the fun and simple experience of selecting and buying chocolates at my store to a similar intriguing online experience? My online venture requires me to think very hard about my customers’ experience. I told Charlie I am worried that expanding my operation online will create confusion and complexity in my customers’ mind.

Charlie looked at me and told me about a very intriguing book his friend Kevin gave him. It is called Users, Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business.

Charlie told me about the story of Mint which is mentioned in the book. It is the story of a techie called Aaron Patzer, who from a young age was quite a perfectionist about his personal finance. He even used the two common personal finance software packages during his high school years! A few years after completing grad school, Aaron fell behind on his personal finance update. However, when trying to catch up and sync his accounts, both tools did not provide intuitive and complete solution.

Aaron realized these products were slow, complex and had way too many features that no one ever used (or even understood). He wanted to create a different client experience. Aaron and his friends were young, they were in their 20s. They did everything online. They were not used to this type of experience.

Aaron decided he was going to develop a new product. No, not a product, but a service. A service which would be so easy to use, his friends would really use it. He quit his job and started to work on Mint.

Charlie gave me the book and said “you can read the rest in the book, however eventually Mint really lived up to its promise. It provided a simple service which supported the life style and the experiences expected by its target audience”.

After talking with Charlie, I think my first step is to define the experience the users of my online venture, would expect. It needs to be simple. It must be intuitive. My users should know what they need to do in order to get what they desire to have, while having fun as they shop.

Simple and intuitive experience, it might not sound like rocket science. However, think about some of the web sites you “ditched” after your first visit and never came back to visit again. Simple and intuitive experience is my goal. It needs to create as much happiness as my physical stores. Ok, back to the drawing board!

How do you simplify your user experience?


By the way, a few years after establishing Mint. Aaron sold his company to Intuit (the owner of the “other” product) for $170 million. He stayed on to continue and improve the user experience. Way to go Aaron!

About the Author: Liz

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