Cut the Clutter: How to Create Customer Delight By Making Less More

According to Colin Powell (US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), 

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” 

I’ve argued that extraordinary customer experience brands are also GREAT SIMPLIFIERS.

In a world where customers want:

  • what they want,
  • when they want it,
  • where they want it,
  • as effortlessly,
  • immediately,
  • consistently,
  • personally, and
  • memorably as possible

it’s tempting to add more people, processes, products, technology, and MORE COMPLEXITY to the customer experience.

Worse yet, many companies’ leaders try to do MORE with LESS. They escalate service standards (a seemingly noble goal) but don’t streamline technologies or increase the number of people needed to meet those performance goals.

By contrast, when working with leaders at Mercedes-Benz USA, I was struck by their humbling realism, and intentional effort to assess whether More was More or Less was More. Specifically, while planning the optimal customer experience of the future, leaders at Mercedes-Benz required team members to consider what should be gotten rid of to meet goals. In this excerpt from a Mercedes-Benz customer experience vision map, a dump truck depicts the “get rid of” concept:

In addition to asking your team members what they need to “get rid of” to achieve customer experience goals, most extraordinary companies focus on customer empathy to streamline experiences.

Specifically, I recommend my clients:

  1. Adopt the mindset of a customer segment (based on what is known about that group’s wants, needs, desires, preferences, and values).
  2. Do what those customers do as they discover, select, and get their needs met.
  3. Pay attention to what those customers see, hear, smell, and touch along their journey. What do they see when they arrive on your website? What signage do they encounter when they enter your parking lot? What documents/disclaimers/billing statements do they review across their journey?
  4. Evaluate every step and touchpoint, looking for possible ways team members can remove confusion, clutter, or complexity.
  5. Ask a customer (or customers) from that segment to talk through what they are actually seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching. Inquire about what they find confusing, cluttered, or complex.
  6. Based on your team’s observations and customers’ input, act to enrich the customer experience by reducing complexity.

To download the entire Mercedes-Benz vision map excerpted above, please visit the website for my book titled Driven to Delight. To speak to me about decluttering your customer experience, please go to

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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