The Customer Service Survey

Simple is Hard

by Peter Leppik on Fri, 2012-06-01 16:04

If you hang around user interface designers long enough, eventually you will hear the phrase "Simple is hard."

Designing an intuitive, easy to use system is surprisingly difficult. Under the surface, today's technology is overwhelmingly complex. The only reason mere humans can use something like, say, an iPhone, is because almost all the complexity is hidden by the user interface.

To make this appear simple, the user interface designer has to figure out how to communicate all the functions to the user (or at least the important ones) in a way which seems obvious, but without overwhelming the user with all the unimportant stuff. It's a tough challenge, not least because most UI designers (many of whom are, after all, programmers) don't think like users.

The same thing is true for customer service. In many ways a company is like a very complicated machine, and customers are like the users. A company's web site and contact centers are the interfaces through which the customer tries to accomplish something, entirely analogous to the touchscreen on an iPhone.

We want the customer to feel that the company is easy to do business with. Customers should not need to learn how a company's internal processes work, or spend time coordinating different parts of the organization.

This is hard to accomplish. It means designing customer service processes to hide all the internal complexity of a company, clearly communicate how to do those things customers probably want to do, and making sure that a customer's needs are properly coordinated inside the company.

But it can be done.

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