The Best Customer Experience Is All About Keeping It Simple

They say the benefit of capitalism is choice. Any one of us can walk into a store and choose between a dozen varieties of pickled onions and find the one that's just right. It turns out, however, that they were wrong.

The latest research and accompanying simplicity league table from Siegel+Gale suggests that to the contrary, nearly two in three of us would pay more for a simple service and we'd also recommend a brand to friends whose proposition is clearly all about saving us time. Thus, Aldi -- with its slimmed-down ranges and focus on allowing people to power through the weekly shop in half an hour -- wins pole position in Siegel+Gale's simplicity league table. Lidl is just behind in second. Netflix and Amazon make the top ten, as you'd imagine. After all, both are past masters at helping you carry on where you left off as well as suggesting interesting new series that will likely hit the spot, depending on who is watching.

Surprisingly, for me, McDonald's, KFC and Subway are also in the top ten. I very rarely go in to fast food chain, but when I do, I'm usually flummoxed by the variety of "meals," "super deals" and "mega mega plates" that are on offer. Maybe it's just me? I just don't see what's so simple about mixing and matching offers and then having to go back because you forgot to ask for tomato sauce.

However, this list is as interesting for who is at the lower reaches of the league table. Here you have utilities and financial services companies which, the researchers point out, may be at the bottom of the table because the nature of their industry means friction in built into any service they provide. I would question this slightly with the telecoms companies -- BT and TalkTalk are right down at the bottom of the league table.

My experience with BT is that it takes an age to get through to anyone, and when you do you simply repeat what you went through with the last person until they eventually admit that it's their system at fault, not you. So there is a tonne of work that BT could do in providing a simpler service, such as being able to "do a Netflix" and take you on from the last stage of your query, rather than repeat the entire process several times. The fact that it is shamed toward the bottom of the simplicity league table will come as no surprise to any Brit who has no choice other than to deal with them -- yes, you could change, but where I live it would still be a BT service under a different name. It's ultimately the only game in town.

Strangely enough, there are some interesting names in the middle of the list too. The tech giants Apple, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are all lined up in a row mid-table, presumably because as they "innovate" they actually make their services less simple. Anyone who owns an iPhone will find it a revelation to ask my eldest daughter how to use the thing. There's a load of stuff on it that you just don't get until you ask a teenager, so that has to be a pretty poor simplicity experience. Same for LinkedIn. It seems quite a complicated, clunky way of interacting with contacts you're not quite sure you really know and whether you want anything from.

It just goes to show, then, that as anyone who has ever walked around an Asda or Tesco mega store will know, happiness really is in the simple things. So hats off to Aldi and Lidl for, apparently, stripping out the dozens of unnecessary choices and giving customers a simple experience.

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