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Managing Complexity

by David Brock on July 17th, 2012

It should come as no surprise to anyone that has been semi-conscious over the past decade, that our worlds are becoming increasingly complex.  Our jobs, and those of our customers are more complex and difficult.  Fewer people doing more.  The rate of change is accelerating.  We have too little time to accomplish even our “A” priorities.  In a recent IBM CMO Study, 79% of the respondents expect high/very high level of complexity over the next 5 years, yet only 48% felt prepared to deal with it.

There are lots of technologies, some of which many of the readers may sell, that are supposed to make our lives easier.  Instead, they seem to have made us more available.  We are reachable 7×24 and with new mobile technologies, there is no place to hide.  We can be reached wherever we might be.

Dealing with the ever increasing complexity of our business and personal lives is the issue for all of us and our customers.  Getting some level of sanity, or at least manageability is critical to all of us.

Managing complexity for our customers–helping them radically simplify or even just deal with it–can become one of the greatest areas of value creation for us.  There are all sorts of ways we might look at this.  Clearly, many of technology, IT, Cloud or software solutions can help this.  Taking some of the customer’s work over, through various forms of outsourcing can do this.  Providing insights and ideas to help customers look at their businesses in different ways, simplifying them, can also be helpful.

There are ways we can help our customers in managing complexity in their buying process.  Being the “easiest to do business with” can be an important differentiator.   Easy buying processes, painless contracting, order entry, customer fulfillment.  Easy, responsive customer service extends this value through the life cycle of the customer’s relationship with us.

Selling differently can reduce the complexity.   Sometimes our reactions to complexity are the opposite of what is needed. It is almost natural in a complex world to provide very complex responses.  Our interactions with the customer become more complex, we bring more resources, we drill into issues in great detail, we present our solutions, differentiating them with overwhelming amounts of data and information. 

Overlay that with the pride we have in our solutions.  We believe in what we sell, we are proud and want to inflict that pride on our customers.  Burying them in 200 page PowerPoint presentations that makes Castro’s 9 hour speeches seem like examples in brevity.  We further inundate them with every relevant and irrelevant piece of marketing materials we can provide.  (Sometimes, I think sales people think customers make decisions based purely on the weight of materials and information we provide on our solutions.

In the end, our customers are drowning in information and data from us as well as our competitors.  They are confused, frustrated, overwhelmed, and sometimes paralyzed.  Rather than sorting through everything and making a decision, it’s easier for them to live with the status quo and make no decision.

Radical simplification in how we work with our customers, both during and after their buying process becomes a valued differentiator.  Managing or removing complexity through their entire customer experience becomes the most valued aspect of our solution.

There’s an added benefit to managing or removing complexity for our customer.  It has the potential of managing or removing complexity (and cost) from our own organizations and businesses.

What are you doing to manage or remove complexity for your customers?  Not only in the solutions you provide, but in the customer experience you create.

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  1. Hi Dave

    Smart ideas. What we can gain from a reflective look at our customer’s world. Differentiators abound. I find that many of my customers are very appreciative of the stories I tell that help them see exactly how what we do helps them, and how they can justify it as a priority for the business. Once they have those things, they are much more motivated for the rest of the ride.

    Don F Perkins

    • Thanks for the great comment Don. Stories are critical in helping the customer visualize opportunities and what we are trying to do. I think they are very powerful in the sales process. Having said that, they don’t always help in tangibly reducing complexity, so we have to be focused in the stories we tell.

      I also think there is much that can be done in removing complexity from the whole customer experience–how we engage and interact on a day to day basis.

      As always, it’s great to see you joining the conversation.

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