Jeff Melton: Simple and Digital



Creating a digital future begins with understanding how customers experience your company. Jeff Melton, a partner with Bain's Customer Strategy & Marketing practice, discusses the importance of designing lean, reliable digital systems that enable customers to get what they need the first time, every time.

Read the Bain Brief: Simple and Digital

Read the transcript below.

JEFF MELTON: Why can't it be like Amazon or like Uber? That's the question CEOs hear their customers asking. And why do we have to have all these people, all these costs, these call centers, these retail stores, this back office? Why can't it just be digital?

That's the question that CEOs hear their boards asking. It's not quite that easy. Companies have been struggling with this for a while.

The place to start is with the customer, and with how the customer experiences you. The customer experiences their providers through a series of discrete events that we call episodes. And they need to be designed. They need to be designed for the digital world, for the human world.

There's an onstage experience that's all about emotion: What do you want your customer to feel as they experience the service? What do you want to avoid them feeling as they experience the service?

There's a backstage experience: Because not everything just happens right there when the customer is on the app or talking to one of your people in a store. That's all about behavior.

How do you shape the work, the tools, the environment in such a way that makes it easy for that person on the backstage to do what you want them to do each time so that the customer gets what they need the first time, every time? And finally, it's about the work itself—designing the work in a lean way that makes sense, that's inherently reliable.

So it starts with the customer episode, but there's more to it than that. Bringing into a digital future something that's really simple and really good means bringing only what you need there. Most companies that are run by CEOs who are hearing these questions have been around a while, and they've accumulated a lot of products. They've accumulated a lot of systems. And they want to do something new that sits atop them. And if you try to bring all of that into the future, you never get there.

So being simple in digital is about choosing only those things that you really need in the future to bring into the future. It's pruning the product down. It's doing integration only at a level that you need to, so that you don't consume all of your IT resource, your people, and your dollars doing integration of new with old that you really don't want to have in the first place.

It's about the customer. It's about simplifying. And it's about doing everything together, not just the front-end app. Because things are connected.

Service isn't easy, because there are things to do with the product that make it hard. If you want to create a simple and digital future, you've got to eliminate those things that make it hard as part of that process.

And it's only by doing all of those things, and doing them in a way that's sensible and integrated, that you get to a place that is simple and digital and feels a bit like Amazon.

Read the Bain Brief: Simple and Digital