One of the hardest parts of running a profitable business is dealing with all of the hidden, unpredictable costs. These variables create complexity, and complexity, in turn, constricts cash flow and negatively influences customer retention.
So if you want to grow your business, look for ways to simplify your systems and processes.
Hidden Costs of Complexity
Let’s start with the hidden costs of complexity. Complexity—meaning, how hard it is to understand a new software you’re implementing—comes into play early when you’re training your team on it.
The longer your team needs to gain a working knowledge of the software, the more their education costs. The more their education costs, the longer it takes to recoup your investment in the software.
Complexity creates mental drag, and mental drag discourages adoption.
“The longer your team needs to gain a working knowledge of the software, the more their education costs.”
A software’s complexity also affects your team after initial adoption. You went to all that trouble to research and champion a new solution. You want your team to stick to that solution. But if a tool is hard to use, people use it less often.
The dominoes fall, one by one. People fall off, one by one. You’re left with sunk costs (internally) or unsatisfied customers (externally).
For example, let’s say that half of your sales team uses Salesforce. The other half, who for whatever reason don’t, prefer a random assortment of tools, including Excel and email. Business owners and other stakeholders can’t easily track and analyze their sales data and are thus flying blind.
Simplicity > Consistency
Steve Jobs talked about delivering complex ideas in simple packages. Why is simple so powerful? Because simplicity trends toward consistency.
If you’re making software solutions for other people, you want them to keep using the product so that they continue to derive value from it. People tend to like tools that are easy to use.
Making Incremental Improvements
Every business needs the flywheel effect. Over time, improvements to the business can create momentum in tiny increments.
A customer complains about a product feature. You take note. A competitor launches a new service. You realize you need to strengthen your positioning and raise your prices. A team member has a cool idea for a giveaway.
You don’t have to consider right now but will next week.
Put a System in Place
What simple, repeatable system do you have in place to track issues or even capture opportunities? If your current tracking system has proven itself incomplete and inaccurate—due to the software itself or to human error—you might need to simplify.
Many reported issues can be a good sign because fewer issues are lost or forgotten. You can address visible customer support or product issues. It’s the invisible ones that get you.
Even if you can’t fix an issue right away, you can note the issue on your FAQ page or knowledge base to pre-empt customer confusion and complaints.
Your customers will have more patience if they know you know.
Simplicity makes it easier to keep doing something that’s good for the business. Consistency starts a virtuous chain reaction.
Consistent issue tracking and improvement leads to a stronger business and tighter brand. You’ll create a better experience for your customers. A better experience translates into more satisfied customers. Satisfied customers reduce churn. Reduced churn translates into higher profits.
“Consistent issue tracking and improvement leads to a stronger business and tighter brand.”
At Sifter, we believe that issue tracking simplicity and consistency win the day. They are the antidote to complexity and its hidden costs.
After all, the easiest way to make money is to not lose it in the first place.
What kind of successful systems does your team use?