Make life easy. Keep it simple. Be convenient. These are benefits that will never go out of date. The proliferation of product and service options, and the diffusion of accelerating technologies have made decision-making more difficult than ever.
Information overload sometimes confuses rather than confirms, making us uncertain. Through the use of technology, we some times make the service experience more difficult, more complex, more frustrating.
According to a recent report in Automotive News, technologies in our vehicles are changing our perceptions about ease in relations to cars and driving. (Most Americans are familiar with J.D. Power’s surveys of customer satisfaction, product quality, and buyer behavior across a wide variety of industries.) The concept of ease is evolving. Ease is a three-dimensional concept.
Ease of choice. Make a brand decision easy to choose. We are living in an over-choiced world. It is difficult to select the best toothbrush for my needs. Hard, medium, soft bristles? Battery powered, electric powered, no power? Crest, Colgate, Braun, Store brand? In other words, we do not want manual? Oscillating, fixed, vibrating? Is it worth the time and mental effort? We do not want increases in the difficulty of decision-making. It is the role of the marketer to take the complexity out of choice. Reduce choice complexity. How many brands of olive oil do we really need?
Ease of. Make the product or service easy to use. Make it easy to learn how to use a product or service. Overly complicated products and services cause us to feel inept or inadequate, and, sometimes, cause us to feel stupid. One of the genius insights of the design of Apple products was to make them easy and intuitive to use. J.D. Power data indicate that ease of the user interface affects whether a driver chooses to actually use a specific feature. Lane-keeping systems and lane-changing warnings fall into this category. People do not want to feel stupid. If a product is too complicated to use, people will avoid it.
Again, J.D. Power survey data show that problems with DTU (difficult to use) are much more frequently occurring than quality problems. When J.D. Power started the car surveys 50 years ago, the studies were replete with mechanical malfunction issues. This is not the case today. Now, the surveys are rich with DTU problems. “Even if a feature works as designed, if it is not intuitive, consumers will ding the vehicle’s feature as having poor quality,” says retiring J.D. Power CEO, Finbarr O’Neill.
Ease of Mind. People want to feel comfortable with their decisions. Feeling satisfied not only reflects a good choice and ease of use, it also means that I can relax and feel better about my decisions.
Ease of mind raises all kinds of questions: Did I make the right choice? Am I comfortable with the decision? Am I doing the right thing for me? Am I doing the right thing for my family? Am I doing the right thing for the community? Am I doing the right thing for future generations? The rise of autonomous vehicles is altering perceptions of uneasiness when it comes to driving. Automation and artificial intelligence will make our lives easier. Will they also put our minds at ease? Does occupying an autonomous vehicle require more confidence in the vehicle or a different sort of confidence? What will it take to deliver ease of mind to a passenger who is in the driver’s seat but not actually driving?
The Three Dimensions of Ease are not some warm-and-fuzzy thoughts about convenience. Making our lives easy is a powerful product and service benefit. Amazon is a brand built on making our lives easy. They make it easy to choose and buy. They make their site easy to use. The provide ease of mind with superior service and guarantees. As our world becomes more technical, digital, and complex, brands should aim to win across the three dimensions of ease: ease of choice, ease of use, and ease of mind across the entire brand experience.