Omnichannel, internet-of-things, everywhere commerce, mission-driven service—the world of customer experience (CX) is rife with opportunities. With a glut of options, it’s easy for organizations to lose focus, investing in everything while focusing on nothing. But increasingly, CX leaders are pushing back, arguing for consolidation, simplification, and focus.
Gurnoor Dhillon is one of those people. An economist turned business executive, Dhillon currently leads GoToko, an end-to-end, e-B2B commerce platform based in Indonesia. The company, a joint venture between the Gojek (Goto) group and Unilever group, focuses on small family-owned traditional trade businesses called warungs. There are around 3 million warungs in traditional trade, of which Dhillon says around 2.5 million are underserved, meaning they lack access to supplies, competitive pricing, and cost-effective delivery. While most of these merchants never used a digital commerce platform before the pandemic, that all changed with the arrival of COVID-19.
Cases spiked, the government imposed restrictions, and life moved online. It’s a familiar story. Faced with such upheaval, it may have been tempting to throw the technological sink at the problem, deploying incentive feature after feature. But Dhillon took a more measured approach.
“People like to over-complicate simple problems,” Dhillon tells The CX Review. “There’s no point building a world-class, product-led, lab-grown experience. It’s about what you can touch, what you can feel, what you can understand. Our product direction is very clear. We don’t want to build complications.”
Simplification means more than cutting features and nixing functionality. It’s about condensing an experience to its most impactful form, delivering precisely what each user needs at that moment and not confusing them with superfluous information. But as Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
“Build a platform of choice with competitive prices, relevant assortment, guaranteed delivery, and a different, clear, and valuable experience.”
That’s Dhillon on GoToko’s mission. To achieve that objective, he hasn’t needed wildly complex technologies or convoluted services. Instead, he started with his customers—the underserved warungs in Indonesia—and worked backward. It’s the difference between inside-out and outside-in thinking.
GoToko’s team knew their customer experience had to grow from education. If merchants weren’t robustly trained and confident in their skills, no breadth of functionality would matter. While GoToko lacks some standard eCommerce protocols, those it does have boast deep, rich, and supportive surrounding experiences.
For example, their developers leverage gamification techniques throughout the GoToko merchant app. Instead of merely educating users on app features, game mechanics incentivize merchants to explore and experiment with different functionality. They call these in-app rewards missions and they work in concert with a number of different initiatives like loyalty programs and educational stories.
“We need to find a balance between providing all the things that the customer needs and ensuring business sustainability,” explains Sheren Hotama, Head of Growth & Marketing at GoToko. “Gamification provides a lot of valuable information to our users. They learn how to better manage store operations and create new opportunities for income.”
That balance is integral to GoToko’s operations. As part of their drive for simplicity, they’ve recalibrated how a business conceptualizes value. Most organizations operate transactionally, explains Hotama. Customers browse, buy, and leave. But for GoToko, value emerges more slowly. Warung owners have to learn the platform, adapt their operations, and then reap the benefits. Success and impact arrive, not at the point of purchase, but over time afterward.
For GoToko—and an increasing number of other organizations—the goal of customer experience isn’t to drive transactions. It’s to shepherd people toward growth via a solid platform experience.
Simplified, but not standardized
There’s a common misconception that simplification means standardization. Often, organizations will dumb down personalization and customization until they have a basic one-size-fits-all experience. But as comedian Larry David once quipped: “A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied.” Simple experiences need not be generic. In fact, according to Dhillon, they should not be.
“We can have two stores that are located right next to each other and deliver them different experiences,” he says. “If the segmentation is different, if the customer behavior is different, if what the customer wants is different, their experience should be different, too.”
This dedication to personalization is not unfettered, though. GoToko implements “experience guardrails” to ensure experiences are consistent, if not identical. So although their experience bends and bows to fit each merchant’s circumstances, a lot of the foundational elements don’t change. A reliable service, for example, is non-negotiable. Whether you’re a small cafe in Jakarta, a convenience store in Surabaya, or a restaurant in Ubud, GoToko delivers dependable and trustworthy service to all its customers. Indeed, customer obsession is a value that runs like throughline across the organization.
“It’s a myth that you can have standardized experience for humans,” says Dhillon. “How can you have a uniform experience for a diverse world? But your experiences need to be consistent—reliable delivery, reliable customer service, reliable platform, teams, and messaging.”
Simplicity drives loyalty, growth, and sales
Simplification is not philanthropy. It’s not merely a way to improve customer experience for the sole benefit of the customer. The commercial upside is that simpler experiences deliver myriad benefits. Since 2011, brand consultancy Siegel + Gale has been tracking and ranking the complexity of experiences. Since 2009, a stock portfolio comprised of their most simple brands has outperformed the major indexes by 1,600%. When you dig into their research, it’s clear why.
Consumers are willing to pay 57% more for simpler experiences. Three-quarters will recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications. Globally, businesses stand to gain $402 billion by simplifying their customer experiences.
That’s why leaders like Dhillon are racing to cut complexity. Although he’s only 18 months into his tenure at GoToko, he has all the proof he needs to buoy his confidence in the strategy. Now, it’s about executing on a simple, though impactful, vision: “Improve the lives of the underserved retailers in Indonesia by growing their business.”