When one bottle is opened and placed in a room, the smell is likely pleasant. However, the store that I visited had chosen to open every single variety of room fragrance oil in their selection. The consequence was a highly pungent and unbearable olfactory experience, making it nearly impossible to identify and appreciate a particular scent enough to actually purchase it.
Consumer behavior studies have been done that illuminate the “paradox of choice” and how reducing options can stimulate decisiveness (and thus purchases). However, in the world of customer (and colleague) service, when we have many options to offer, our instinct is to display all of them. This is a problem. Despite our good intentions, we often create more burden for our audience by making it harder for them to choose.
Which makes me wonder: In a world of increasing amounts of information, varieties, and choose-your-own customizations for everything from computers to cars to t-shirts, is limitation becoming a competitive advantage?
In the realm of technology, this revolution started with Apple’s obsession with simplicity. Apple eliminated the old floppy drive before the general public was ready. They removed the option click on the mouse, despite our protests. They removed various ports on laptops – and even the CD/DVD drive and Ethernet port in their MacBook Air computers. Apple seems to be pushing the edge with their competition – but not by adding more features. Instead, the company’s competitive advantage stems from the removal of features.
Similarly, as we have ever-increasing amounts of content to choose from in the world of blogging and journalism, curation is becoming more important. When there are only two articles featured, you’re more likely to read a full article than if there were dozens to choose from. And Twitter – a true example of mass communications and optionality – is showing us that people appreciate smaller, more thoughtful messages. Twitter forces you to choose your points, and words, wisely.
Especially in an economy where it makes sense to pare back extraneous products and services in favor of the core options, consider what new limits you might impose. What options do you currently provide that should be eliminated?