We’ve just returned from a family holiday to Japan, visiting my eldest son who is spending a year at Meiji University in Tokyo. The five of us travelled around, both within Tokyo, but also to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Takayama in the hills north of the capital.

Our travels involved the Shrinkansen bullet trains, local trains, subway trains and trams. All journeys had one thing in common: reliability. Every train and tram departed and arrived on time, were spotlessly clean and unfailingly comfortable. Travelling on public transport in Japan is a pleasure because it’s easy.

At the same time, we are still trying to sort out the repair of our youngest son’s car, which was hit by another vehicle whilst parked at his school’s car park. Despite hours spent calling and waiting (and waiting) on various call centre lines, the car is still on our driveway, unrepaired and undriveable – four weeks after the accident took place. It seems almost impossible to get the insurance company and their partners to take ownership and do something.

The difference between these two experiences is stark and, honestly, I’m amazed that more business leaders don’t spend more time finding ways to make life as easy as possible for their customers.

It seems obvious to write this, but there are no consumers or business customers on this planet who want their lives made any harder. They will reward ‘ease’ with greater loyalty and spending – it’s the easy way to success!

What are you doing to make life simpler, more reliable and easier for your customers?

Off The Record: Life in Tokyo by Japan

Another vehicle heads for sunset,

No other providence will do,

They’re only buildings and houses,

Why should I care?

Oh, ho-ho, life can be cruel –

Life in Tokyo