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Are You A Low-Effort Service Organization?

Posted on  22 June 10  by 

Comment (7)

This week marks the official release of the Customer Effort concept into the “wild” with the publication of our article, entitled “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” in the July/August issue of Harvard Business ReviewIf you haven’t seen the article, feel free to download a complimentary copy.  You will also find some cool podcasts and our Customer Effort Audit tool available to download.

As you’ll read in the article, our research shows that “delighting” the customer—in other words, going above and beyond—yields only marginal additional loyalty from the customer

We also found that customers are four times more likely to leave a service interaction disloyal as compared to loyal, and the primary thing companies can do to mitigate this disloyalty in the service channel is to focus on reducing the effort customers must put forth to get their issues resolved. 

Put succinctly, loyalty in the service environment is a matter of reducing effort, not delighting the customer.

One thing this article pushed us to do was to think about the prescriptive advice we would give companies who want to pursue this low-effort journey.  It’s not easy summing up more than four years of research around effort, what causes it and what leading companies are doing to eliminate it, but we managed to come up with the following list of five things that low-effort companies do (and are different, we have found, from what most companies do):

#1. Don’t just resolve the current issue - head off the next one. In the article, we share how Bell Canada and Fidelity successfully did this.  

#2. Arm reps to address the emotional side of customer interactions. You’ll find three tactics in the article that will help your frontline reps address the emotional side of the service interaction and increase the odds that customers will agree with the resolution your reps propose.

#3. Minimize channel switching by boosting self-service channel “stickiness.” 57% of inbound calls come from customers who tried to resolve their issues online but couldn’t.  In the piece, readers will learn how Cisco Consumer Products and Travelocity improved their self-service containment rate.

#4. Use feedback from disgruntled or struggling customers to reduce customer effort.  The article shows how National Australia Group used feedback to increase its issue resolution rate by an impressive 31%.

#5. Empower the front line to deliver a low-effort experience.  In the article, we talk about the incentives and metrics you can use to drive the right rep behavior.

Becoming a company that makes customer service “easy” seems straightforward, but as the above list suggests, it’s a tough road to follow for most organizations.  

Our data is clear, however, on this point: If companies seek to maximize loyalty (and, in so doing, eliminate the disloyalty that service often drives amongst customers), they must focus their efforts on reducing effort, not on delighting their customers.

What’s your take on customer effort?  How do you strive to be a low-effort service organization?

CCC members, want to get a deeper dive into our effort research?  See our data on customer loyalty, our work on customer channel preferences, and our latest information on what drives customer effort.

Comments from the Network (7)

  1. Customer Service Buzz » What Customer Service Devotees Should Read This Summer
    on July 12, 2010

    [...] 3-     The Best Service is No Service: While a couple of years old, the title of this book doesn’t fail to grab your attention.  Predicated on the belief that customers are calling the service organization because they have a problem, it focuses on ways to eliminate the problem itself (and thus the contact).  In fact, many of the principles the authors Bill Price and David Jaffe espouse to deliver the best service, including : eliminate dumb contacts, create engaging self-service, be proactive, and  listen and act are (in my mind) also ways to reduce customer effort.  [...]

  2. Customer Service Buzz » Customer Service: The New Advertising Tagline
    on November 1, 2010

    [...] Certainly some of the commercials are as clear and simple as highlighting Dish Network’s CEO citing customer satisfaction data, the highest of all competitors in a recent poll.  Others focus on communicating the low effort nature of their business, certainly a principle that CCC endorses. [...]

  3. Customer Service Buzz » Service and Support’s Role in Driving Product Retention
    on December 9, 2010

    [...] has conducted much research on loyalty, and while we know that the drivers of loyalty in a service and support environment are very [...]

  4. Customer Service Buzz » The Secret to Cross-/Up-Sell in Service and Support
    on February 1, 2011

    [...] familiar with CCC research know that eliminating customer effort is our mantra given that low-effort experiences lead to greater loyalty.  The airline strategy is [...]

  5. Customer Service Buzz » How to Learn from Self-Service Failures
    on May 4, 2011

    [...] has to endure to resolve their issue is the key to increasing their loyalty.  There are  many different ways to create a lower effort experience for your customers, but one that I believe will be increasingly important as contact channels like Web self-service [...]

  6. Ronda
    on July 12, 2011

    We are really keen to look more into our customers effort rating and have started to survey our customers. The information we are getting is proving valuable and insightful. Where can i find information about industry rating standards? What would the average rating for a B2B company usually be?

  7. Customer Service Buzz » Teaching Staff Experience Engineering Skills
    on October 12, 2011

    [...] the last several years, CCC has published quite a few pieces of research that explore the ideas of customer loyalty and customer effort.  To put things into an extremely simple nutshell, here are a few points to bear in mind as you [...]

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