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 Review. If 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?