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Customer Effort, Revisited

Posted on  30 March 10  by 

Comment (3)

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a financial services member after walking her through our work on theasystreete key service interaction attributes that drive customer loyalty.  She asked me, “Do you ever get a chance to revisit and update your past research?”  The question got me thinking – both about the ideal state and the reality.

Being a true research geek at heart, I wish I could spend all my days digging deep to re-examine a past topic – but I know that our member’s immediate business needs often mean we need to press on to explore new, emerging topics too.  Luckily, sometimes – like with our customer loyalty work – there is a perfect storm which allows us to dig deeper on a topic that is also of high interest to our members.

What our loyalty work told us was clear.  Two points stand out to me in particular:

1. Service organizations should focus on preventing and reducing customer effort: A staggering 96% of customers who put forth high effort in a service interaction are more disloyal – and only 9% of customers with low effort are more disloyal.

2. The best way to measure the customer experience is through an effort measurement: Measuring effort with CCC’s Customer Effort Score (CES™) is far more predictive of repurchase, growth, and positive word of mouth as compared to typical experience measures.

Since we debuted this research back in 2008, we’ve seen countless members start to measure effort and find initial ways to eliminate sources of customer effort.  But the question soon became, “What can I do (next) to reduce customer effort?”

We figured out there was a new problem the membership was presenting us with – after eliminating the highly visible, known sources of effort – what actually continues to drive high customer effort experiences?  It dawned on us that we had studied that customer effort matters, but not how to drive it down.

And the thing is – it can feel a bit relative, right?  All customers are individuals, with their own subjective views on what constitutes ‘too much’ effort.  At the same time, there are some concrete sources of customer effort too, things like transfers, repeating information, and having to call the company back.

So, how much of customer effort is subjective, based on the customer’s point of view, and how much is more objective, based on tangible things that the customer had to go through?  And, how can we actually begin to get after customer effort?  I’d love to hear what you’ve done to reduce customer effort, or what your experiences with CES have been.

CCC Members, this is a topic that we have spent the better part of the past five months researching.  We’re just about to release our findings via our highly anticipated annual live meeting series.  Or, check out our latest findings on how to create low-effort customer experiences.

Comments from the Network (3)

  1. Mike Donovan
    on April 1, 2010

    Just a thought here relative to prior reseach work.

    “Do you ever get a chance to revisit and update your past research?” This is a good question as its hard to go back much beyond 3 years and reference anything as “relevent”. Especially if you are trying to use the findings/research to sell a change or a proposal that needs funding. An idea might be just to put a lable on older studies like – “This work was recently review (within a 3 year window) and no material changes to the core findings/research were identified or discovered.”

    Again just a thought.

  2. Customer Service Buzz » New Year’s Resolution Series: A More Valuable Survey
    on January 12, 2011

    [...] is the best way to predict loyalty based on the customer service experience.  Period.  (see previous post for more [...]

  3. Customer Service Buzz » Staff Performance Data Series: What Your Reps Hear
    on June 15, 2011

    [...] our research has consistently shown us is that loyalty is driven by the amount of effort a customer has to endure (or feels they have endured), I would have also expected to see “making service interactions easy [...]

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