The Effortless Experience

Still relying on customer satisfaction scores  to measure loyalty?  You may be spinning your wheels.

When fostering customer loyalty, a common ambition is to exceed expectations and “dazzle” the customer.  However, compelling new evidence shows that surpassing expectations on support transactions has virtually no relationship to customer loyalty!

In the book “The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty,” The Corporate Executive Board * notes that even the almighty Customer Satisfaction Score (the holy grail of customer support metrics) has an astoundingly low connection with loyalty.  Net Promoter Score was only marginally better.  We have seen this principle confirmed in my own organization using lean/six sigma principles.

If we can no longer trust basic, universally accepted metrics, what should we do? Dixon’s research shows that a Customer Effort Score has a high correlation with loyalty and is a reliable predictor of customers’ future spending decisions. A typical user seeking software support does not expect to be astonished; the customer simply wants to reach a resolution as quickly and easily as possible. Therefore, we need to reduce the amount of effort required by the customer.

Two key actions are recommended:

Prevent channel switching. More is not necessarily better. Channels such as the resource center, LinkedIn, Facebook, live chat, email, phone and user communities are great, but we should not advise customers to use them if they are not the best resolution path. Customers want to be able to solve their problem quickly and easily.  Consider your highest volume generating issues.  Over what channel can you best resolve that problem?  How can you direct the customer to that channel at their time of need?

Apply next-issue avoidance. In many cases a customer issue may appear to be resolved when in fact there is an underlying unmet need. For example, the customer may not have clearly articulated the concern, the issue may have multiple layers of complexity, or there may be system workflow challenges. When the customer has to seek additional help, a high-effort response often is required.  By anticipating common issues, we can reduce effort, resolve issues more quickly and consistently create win-win scenarios.

While the primary burden of establishing an effort score my fall to the support organization, all areas of your business should be asking, “What can I do today to reduce effort for the customer?”

* The primary principles covered here are from The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty by Dixon, Matthew, Toman, Nick and DeLisi, Rick.'

Author: Nate Brown

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