We would all like interactions with businesses to be easy and painless. Sadly that’s not always the case. Here we explain the importance of customer effort and how to use it.
Life is increasingly hectic for most people. Juggling family, jobs, routine chores and tasks, takes a lot of time and focus. As we spend lots of time in our daily lives spinning plates and ensuring all is in order, the last thing we need is tasks being harder or taking longer than they should.
In our dealings with businesses, both in our personal and professional lives, we want most interactions to be quick, painless and most importantly achieve the desired outcome we are looking for.
We can all think of examples when dealing with companies is anything but. They take time and can induce great frustrations and even stress for the customer. Last thing we all need.
I had an experience last week which was particularly stressful, and the worst thing was, going into it I knew it was going to be. But it needed doing so I took a deep breath and contacted the company.
It was to inform our home broadband provider that our landline telephone had stopped working. After consulting various help guides online and testing different things, I came to the diagnosis that the issue was with the external telephone exchange, and an Openreach engineer was required.
So I went into battle with our provider. I’ll spare the details, but in summary it took two web chat sessions and two phone calls to reach a conclusion I was satisfied with. The interactions took around two and a half hours in total. From my perspective, it was very difficult to reach the outcome I wanted, and towards the end I was very frustrated and irate.
The upshot being I now think a lot less of this company, am more likely to leave them, and certainly would not recommend them to others.
(By the way, the issue was with the external exchange, and an Openreach engineer was required to fix the problem. I’m pleased to say it is now sorted).
Our provider did send me a customer satisfaction survey to complete after the interactions, which I duly did, giving them plenty of feedback about my experience. I was surprised that they asked the NPS question, but didn’t ask a question relating to customer effort, something like ‘How easy was it for me to get the issue resolved?’ If they had, I’d have responded saying it was extremely difficult, and took lots of time and caused lots of frustration and annoyance.
I also thought about the whole experience from their side. It took four different people, and well over two hours to resolve. It was costly to them, too, in terms of resource and time, so had a financial implication.
Customer effort is closely linked to cost for the business. When things are easy for the customer, it generally takes less time and is less costly for the business. When things are difficult for the customer, it can take a lot of time, numerous contacts, and requires greater resources from the business.
Amazon is often regarded as a business which makes things really easy for customers. They worked out that making things difficult for customers not only reduces customer satisfaction, it also costs them more money. I’ve contacted them before when an item hasn’t arrived, and rather than quibble over it or have lengthy interactions or investigations, they simply send a replacement out. I’m happier as a customer, and they save time and associated costs by just dealing with it quickly.
Asking the customer effort question in your survey not only tells you how easy or painful the experience was for the customer, it also provides insights which can help you to make customers happier and reduce operational costs.
That is why customer effort score is such a useful metric in transactional feedback. Easy and low friction for the customer has many benefits, and improved operational efficiency and reducing costs to serve is often overlooked. It might be a secondary benefit to customers loving you more, but if convincing senior stakeholders in the business that this kind of feedback matters and makes a difference, showing that easier equals reduced costs to serve, can be a useful tool in the armoury.
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