How would your company score for effort?
Have you ever thought about how much effort a customer has to make to interact with your company? Have you ever scored it?
“Effort, it turns out, isn’t mostly about what customers have to do, but about how they feel.
“The exertion required from the customer makes up only 34.6 percent of how they evaluate customer effort. But the interpretation side – the softer, more subjective elements based entirely on human emotions and reactions – make up a shocking 65.4 percent of the total impact. Put simply, what matters most to customers when it comes to evaluating effort isn’t what they have to do to get their issue resolved, but rather how they feel during and after the interaction.”
This is a straight quote from “The Effortless Experience” by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick Delisi (published by Portfolio/Penguin). It is sub titled “Conquering the new battleground for Customer Loyalty”.
What it argues, is that everything we all strive for in terms of customer service may be dead wrong – because we are trying to fix the wrong things.
So how do you think about your customer feels? The authors would argue that this is about relaxing the customer shoulders, taking away the stress and making them feel better, rather than making things more streamlined, new, different – and of course complicated.
Here at Loyalty Magazine, we join everything. Between the staff, we probably belong to more loyalty programmes than is respectable. We have to admit there are several that we have never understood, or managed to get work for us. This is not because the programme is bad, it is just not responding to us the way we expect and therefore redemption, customer queries and other type stuff is frustrating and unsatisfying. We get angry when this happens.
How many times have you been left hanging on the phone by a call centre, when trying to get an issue resolved, or had to explain the problem over and over again as you get transferred, or fail to get the non-english speaker to talk slowly enough to make themselves understood?
Apparently, customer service is more likely to drive disloyalty instead of creating positive gains in customer loyalty, so although the call centre may sit in a different department, it is a crucial part of the loyalty mix.
American Express is a company that picked up early on the need to reduce emotional effort for the customer, but they didn’t find it easy.
The authors state: “There was interest in reducing effort – it made sense to frontline reps and their supervisors – but the idea itself didn’t take root with the team. So what Amex did was to change the metrics, so the scoring of performance did not get in the way of the goal of reducing customer effort. For example, some organisations may be too focussed on customer delight, or quality assurance. Amex reduced their QA criteria from 26 independently measured criteria down to just seven technical behaviours and five loyalty competencies.
“Basically, they concentrated on reducing tasks for frontline staff rather than increasing them. This wasn’t a new expectation on top of the pile, but a different way of thinking. This in itself led to confusion. So Amex started with simple language changes, to make their messages clearer, such as ‘I can’t handle that issue, I’ll need to transfer you to our sales department’ became ‘Our sales team can easily help you with that issue, do you mind if I connect you?'”
This is an interesting book that offers tweaks that every company could adopt, and every loyalty profession should consider in everything from writing customer information through to briefing the call centre.
As an exercise, when was the last time you went to your website and tried to use it like a customer, resisting the temptation to use inside knowledge to get where you want to go? Even better, watch while someone new to your staff is asked to use your website. You might find it very revealing.