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Customer Effort vs Customer Delight: Find the Ultimate Balance

Customer Effort has become a buzzword for those in the customer service industry.  There’s no denying that simplifying support can significantly improve the service experience for customers.  But does simplifying service detract from the contact center’s ability to wow? Does delight even matter in today’s connected world? Nate Brown argues that delight does still have a place in the customer experience, and the key to customer loyalty is striking a healthy balance between effort and delight.

I had the chance to attend Nate’s session at Contact Center Expo and Conference today, and he shared advice on establishing metrics that correlate to customer loyalty, along with insight on when to know it’s time to WOW the customer. Here are my top three takeaways from Nate’s session.

1. Satisfaction Doesn’t Win Loyalty

As Brad Cleveland points out in his recent blog post and video, customers are more connected than ever. As a result, they also have higher expectations than ever.  Customers want service when they want it, in the channel they want it, and without hassle. These high expectations mean it’s harder to “wow” customers, and it also means that simple satisfaction is no longer a competitive differentiator.  In fact, according to Nate, 60% of customers who stop doing business with a brand report being satisfied when they left.

This raises the question: is CSAT still a relevant measure of customer loyalty?  While there’s certainly still value in tracing customer satisfaction, there’s a “newer” metric that better predicts customer loyalty. Nate says his center now tracks the customer effort simply by asking: “how easy was it for you to solve your problem?”  He says this metrics correlates more closely to customer loyalty than other more traditional metrics like NPS.

Tracking customer effort is easy, but how can contact centers lessen the effort for customers? It all comes down to the four pillars of customer effort.

2. Four Pillars of Customer Effort

According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) there are four factors that impact customer effort:

  • Channel stickiness: can the customer solve their problem in the channel they chose to use for service?
  • Next issue avoidance: can you anticipate the customer’s next challenge and help them avoid a second contact?
  • Experience engineering: are you actively listening to customers and treating them like lifelong partners?
  • Frontline control: are you equipping your agents with the knowledge and freedom needed to provide great customer service?

Adhering to these four pillars will decrease your customer’s effort, but back to delight—where’s the opportunity to strike a balance?

3. A Moment of Truth Map

Nate suggests creating a moment of customer truth map to plot out the times when it’s possible to both lessen (or eliminate effort) and provide delight.  Plot out the moments in your customer journey and look for easy opportunities to throw delight in the mix.

One session attendee shared an excellent example: integrate your CRM with your call software.  Make notations for special dates such as birthdays or anniversaries.  Encourage agents to recognize those dates when interacting with customers.  A simple "happy birthday" can go a long way!

The key to success is keeping it simle. Don’t go so overboard trying to delight your customers that you create hassle for them.  On the flip side, don’t get so caught up in making service easy that you forget to take the opportunity to delight when appropriate.

“We must create an effortless experience interspersed with pinnacles of customer delight,” said Brown.

How does your contact center strike the balance between delight and effort?  Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.

Look for more live updates from Contact Center Expo and Conference here on the blog, and be sure to follow all the action on Twitter (#CCExpo15).