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Focus on Reducing the Customer Effort over NPS and CSAT

sighIt is not uncommon to see customer satisfaction or net promoter scores as the top metrics within most CX strategies. While these are good metrics, you may find it surprising that they do not move the needle when it comes to customer loyalty. What customers want, more than anything else, is to make it easy for them to do business. In other words, the less effort customers have to put in to get their issues resolved, the better their overall experience.

In a recent call calibration exercise I was a part of, a customer calls in, and as part of the authentication process, the agent asks for the customer’s first and last name, the last four numbers of the social security number, the phone number on file, the email address, and the
full mailing address. While the purpose of this process was to ensure this was the right customer, it was just as painful for me to listen in as it was for the customer to provide the answers. By the time this was done, five minutes had elapsed. The remainder of the call took just under three minutes to resolve the issue. This was too much effort on the part of the customer to get a simple transaction completed if you ask me.

In their Harvard Business Review article, ”Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers”, authors Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and Nick Toman posit that when it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily. Citing a study of more than 75,000 people who had interacted over the phone with contact-center representatives or through self-service channels such as the web, voice prompts, chat, and e-mail, two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy.

  • First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort does.
  • Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.

Customer Effort

What is customer effort, and how can organizations reduce this?

Customer effort refers to the amount of work or difficulty that a customer experiences when trying to interact with a company or purchase a product or service. It can include factors such as:

  • Customers having to call multiple times
  • Repeating themselves to different agents
  • Navigating complicated websites or apps
  • Being promised a callback and not getting one
  • Having to be placed on excessive holds
  • Too many interactive voice response options that keep looping around
  • Authentication protocols that ask for just about every piece of customer information available

Let’s look at websites or apps as an example. If customers can easily find answers to their questions online, they may not need to contact customer service representatives, which can reduce call volume and staffing needs. Similarly, by leveraging risk tools and technology that recognizes the customers' voice, it reduces the need to have to ask multiple authenticating questions. 

In their quest to go above and beyond for their customers, some CX organizations make things way too complicated. Having metrics such as CSAT and NPS may sound good, but by focusing solely on hitting a particular numeric threshold, those organizations end up missing out on what truly matters, which is simply reducing the number of loops and hoops their customers have to jump through to get their issues resolved.

By focusing instead on reducing customer effort, customer satisfaction and loyalty increase, which subsequently improves CSAT and NPS scores. 

Join the discussion: What amount of effort do your customers have to put in, to get their issues resolved? What steps can you take to reduce this effort.

Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Journey Mapping, Best Practices