How to Make Your Experience Easy and Gain Growth
I hear things like this when I go into an organization: “We want to delight customers at every moment of contact.” I nod my head and smile, but secretly I think it sounds exhausting. Moreover, it is unnecessary in many parts of the experience. People many times do not want to be delighted; they want to be done already. Keeping it as easy as possible for customers to get it done is a direct path to gain growth.
Whenever you make customers think about something in your experience, you create what we call Customer Effort. A Customer Effort Score measures how difficult a customer thinks it is to work with you as an organization. Like other Customer Experience measures, deriving your Customer Effort Score involves asking your customers how difficult they thought their experience was and then having them rate it on a scale.
There are a few significant takeaways behind reducing Customer Effort and keeping it as easy as possible.
- Rational thinking, which is the type that takes a lot of energy to do, is something customers are not super excited to do most of the time. We prefer to use easy, automatic thinking and save our energy for other activities. Humans established this preference over the cour thousands of years, because, for many of these years, securing food was a challenge. We needed to preserve our energy for other things, like avoiding predators.
- We also use habits to simplify our thinking. Many times, we learn to do something using the rational side of our thinking. Repetition makes the behavior habitual, which is governed by our automatic and intuitive thinking system.
- As a general rule, customers want things easy. However, some specific instances exist where the experience should be a little complicated. These rare occasions usually involve status items, like the American Express Centurion Card, a card so hard to get you can’t ask for it; American Express asks you if you want it. Since it isn’t for everyone, and it is hard to get, customers like that the experience is challenging. Examples like this, however, are not the norm.
- You must make your experience as easy as possible for customers, so you get a low Customer Effort Score and get your customers to come back for more.
Authors Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and Nicholas Tobin wrote in the Harvard Business Review the article “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” There were five principles they shared help organizations reduce the Customer Effort in your experience, which includes:
- Don’t just resolve the current issue; head off the next one. I like how this principle is proactive and removes obstacles that would keep customers from doing more business with you.
- Arm reps to address the emotional side of customer interactions. When your team is minding the customer’s emotions, it eliminates moments in your experience that can cause uncertainty or stress for customers. For example, changing the language reps use with customers can communicate better and put customers’ minds at ease.
- Minimize channel switching by increasing self-service channel stickiness. You train your customers on navigating your experience, whether you are deliberate about it or not. People have ways that they get what they want based on the experience you design for them. Therefore, creating it without friction is essential. Moreover, we would encourage you to ensure that you weigh the benefits of any changes you want to make to your experience against the hassle and disruption it will cause your most valuable customers.
- Use Feedback from disgruntled or struggling customers to reduce Customer Effort. I hope this one doesn’t need any additional explanation; it’s a no-brainer.
- Empower the front line to deliver a low-effort experience. If your company policies are getting in the way of customers having a smooth experience, especially when resolving problems, change them. If your people have the freedom and ability to solve customers’ issues right away, it reduces a lot of Customer Effort.
I would add the following two principles to the previous five from the HBR article:
- Think about the interactions with the customers that drive the most value for you. This area is excellent for fulfilling the current unmet needs in your industry. Look for ways to simplify your experience to meet these unsatisfied wants and create competitive differentiation with your competitors.
- Remember, it doesn’t pay to be logical if everyone else is being logical. Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK, and author of Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense says doing things your way differentiates you from the competition and allows for you to satisfy these unmet needs, too.
To discuss this further, contact us at www.BeyondPhilosophy.com.
About Beyond Philosophy:
Beyond Philosophy helps organizations unlock growth by discovering customers’ hidden unmet needs that drive value ($). We then capitalize on this by improving your customer experience to meet these needs, thereby retaining and acquiring new customers across the market.