This takes too much (customer) effort

06/26/18

Customer EffortIn 2010, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) published a now-famous article titled “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” In that article, HBR conducted a study on customer satisfaction and introduced us to the concept of customer effort. Customer Effort Score (CES) measures customer perceptions on how difficult (or easy) it is to do business with a company.

How can companies use CES?

Companies can measure CES in a few different ways. The most common way is a simple survey question asking customers to rate the ease of solving their issue on a scale of very difficult to very easy, like the question shown below. The HBR recommends asking ““How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” with a scale of 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort). Companies can also use statements such as “it was easy to get my issue resolved today” using the likert scale. A third option is a simple yes or no question such as “Did we make it easy to resolve your problem today?” Follow up with a feedback question to gather more detailed information on what the company did well or poorly.

When should companies use CES?

CES questions should be asked at the most common customer touchpoints such as customer service and online checkout. They can also be used after program or service sign ups, product interactions and website visits. Hubspot also recommends putting them at the end of knowledge base articles or self-service articles to allow customers to give the company feedback over whether the articles were helpful or not.

Companies can integrate CES with other customer service metrics, such as the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). They can add a question related to customer effort onto their existing customer service surveys to gather more useful data.

Why should companies use CES?

The HBR’s research determined that customer effort score was the best predictor of customer loyalty. CES is 25% more predictive of customer loyalty than other metrics, including CSAT and NPS. 94% of customers who reported low effort with a business said they would shop there again and 88% said they would increase their spending. On the opposite end, customers who experience high effort are likely to leave and find a competitor that is easier to do business with. The message is that organizations create loyal customers primarily by removing obstacles that make it hard to do business with them.

What increases CES?

Customers are tired of bouncing from rep to rep trying to find the right person to handle the issue. Being put on hold, repeating themselves, and having to contact a business multiple times are some examples of situations that increase customer effort and frustrate customers. In addition, asking customers to switch channels to handle a problem increases effort. HBR found that 57% of customer service calls came from customers who had already consulted a company’s self-service web platform and could not find the information they needed.

How can companies reduce CES?

Customer Effort Score allows companies to receive real time feedback that they can use to change the way they are doing things. Say that customers are having difficulty navigating your self-service channel. Your company may want to find a way to make it easier for them to find the most useful article for their specific problem. Companies can use the data compiled to notice common threads between customer service calls. For example, if a high volume of people who bought a product end up calling customer service for help setting it up, a company may want to direct them to set-up instructions immediately after purchase or send them with their order confirmation email.

Reducing customer effort is one of the most important strategies a business can employ. Customers don’t want to do business with a company that is difficult to work with. They want to put forth the least effort possible to get what they want. And if a business wants to keep its customers, it will do whatever it can to make that a reality.


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