Customer Effort as a Strategy: Comparing Real-Life Cases

The awareness and measurement of customer effort is a hot topic in all industries. Many companies wonder where they fall in the scale of customer effort, and how they ought to adjust their strategies accordingly. The general notion is that a low level of customer effort equals a high level of customer loyalty - but is that always the case? Does it apply to everyone? Not really. Turns out there are actually various levels of customer effort that can be made depending on the company or brand at hand.

There actually are cases in which customers would be willing to go to great lengths to get what they want, though it’s usually for high-demand or unique products. Waiting lists are a great example. Customers gladly place their names on waiting lists for a product from luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Ferrari. Sidewalk campouts serve as another example of extremes customers are willing to endure just to obtain an Apple device or even concert tickets.

The diagram below illustrates the scale of customer effort, and names a few companies that work their strategies based on each level.

Amazon is placed at the absolute low end of the scale, because their key differentiators consist of effort-saving features such as product suggestions and 1-click ordering. They definitely won’t be able to get away with waiting lists, at least not to the degree of Ferrari. Seamless (a US-based online food delivery service) focuses on the fact that they’re a quicker and easier alternative to eating out and cooking in their customer effort strategy. They don’t offer as many effort-reducing options as Amazon, but they found their groove and made it work for them.

Of course, not all companies can make such bold moves with their customer effort strategies. When companies feel it’s time to make effort-reducing changes to their strategies, it’ll be best to start off by surveying the customers. That’s exactly what all the companies listed in the diagram are known to do quite regularly. They will also make sure to not only measure the customer effort score, but also engage customers in providing comments as part of their feedback.These companies recognize the importance of leveraging the voice of the customer to its full potential, especially in terms of effort. Reducing customer effort proves to be helpful to most businesses. But just how beneficial each change would potentially be depends on the customer base and market space. It is up to each company to learn which level of customer effort will best suit them, using customer feedback as a guide.

Reducing customer effort is all about improving the customer interaction in real time. For example, one leading telco surveyed 10,000 customers via text messaging immediately after they called into the contact center. They consistently received comments about their contact center agents not being able to easily provide them with information about mysterious roaming charges during the past month. Customers were frustrated at having to explain at great lengths the issues they were facing. The result was a poor customer experience. However, this telco was able to stem the issue rather quickly. Since they had the technology in place to automatically categorize verbatim comments and identify the reasons behind customer dissatisfaction – they were able to send off screen scripts to their agents in real time, so that they could reduce customer effort and improve their overall experience.

To learn more about tracking customer effort using the voice of the customer, download our free whitepaper.

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