Is Customer Effort Your Silver Bullet KPI? (Part III)

We have heard Customer Effort and Customer Ease mentioned for many years now. In my last couple of posts I’ve discussed the value of introducing CES into your existing VoC Program to give it a little boost, and shared how one of our clients did so successfully – as the sayings go, variety is the spice of life or change is as good as a rest. And both spice and rest are good in my opinion!

I think everybody understands the meaning of effort and everybody has had an experience where high effort has led to dissatisfaction, frustration, anger and even profanity! But effort is on a spectrum, right? Mild effort to pick up the phone to call a call center to query a charge, or higher effort having to return an item via a visit to the Post Office or extreme effort, getting a teenager to clean their bedroom… In fact, it is highly likely that almost all you lovely readers have experienced an interaction with some level of unacceptable or frustrating effort in the last 7 days – and for those of you with teenagers, in the last 2 hours! But how does one define the spectrum of effort (in the business context, that is…)?

I heard Martin Hill-Wilson speak recently of upstream and downstream drivers of customer effort. This really resonated with me, as it very clearly articulates a spectrum of effort from the customers’ perspective which would please the Plain English Campaign. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon, rocket scientist or… my teenager, to grasp that on this spectrum, the more to the right - the higher the effort, the higher the frustration and anger level of the person having the experience.

With solutions, consultancy and technology helping organizations deliver the “upstream” elements; will the downstream elements become a thing of the past? I think they will noticeably diminish within the truly customer-focused companies. A Telecommunications company I work with saw over a 50% reduction in their written complaint volumes in the first year after implementing their Voice of Customer program, so a strong ROI is certainly achievable from removing customer effort, and you don’t have to wait long to realize it.

And the key element you need to mobilize organizational change is also there. Effort is clearly and straightforwardly understood by everybody within your organization, from the CEO to your agents (unlike other metrics). So, if you have the ability to understand and take action with the people, processes and policies that will, in turn, drive higher effort for your customers - then you are on the right path to improving your customer experience.

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