A Quick Course in Relationships: The 4 Dimensions of Customer Effort

With any relationship, it’s important to make sure that one side isn’t putting in too much effort. This is especially the case when customer effort is a key differentiator for making or breaking a purchasing decision. Organizations can use innovative tools to track of customer effort. By using the right solution, companies can gain insight on the four dimensions that comprise customer effort: Time, Emotion, Physical and Cognitive. After investigating these dimensions, changes can be made to put the relationship back on track.

The 4 Dimensions of Customer Effort


Let’s say Cindy noticed she was charged extra on her bill. She wants to get to the bottom of this before paying. Cindy could reach out by phone or through submitting a ticket online. She decides to place the call. Cindy had to verify her account information using the keypad. Then she had to sit through a menu of options and be placed on hold. Once she finally got through, the agent was quick to put Cindy on hold again to transfer her to another agent. At this point, she got frustrated and hung up. Too much time and effort was spent over this matter. She then submitted a ticket online, with hopes to receive a callback before the due date.

Time is a very sensitive matter in all relationships. Companies should value their customer’s time, and work towards reducing wait-time to the absolute minimum.


Cindy received a response to her ticket 2 days later. It turned out to be an email containing a few suggested links that were meant to help her navigate her own way through. That annoyed her, but she gave it a go. It turned out that those links weren’t helpful at all. Her irritation continued to mount because her query was mishandled, and it seemed impossible to get real help from a real person.

A relationship that consists of emotional rollercoasters isn’t a healthy one. Cindy may now feel the need to move on, and start a new relationship with another service provider.


Bill landed a new job, and is interested in upgrading to a bundle that offers more perks. He decided to learn more about his options by going on the website of his service provider. There seemed to be a lot of fine print, some overlapping, and a few inconsistencies. The more he read, the more confused he became. This frustrated Bill because he felt that his provider should make it easy for him to upgrade.

For a relationship to work, there must be an understanding of everything that’s on the table, and where things are headed. Bill felt put off because there wasn’t a clear line of communication.


Bill read that in order to make significant changes to his account, he would have to visit a walk-in branch. Bill scheduled an appointment for the following week, and left the office early in order to make it. Once he got there, he was forced to stand because there were barely any seats available. He found many other things unpleasant about the establishment, from the noise level to the temperature. Bill was looking forward to just getting it over with so he could get out of there.

Relationships weaken when efforts become one-sided. Bill had to sacrifice his time (and possibly earnings) to make it to the appointment. Then he had to bear waiting in a very uncomfortable way.

To better service the Cindy’s and Bill’s of the world, organizations should shift their product-centric business models to one that is customer-centric. This can be achieved by using innovative technologies to track customer effort and analyze red flags. Companies can then focus on how to shorten the duration of interactions, and minimize the frequency of calls and visits. The bottom line is that improving customer experience should revolve around the customer’s time and interests. It is after making these enhancements that the relationship will be back on track, and the customer will remain loyal to their beloved service provider.

To learn more about how to leverage the Voice of the Customer for exceptional customer experience download our free white paper.

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