Customer Effort: Back by Popular Demand

Regular visitors to our site will know that we’ve been talking about customer effort for a while, quite often to the unconverted, so we were pleased to read ‘Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers’, an article by Matthew Dixon, Lara Ponomareff and Anastasia Milgramm published in the Harvard Business Review in 2010. Academics catching up with (some) practitioners; a great endorsement!

A management tip, based on the original article, appeared in the HBR in 2012 (Making Service Easy for your Customers) and reinforced the approach. This was followed in 2013 by a new article, ‘The Truth About Customer Experience’, written by Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan and Conor Jones.

This most recent submission supports our long-held understanding that customers experience services over time and across a range of touch-points, all of which must be aligned in terms of service ambition and quality of delivery. Customers will judge service based on their worst experience, hence a great web-site will be undermined by a poor Call Centre experience. A focus on encouraging customers towards on-line self service may be a key element of your channel strategy but sooner or later (probably sooner) some customers will want to lift the phone or opt for ‘live chat’, so you have to think in terms of a multi-channel engagement. Customers are the only group likely to experience the outputs of your entire business, so it is also essential that business functions are aligned in focussing on activities that impact customer journey, either directly or indirectly.

There is much debate about customer effort as a measure of successful service, usually in comparison to Net Promoter Score. The fact is that NPS measures overall customer experience but does not indicate where the focus of improvement efforts needs to be. Both approaches have their uses of course but supporters of customer effort (including ourselves) believe that the element of focus adds greater value to business growth. You can’t target improvements if you don’t know what to target.

If you are interested in how the measurement of customer effort can help your organisation or how to develop a service strategy that aligns your touch-points and business functions, please call Stephen Grey or Martin Wright on 0845 8382 159.