If you aren’t measuring customer effort, you’ll never know if you are guilty of committing one of the following customer experience mistakes, all of which customers identify as leading causes of resentment:
- Forcing your customers to contact you repeatedly (or be transferred) to get an issue resolved.
- Requiring your customers to repeat information.
- Making your customers switch from one service channel to another because one channel is ill prepared to handle a specific issue.
When customers experience any one of these negative events, they must exert a significant level of effort to accomplish a task. And as the CES (Customer Effort Score) metric demonstrates, the more difficult you make your customers’ experience the less likely they are to be loyal. In fact, Harvard Business Review has shown that high levels of effort not only erode loyalty but also drive away prospective clients, the result of negative word of mouth.
Despite the research which demonstrates a clear correlation between high levels of effort and customer dissatisfaction:
- 58% of companies still do not measure their customer journey across channels.
- Customer service agents are still forced to consult, on average, 5 different screens before they can solve a problem.
- Companies continue to ignore the 81% of customers who leave but say the company could have done something to maintain their business.
Whatever reason these companies may have for overlooking customer effort, they are missing out an opportunity to make needed changes which would increase positive-word-of-mouth, spending, and loyalty. In fact, many believe the CES is an even better predictor of loyalty than the popular NPS (Net Promoter Score) metric since the CES focuses on micro-level interactions, the cumulative total of which determine a customer’s overall satisfaction.
Best Practices for Measuring Customer Effort
1) Word your question carefully
The traditional CES question asks customers, “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” However, many businesses have altered the question, finding it cumbersome or even confusing, adopting a simpler, more naturalistic tone: “How easy did you find it to <FILL IN THE TASK>?” In this revised version of the question, respondents use a 5 point scale in which 1 represents “Very easy” and 5 represents “Very difficult.”
2) Time your feedback request
The CES is primarily a post-transactional survey and is, thus, particularly actionable. Asking for feedback at the time an event occurs allows you to take immediate action, addressing specific problems as they arise. If your organization receives a poor CES based on a specific interaction, you will know without delay where in the customer journey you need to focus your attention and what you need to do to make it easier for future customers to get what they need.
3) Be thorough
According to a study by Oracle, 82% of people describe their buying experience as “taking too much effort”. The challenge for every business is to pinpoint what, exactly, is the cause of this friction. As mentioned above, the CES is an ideal tool for identifying specific weaknesses in the customer journey as it can be administered after every interaction. And because the wording of the question can easily be changed - “How easy did you find it to <FILL IN THE TASK>?” – the CES is a particularly adaptable metric, making it easy to gather feedback from any touch point.
4) Analyze and use the feedback to drive meaningful change
The goal is to ensure that all of your customers select a 1, finding your customer service to be especially low-effort and easy. If they select any number higher than a 1, they are telling you that there is something wrong at a specific point in the customer journey. It is then up to you to identify what is making your customers exert extra effort and make whatever changes are necessary. While this might seem like an obvious point, a large number of businesses will ask for feedback but never take the necessary steps to implement the information they receive, thus defeating the purpose of asking for feedback.
The Value of CES
According to Matthew Dixon, author of The Effortless Experience, measuring effort at every touch point sharpens a business’s ability to predict loyalty as loyalty stems from the numerous interactions a customer has with a brand. Customers who consistently exert low effort across all touch points typically remain loyal.
And therein lies the real value of the CES. It allows you to better understand the impact of a specific interaction on a customer’s overall satisfaction and loyalty. It enables you to address specific problems as they arise, greatly improving your chances of delivering the exact experience your customers are looking for, which will not only drive loyalty, but also improve your reputation and, ultimately, your bottom line.