What’s Your Low Customer Effort Strategy?

David Lloyd | August 21, 2014

It’s a simple question really. How good is your customer engagement? Do you truly deliver a low customer effort experience? Nothing fancy, but an exceptionally important question. Since roughly 57% of customers that your live agents end up talking to started on your web site1 or perhaps on mobile and maybe even social, something is obviously not working. In a recent article, McKinsey found that “Digital customer service has become a significant factor in both purchase and service transactions: roughly 70 percent of telecommunications purchase journeys occur in part or in whole online, as do 90 percent of service journeys”,2 they just don’t necessarily end successfully there.

When speaking with CMO’s, executives in online experience or the contact center, there is a disconnect between the poor experience in the key digital channels and the results they see in live environments (phone, chat and we’ll stretch and include email as well). This ultimately affects your share-of-wallet for your customer, brand loyalty/recommendation and servicing costs. Everyone seems perplexed, yet I find that answering the question on low customer effort is actually incredibly easy if you are ready to “try your own dog food” so-to-speak.

The simplest way for most individuals to determine whether they are low customer effort organizations is to:

  • Identify 5-7 questions customers typically ask. Talk to your call center or look at your own current web environment at the “frequently asked questions”….a bit of a misnomer as FAQs likely don’t dynamically update to reflect change in customer needs, but likely the best proxy you’ll have.
  • Using those 5-7 questions, use your web site (good or bad most of you have search) and pop those questions into the search box.
  • Look at the results and begin the process of scanning the content to see if an appropriate answer is in the group. Be critical, how many links were returned, how many did you need to preview or click through and did you find an answer? Could there really be 300 links to the question on changing your billing address?
  • Was the content you received actionable? Was it an answer or a 3 page PDF you needed to read to find the relevant paragraph?
  • Rinse and repeat for the other questions.

Next, score the outcome on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating that the right answer was presented immediately with the relevant content that did not require you to scan all the possible links or call, and a score of 5 meaning you could not find the relevant answer based on the question you asked. For 2,3 & 4 use these as proxies to the amount of time and effort needed to discover the answer (hint your customers are not going to invest more than a minute to get an answer) so let 2 be 2 minutes and so on. Low customer effort = low score!

If your score is in the range of 5-9 for 5 questions that’s a solid start. Keep pushing on other questions as well. Most firms typically have between 200-300 core questions that are relevant to the cross section of customers. If your score is 10 or more you’re likely not enabling effective customer self-service and engagement through low customer effort. It’s not about “delighting” your customers, it’s about “one and done”, value my time and let me get on with my day.