Effort versus Delight

Reading this HBR article was a super helpful reframing of a lot of narratives I’ve been wondering about …

The authors argue that to make your customer delighted is too abstract of a goal, and it’s better to simply measure the amount of effort they’re applying to exact an outcome. It’s totally pragmatic. I love it.

Two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy. First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does. Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.”

This line here is gold: “Telling frontline reps to exceed customers’ expectations is apt to yield confusion, wasted time and effort, and costly giveaways. Telling them to “make it easy” gives them a solid foundation for action.”

The authors suggest a Customer Effort Score:

 “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” On a scale from 1 (very low effort) to 5 (very high effort). 

This fifth guideline is so simple:

“Empower the front line to deliver a low-effort experience.”

The particular “two pie” zero sum game this method addresses is explained here:

Another way to think about the sources of customer loyalty is to imagine two pies—one containing things that drive loyalty and the other containing things that drive disloyalty. The loyalty pie consists largely of slices such as product quality and brand; the slice for service is quite small. But service accounts for most of the disloyalty pie. We buy from a company because it delivers quality products, great value, or a compelling brand. We leave one, more often than not, because it fails to deliver on customer service.

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  • Instead of working hard to imagine that you can drive loyalty upwards, consider how easy it is to drive loyalty downwards, instead. Driving loyalty downwards can have a overall greater impact on growing loyalty because it changes faster (downwards) than normal loyalty growth methods behave.
  • In this new age of “loyalty data” as a function of purchases being made and the data analytics that are possible around it, one thing to note is that the customer support piece is more important to understand (which it ignores). In many senses, that can include onboarding and re-onboarding and not just the typical emphasis on the “customer care” function.
  • The role of brand remains key because it’s an intangible “belongingness” factor that connects the values of the customer with the values of the company. This is both in the pre- and post-purchase loops as the intangible narrative that “tractor beams” the consumer’s heart (and wallet) irrationally to your offering. Customer support is often more important than the product/service itself when reinforcing you brand.
  • Price cannot be ignored as a key factor when it comes to recurring revenue products. Yes, the ticket price is smaller than when compared with a one-time purchase. But with all the fees spread across the average consumer today, it’s easy for the entire network of companies siphoning revenue out of a consumer at the rate of $10/month or $20/month where the relative value of vastly different offerings can be compared/contrasted by the consumer. So benchmarking is important not just within your industry, but also outside of it too.