You might think that loyalty to a product or company would be driven by something positive like a low price point or a delightful service experience. But no, it appears that the presence or absence of barriers and friction during service and support encounters are the barometers of customer loyalty. As it turns out, effort—how much effort your customer must expend to resolve an issue with you—is the primary driver for customer loyalty.
It may seem like an odd leap to connect customer loyalty with the amount of effort it takes to do business with your company, but apparently it is possible to correlate loyalty on just such a metric—the Customer Effort Score.
An authoritative study by the Customer Contact Council contends that customer loyalty—that Holy Grail—is no longer driven entirely by customer delight, if it ever was. Customer loyalty, it seems, also rises when you reduce the effort the customer must expend in order to meet their need. In other words, the easier you make it for customers to solve their problems, the more loyal they will be to your organization and brand.
The Council developed the Customer Effort Score (CES) in 2008 to measure (on a 1-5 scale) the customer’s answer to this question: “How much effort did you personally put forth to handle your request?”
There is lots of debate about how to word this question in the most effective way, but the idea is to find out if your customer feels that the amount of effort they had to put out to resolve their issue matched their expectations.
Lowering the CES score even by one percentage point can mean huge revenue benefits. In addition, the probability that a negative experience will drive disloyalty is FOUR TIMES greater than a positive one. Let’s think about that another way: Customers who indicate more effort (4 or 5 on the CES scale) are 61% less likely to repurchase – as compared to the average customer.
Friction points can be predicted. One of the most interesting ways to smooth a path for customers is to research what future service issues can be headed off with simple re-messaging or additions to your knowledge base. Look for customer-reported patterns so you can prevent future friction.
The takeaway is this: Having a delightful experience is only one part of why customers remain loyal. Empires may be built on requiring less effort. Some postulate that Facebook pulled ahead of other similar sites and established itself as the leader because the site required less effort.
People are most interested in a hassle-free, friction-free experience. So removing barriers to resolution of your customers’ service and support issues not only makes for Customer Wow—it also makes for customer loyalty.
The strongest predictor of loyalty is a low-effort customer experience. Do you know your score?
8 Things That Drive Customers to Your Competitors
1. It takes too long to resolve an issue.
2. Promises that aren’t kept (over promising, under delivering).
3. Being treated rudely or with suspicion.
4. Being transferred over and over from person to person, and having to repeat the issue each time.
5. Having to check several times to see if an issue is resolved.
6. Being left in the dark, in “support limbo,” not knowing what, if anything, has been done to resolve the issue.
7. Being pushed to buy something—even before a support issue is resolved.
8. Finding the FAQ (and support center information) unhelpful, incomplete, or outdated.
Counteract these challenges with:
Assistly’s 12 Commandments of Customer Contentment
1. Listen to your customers and take action based on what they tell you.
2. Over deliver on promises, reliably and consistently
3. Hire the right people and empower them with great tools.
4. Educate, train, and inspire your staff.
5. Connect every person in your company to the customer.
6. Be aware of customer touchpoints and remove friction from them.
7. Treat service as a disruptive gamechanger and strategic imperative
8. Share useful knowledge. Solve problems and educate.
9. Build a visible brand presence on all the channels.
10. Deliver service fast, and anticipate future needs.
11. Remember, customer service is a human activity requiring empathy.
12. Market actively to existing customers to retain them for life.