When it comes to building loyalty, simply charming your customers is not enough. First focus on removing barriers and making it easy for them to shop, use your service, and get help when they need it. For instance, rather than waiting on the phone to reach an agent, offer an email or online chat option. Ensure the customer gets an answer the first time.When interacting with your brand feels like a lot of effort, customers become frustrated. They leave your brand for another option that doesn't suck as much of their precious time and energy.
In fact, according to research published in the book, The Effortless Experience, “96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.”
So CSAT isn’t the only measurement you should be watching for. There’s another big metric that’s linked to customer satisfaction—and that’s your Customer Effort Score (CES).
What is Customer Effort Score (CES)?
Customer Effort Score is a measurement of how much effort it takes the customer to get an issue resolved or a request satisfied. CES is measured on a scale from 1-7 based on a single question that asks how easy the company made it to handle their issue. Measuring CES is a solid indicator of how frictionless your service is. If you track CES over time, you can see if your improvements are making a difference.
Whether you formally measure CES (which is a good business practice), you can still think in an effort-related mindset.
How CES impacts CSAT
Beyond rating an agent, CES reflects on the full process of seeking help and getting their issue resolved. CES is a key piece of the CSAT puzzle. With an effortless experience, customers are more likely to continue business with you.
If it’s easy for the customer to get what they need, the likelihood of them returning is much higher. A Gartner study found that if a customer has a low-effort experience, they’re 94% more likely to buy again from a brand.
You can work to reduce your customers' exertion, which in turn increases loyalty and satisfaction.
10 Ways to Reduce Customer Effort
Within your processes, it's essential to identify points of high effort. Then, find solutions that help ease your customers’ experiences.
There are several ways to reduce customer effort. Here are the top ways that companies can lower their CES.
1. Reduce repeat contacts
When a customer can’t get their issue resolved the first time they contact you, it requires them to take the time and effort to reach out again. Not only is this frustrating, but it may cause them to leave your brand altogether.
Many repeat interactions are downstream issues related to the original reach-out. If your AI algorithms and agents are looking one step ahead, you'll reduce the number of times customers need to make contact. With this approach, you reduce repeated interactions—saving you money, and the customer time and effort.
2. Shorten wait times
It may come as no surprise that customers want their issues resolved immediately. Keep wait times super-low by offering an email or online chat option, honing your workflow process, and shifting staff during peak times. The less time a customer has to wait, the less effort the interaction is for them. It gives the customer the chance to get an issue resolved quickly without frustration.
3. Eliminate the customer’s need to repeat info
If your AI or agent can’t handle a customer’s issue, be sure any relevant information is forwarded on to the next agent. A customer doesn’t want to explain their issue several times. In the same vein, find the customer's info for them. Make it easy for them to verify their identity and be sure to have their order history on-hand.
When a customer’s information and history with your company is easily accessible, it can also save a lot of time. If a customer is trying to track an order and the agent is able to see that they only have one order in the last 30 days, it is not necessary to ask them for their order number. The agent is able to provide the customer with tracking information with more speed and efficiency.
4. Reduce transfers to several agents
The fewer hand-offs a customer experiences, the happier they are because less effort is involved. Route your customers to the right people. Offer a dropdown menu on your online chat or have AI dispatch customers to the most appropriate agent. This way, when hand-offs do happen, they are seamless and customers do not feel as though they are being passed around.
5. Make CS accessible from any device
No matter where your customer is—whether they're kicking back with Netflix or on their morning commute—make it easy for them to contact you. Provide multiple support channels and mobile options.
You also want the customer’s problem to be resolved without having to transfer to another channel. For example, if a customer reaches out via chat, they shouldn’t have to later make a phone call to get their question answered.
6. Provide self-service options
Give customers control over their path to resolution with the option to communicate with a customer service rep or utilize a self-service portal.
Forms and interactive guides help zero in on the information the customer is looking for—reducing the time and effort involved. Some companies even identify a trigger point if a customer is on self-service for a certain amount of time (say 90-120 seconds). An online chat box pops up to help get their issue resolved. This outreach effort makes customers feel valued and lowers their effort.
7. Eliminate pain points in the customer journey
Review your processes and data to target pain points in the customer’s experience. Does it take them several minutes to find the packing label for a return? Is it a hassle for them to change jean sizes once they’re already in their cart for checkout?
From end-to-end, make sure your customer experience is smooth and without hiccups. By being proactive and removing barriers and delays, customers will feel at ease.
8. Ask your team for feedback
Are there recurring problems or complaints your reps are noticing? Do they have suggestions on how to reduce the effort for customers? Pull together a quarterly workgroup to pick their brains and pinpoint solutions to common problems.
9. Gather customer feedback and share it
Rather than guess at what’s causing your customers too much effort, ask them. Request that they fill out a simple survey after talking with an agent or finding a solution via self-service.
The feedback should not only be reviewed and solutions implemented, but your agents should get the information as well. When your agents feel engaged and informed, they’re more likely to take positive action to make a difference for customers.
10. Provide additional training for your agents
The more an agent understands your services and products, the more they’re able to help your customers. The more they're in tune with customer emotions, the more empathy your customers will receive.
You should also train your agents on how to think ahead and anticipate what might happen next (to reduce repeated contacts).
Continual training helps agents stay on top of what’s happening, including new processes and ideas for making a customer’s experience effortless.
Reducing customer effort also comes with the bonus of reducing your costs. The Gartner study found that a low-effort experience costs the company on average 37% less than a high-effort experience. For instance, repeat tickets require less resources and staff time.
By providing a place of low customer effort, you'll not only make customers more loyal, but you'll also save your bottom line.