I just finished up the book “The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty” by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick Delisi and it really changed the way that I look at customer support. I highly recommend it!
The premise of the book is that you want loyal customers and they define them as: those who repurchase, they increase the size of their purchases, and they refer others to you. Who wouldn't want this? What I didn't know is that how I thought you go about using customer support to accomplish this is wrong. Years ago I read The Best Service Is No Service and this changed how we look at what we call touch reduction, but The Effortless Experience has given me greater understanding of the other factors at play, which I have summarized into the following insights:
You cannot increase customer loyalty by exceeding customer expectations, it does not pay. The primary driver of customer loyalty is the customer’s perceived effort. Any customer service interaction, regardless of how well it goes, is 4 times more likely to drive disloyalty than loyalty. Track the Customer Effort Score and Touch Index and relentless eliminate everything, from all aspects of the organization, that drive them up.
To reduce touches you want to eliminate the reason for the problem in the first place, failing that you to want resolve the issue on first contact, and you want to go further, and include next issue avoidance in that first content. If they have had to contact us, let’s use the contact to make sure that we find and correct anything else that could cause them to have to contact us again. Track repeat contacts from Customers within 7 days and continuously eliminate reasons for why that happens and drive this number down.
Customer perceived effort is increased by having to initiate multiple contacts, repeating information, having to switch service channels (most importantly from self serve), being transferred, and being treated in a generic manner. Eliminate all of these aggravation points.
Most customers prefer to self serve. It is not about getting customers to use self serve, it is about getting them to stay in self serve. Guided self serve versus customer choice works best. Customers who attempt to self serve and then have to resort to picking up the phone are 10% more disloyal. Invest in self serve. Investing further downstream is like shutting the barn door after the horse is out.
Customer perceived effort is very different than actual effort. You can engineer the Customers perception by advocating for them, using positive language (don’t say no) and anchoring. To effectively use anchoring you need to know the root cause of the customer’s problem, not their stated problem so that you can set the stage for a solution, albeit a compromise, that could work for them.
Top customer service reps are; resilient, handle pressure well, take responsibility for their own actions, respond well to constructive criticism and are able to concentrate on tasks over extended periods of time. These traits can be grown (nurture versus nature) by providing autonomy and eliminating micro management, building trust, having alignment with company goals, and peer support.