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Delighting Customers Doesn't Pay, Making Their Lives Easier Does

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Delighting Customers Doesn't Pay, Making Their Lives Easier Does

New research suggests that customers aren’t looking for a thrill; they’re looking for ease-of-use.

Ok, throw away all those bromides about “exceeding customer expectations.”  Research from CEB says that customer loyalty is based on blocking and tackling rather than the thrill of the long bomb.  (Hey, it’s football season.  Gridiron metaphors are appropriate.)

According to "The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty," a new book from member-based advisory group CEB, a customer service strategy built around delighting customers is doomed to fail 84% of the time, on average. CEB postulates that companies should focus on reducing a customer's perceived effort – what customers feel they have to do in order to resolve their issue – to ensure those customers remain loyal. In fact, the research – undertaken over five years - shows that 94% of customers who have a low-effort service experience will buy from that same company again.

...a customer service strategy built around delighting customers is doomed to fail 84% of the time..."Today's customer puts a lot of value on how well a company delivers on its basic promises, solves day-to-day problems and helps them avoid future issues. Companies underestimate the benefit of simply meeting these customer expectations, because it goes against the conventional wisdom of 'above and beyond,'" said co-author Matthew Dixon, executive director, CEB. "To build loyalty, companies need to actually think like the customer. This means stop thinking 'exceed expectations,' and start thinking 'make it easy.'"

Over the past few years, a new battleground for customer loyalty has emerged. Instead of attempting to positively impact loyalty, the more effective strategy is to mitigate disloyalty by making service interactions easy. In fact, 96% of customers who endure a high-effort experience with an organization report that they are more likely to be disloyal, compared to only6% of customers who had low-effort interactions.

THE CORPORATE EXECUTIVE BOARD COMPANY BOOK COVER / Mitigate disloyalty by making customers' service interactions effortless. (PRNewsFoto/The Corporate Executive Board Company)Some suggestions for companies trying to increase low-effort satisfaction, and thereby increase customer loyalty?  The book offers a few:

  • Simplify Self-Serve Options – Make self-serve options simple and help guide customers to the option that best suits their need and resolves the issue quickly.
  • Help Customers Avoid Future Issues – Equip customer service teams with knowledge about commonly occurring downstream issues so they can help customers resolve future problems during the first interaction.
  • Coach Reps to Anticipate Emotional Reactions – Encourage reps to use specific, targeted language to guide customer interactions to a more appealing end result; those who do generate up to 80 percent better quality ratings and 75 percent lower effort ratings.
  • Give Control to Get Control – Empower reps to exercise their own judgment to deliver the desired service experience for each individual customer.

In local politics, it is axiomatic that the city government will thrive if it focuses on the mundane – filling potholes, picking up the garbage, effective snow removal, etc.  Citizens don’t want inspiration from their local government, they want basic services provided effectively and efficiently.  It would appear that loyal customers want the same thing.

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