Think about your last trip to the airport. Did you stand in a long line for your boarding pass? Or did you jump at the chance to use the self-service kiosk? As two of the co-authors of The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty, we — Matt Dixon, Executive Director at CEB, and Nick Toman, Managing Director at CEB — maintain that customers are more interested in an easy, effortless experience than they are in being delighted. After five years of research with 125,000+ companies across the globe, we realized delighting your customers just doesn’t pay.

On the first day of Dreamforce ’14, Matt shared the Joshie The Giraffe story around remarkable customer service in The Effortless Experience session. A family leaves a prized possession, Joshie the Giraffe, at the Ritz Carlton in Florida and is delighted not only to have it returned, but also to find a box filled with hotel gifts and a photo album documenting Joshie’s extended stay at the hotel. Matt says, “C-Levels think when you wow customers, they pay you back with loyalty.” The big surprise here is that customers don’t care about being delighted. They just want things to be easy and get quickly back to their lives.

The business case for making things easy for customers is in the numbers. Matt defines loyalty from a financial perspective; do they (1) re-purchase goods or services with your company, (2) increase share of wallet over time, and (3) say good things about your company (measured by Net Promoter Score, or NPS). When customers interact with your company and have a low customer effort, 94% renew contracts, 88% spend more money over time, and only 1% say something negative. On the flip side, only 4% of the customers with high-effort experiences renew contracts, 4% spend more money over time, and a whopping 81% contribute negative word of mouth. 

So, you may ask, how do I make things easy? CEB advocates these four pillars to increase customer loyalty. 


1st Pillar: Multi-Channel and Self-Service

Create a sticky customer experience. Customers often struggle on company websites. They need to jump through so many hoops to find help. As Matt puts it, “60% of the inbound calls are from customers who were on your website. A rep doesn’t realize the customer is 10-15% more disloyal before they even speak with them.” Make the customer support experience simple with fewer choices.

2nd Pillar:  Next Issue Avoidance

Companies and customers view First Call Resolution very differently. Companies think they resolve problems on the first call 75% of the time, but customers only think they get it right 40% of the time. Listen here for the Next Issue Avoidance discussion with Nick and Brigitte Donner, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce.

3rd Pillar:  Experience a Journey

When evaluating a support experience, customers attribute more weight to their perception of effort vs. reality. Matt suggests offering reps powerful language to ensure an effortless customer experience. Empathy goes a long way. Think back to your last customer service interaction. Was the rep empathic to your situation, or did you feel more like a number?

4th Pillar:  Front-line Control

Matt advocates empowering your front line reps to make judgment calls rather than escalating the situation. Loyalty decreases as you pass the customer from one person to the next. CEB challenges you to think about the right training and ways to engage agents in the long run. Happy Agents = Happy Customers

Only 16% of the customers interviewed for The Effortless Experience are wowed. The average company spends more money and time trying to delight customers with extended calls and refunds.  Instead, companies should offer an effortless customer experience to drive loyalty. If you do, at the end of the day, customers are more likely to spend more money over time with your company and have a positive outlook on your brand. Are you ready to start providing customers with an effortless experience today?

About the Authors:

EffortlessExp_Authors_Matt and NickMatt Dixon is Executive Director of the Financial Services practice and Customer Contact Leadership Council at CEBNick Toman is managing director at CEB, where he oversees the global research operation and product development for CEB’s Sales Leadership Council. Matt and Nick are co-authors of The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty, (Penguin/Portfolio, 2013) and frequent contributors on sales and customer service topics for a number of blogs, including the Harvard Business Review and on CEB’s sales and customer service blogs.

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