Providing customers with an effortless service experience is a concept that has recently gained much attention and is based on a recent study by Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a leading member-based advisory committee for tens of thousands of organizations around the world. CEB’s research showed that in service situations, customers want companies to make customer service effortless for them, even more so than delighting or wowing them.

At first, this can be seen as a big departure from conventional wisdom: delight the customer and you’ll gain their loyalty and in turn their repeat business. But if you take a closer look, effort and delight really do go hand in hand. In fact, in order to truly delight your customers, the service experiences you deliver to your customers must first be built upon an effort-free foundation.

Reducing effort is all about getting the customer to their goal in the quickest manner. But customers have different goals. In today’s fast-paced world of multi-tasking and always-on connectedness, the one asset people value the most is time. Time is a more than just money. It’s peace of mind, it’s sanity, it’s leisure, and much more. When you make service effortless for your customers—that is, solve their problem the first time—on the channel of their choice, even anticipating their next issue for them, and doing so in an empathetic and personalized manner, you have satisfied their primary need and fundamentally strengthened their trust.

You have also created an opportunity to delight your customer, which takes the relationship to a new level. For example, suppose a customer calls to dispute a charge, and the answer is, “No problem, we can take care of that, and I can also see that your credit card on file is expired; let’s go ahead and update that as well.” One study might call that effortless experience with next-issue avoidance and experience engineering; another might call it “wowing” your customer. In fact, it is both, and the “wow” (i.e. credit card update) would have been meaningless had the agent not solved the issue the customer called about.

However, you must know your customer in order to deliver an effortless experience and create an opportunity for “wow.” For example, if a cost-conscious customer—say, a student—calls to fix a recent piece of electronics she just bought, the customer’s top concern might be money, not time. In this case, effortless and “wow” might not be as obvious. A quick resolution would be effortless, a 25% off coupon on her next accessory would be a “wow.” For a high-value customer who prefers hands-on help, the resolution might be an offer of a house call by a local technician in the area, which would be both effortless and a “wow.”

It’s important to segment and understand your customers and then do what’s needed to provide each of them with a positive, effortless experience. Companies go wrong when they don’t listen to their customers and fixate on one issue such as Average Handle Time or cost. In many cases, an effortless experience is exactly what a customer is looking for and will create a “wow” opportunity. Delivering an effortless experience to your customers will create a foundation of loyalty upon which any “wow” can be built, such as a future marketing offer. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing your customer, connecting with them anytime on any channel, and providing them with value, however they define it.

Ready to learn more?

MattDixonBookImageJoin for a special event on September 16th in Toronto.  Featuring highly sought after guest speaker, Matt Dixon, Executive Director at CEB and co-author of "The Effortless Experience”, we’ll share valuable insights, research data and examples that shatter pre-conceived notions of what customer service organizations should try to solve.  You’ll learn about what leading service organizations are doing to drive success and discover some best practices to deliver the Future of Customer Service.

Don’t delay.  Reserve your seat now.  The event is complimentary, but spaces are limited.  We look forward to seeing you!