Customer Experience Customer Service Automation

3 Ways to Reduce Customer Effort

By Karen Waters 16 May 2022

When analysing how good a customer experience (CX) is, many businesses look at CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and NPS (Net Promoter Score) scores. But an often-overlooked metric is customer effort.

Customer effort is one of the best ways of measuring how your customer journeys are performing. Indeed, according to research for Gartner, 96% of customers with a high-effort interaction become more disloyal, compared with just 9% who have a low-effort experience. And, unlike CSAT and NPS, which reflect any number of variables, customer effort is more directly controllable. And that means you can reduce it with a number of simple measures.

In this blog, we’ll explain how.

What is customer effort?

Think about the last time you contacted a company.

There’s a good chance you were asked repeatedly for the same information – from an IVR, chatbot or multiple human agents. And that’s after you likely spent a good chunk of time looking online to see if you could solve your problem yourself.

That’s a high-effort journey. Not only were you passed from channel to channel, but you had to repeat yourself each time.

High-effort journeys like these don’t just affect CX, they affect profits, too. Only 4% of customers intend to repurchase following high-effort experiences versus 94% of customers with low-effort ones. What’s more, reducing customer effort can lower your costs by 37%.

How can you reduce customer effort?

So what can you do to provide low-effort experiences?

1. Remember your customers

Customers generally accept the need to speak to multiple people when resolving a complex problem. They also accept, and often welcome, using various channels. What don’t they like? Having to spend 5 minutes repeating their name, address, phone number, account number and/or problem every time they switch channels or speak to someone new.

Unfortunately, this kind of disjointed CX is all too common. According to Gartner, 50% of large organisations have failed to unify their channel strategy.

Thankfully, the solution is straightforward. First, integrate your customer service approach, for example with a cross-channel Chatbot that remembers all interactions.

Second, give teams a single, holistic view of your customer journeys across all touchpoints. Not only will these steps immediately reduce customer effort, but they will also allow you to make better decisions by giving you a clear understanding of where friction is.

2. Anticipate their needs

Customers have a clear aim when contacting customer service: get in and out as quickly as possible. 55% of customers will wait an hour or less before switching to a different channel if their issue is unresolved, increasing their frustration and your operating cost.

The more you can anticipate a customer’s needs and help them as quickly as possible, the better.

With the data you can get from integrating your channels and tracking holistic customer journeys, you can use machine learning to analyse customer behaviour over time to determine the Next Best Action at any given time. Sometimes that will be an AI-powered Chatbot, but sometimes that will be the human touch only a call centre agent can provide. Either way, if you can give customers the help they need, when they need it, and via the channel that most suits them and their problem, you can reduce customer effort and boost your overall CX.

3. Personalise experiences

Hyper-personalisation is this year’s CX buzzword – and for good reason. Research has shown time and time again that hyper-personalised experiences improve customer satisfaction and increase your ROI.

Once you have a holistic view of customer journeys and can anticipate their needs, you can really begin to tailor the experience to them, making it easy for them to get what they really want, quickly. But to do hyper-personalisation well, you need to ask yourself four key questions:

  • Who is your customer? What channels and devices do they use? What products do they have? Are they loyal or likely to churn?
  • How are you engaging them? Automate your interactions using Chatbots, SMS, email, other digital channels or outbound calls – and tailor the communication strategy to the customer.
  • What are you communicating? What you tell your customers is as, if not more, important than how you communicate with them. Tailor the message to the individual and their specific wants, needs and blockers.
  • When should you reach out? You know your customer, you know how to speak to them and you know what to say. The last step in successful hyper-personalisation is knowing the best time to speak to them, factoring in their intent and channel of choice.

By following these 3 easy steps, you can reduce customer effort while achieving your business outcomes.

For more insights on creating a joined-up approach to contact centre customer service, download our latest guide.

See other posts by Karen Waters

Product and Marketing Director

As a Product and Marketing Director at Engage Hub, Karen has held a wide range of roles across Telefonica, Vivo and start-ups, gaining over 10 years of product management and commercial experience across different markets in LATAM, Africa and SEA. In her day to day duties, Karen is responsible for defining product strategy, roadmap creation and maintenance, release scheduling, and partnering across the company. If she’s not halfway across the world meeting with clients to gather product requirements, she’ll more than likely be found hiking a mountain or exploring remote villages.

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