- By Keith Kirkpatrick
- May 13, 2022
One of the most frustrating things about being a parent is having to ask a child to complete a task, only to find it hasn’t been done, and then having to request its completion repeatedly. In addition to the task not being completed in a timely manner, the level of frustration and anger rises, which can put a serious strain on that relationship. That said, parents cannot simply refuse to interact or engage with the child, no matter how frustrating the encounters may be.
That is not true, though, for customers that experience frustration with the companies with whom they do business. Various large scale surveys, such as the dated, but oft-cited one published in the Harvard Business Review, have found that reducing customer effort, or the working they must do to get their problem solved, directly impacts customer loyalty, and devising strategies to reduce customer effort can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.
Reducing customer effort is generally about reducing friction during interactions, increasing speed and efficiency, and eliminating repetition of processes or information sharing. Several examples of how these strategies can be achieved include:
- Deploy self-service options to handle routine or basic customer issues: Customers value speed and convenience, particularly when seeking basic information, such as account details, transaction details, and even product information. Making customers speak with live agents to get this information not only increases friction (and frustration), but also increases your organization’s labor costs and diverts human workers away from high-touch or complex situations where they’re needed the most.
- Utilize technology to authenticate users:Customers are often required to validate or authenticate themselves several times when interacting with customer service or account professionals, which can be a frustrating and tedious process. Consider streamlining this necessary function by incorporating technology solutions (such as the use of voice biometrics) so customers don’t need to be validated manually each time they are transferred or escalated to new agents.
- Anticipate the customer’s needs: Customers’ time and patience are in short supply. By anticipating the customer’s needs (such as automatically sending a link to a video tutorial explaining how to use a newly ordered product) can not only make the customer’s experience better, but can also reduce the number of follow-up support calls.
- Make it easy to find the right team member to handle an inquiry: Provide customers with a limited number of self-selection options through your interactive voice response (IVR) system so they are quickly connected with the right department, and use automatic call distribution (ACD) technology ensure to provide advanced call queuing and routing to ensure customers are served as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Train and empower team members to provide a low-effort CX: A truly customer-focused experience means readjusting or focusing the company on the customer and their preferred means of engaging with a company. Instead of transferring customers to different departments or team members, empower and train each team member to be able to handle initial requests across several functional areas, from support, to sales, to basic technical issues. While more in-depth questions may ultimately require transferring the customers to other team members, the acts of reducing or eliminating interdepartmental transfers will improve call handling time and reduce customer frustration.
- Solicit and act upon post-interaction customer feedback: Customers should be provided with the opportunity to provide feedback on their interaction, and it should include a method for capturing open-ended feedback or suggestions. Simply using Likert scales will provide scores for customer effort, but true insights that lead to improvement generally require real feedback on the specific actions or elements of the interaction that they found easy or frustrating.
Customer loyalty is not just about provide customers with the “best” products and services; most customers have already determined that they like your offerings, or they would not have made a purchase. Simplifying the process to get answers and support, while removing obstacles that impede efficiency and speed, is the key to improving customer loyalty.
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