Reducing the Customer Effort

You’ve probably heard it before many times, that you should ‘delight’ your customers. It is of course well known that keeping existing customers, reducing customer churn, is a better practical business model than a mission of winning new business.

 

Reducing Customer Effort

Is Customer Effort the new metric for Customer Satisfaction?

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, it is 4 - 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer, than maintain existing ones. It is also cheaper to market to existing customers where it is believed to cost between 5 – 8 times more to attract new customers.

Clearly, customer service and the customer journey are highly important. But how do you know that you are doing a good job? How do you know that after interacting with your business your customers are satisfied?

Of course, there are measures and means of obtaining information regarding satisfaction – customer surveys are a good one for instance, however you tend to get fairly polarised opinions as customers need to be sufficiently motivated to comment – positively or negatively. Answers can be skewed and the focus is on the most negative remarks, perhaps missing the bigger picture.

What tends to happen is you fixate on individual problems and delighting customers, which means you develop lots of soft skills for your agents and tell them to smile on the call as you can hear it in the voice. These are all nice to haves.

Our recent Convergence Summit event brought together industry leading speakers from global vendors, and almost all of them spoke of the importance of understanding the customer. In particular, Avaya’s Mark Schmidt, who discussed how the customer journey and the metrics we use to measure that need to shift in this new customer centric world.

It makes sense if you think about it. If your customers’ queries and concerns are being resolved quickly and efficiently what complaints can they have? Surely that is excellent service?

So how do you measure the effectiveness of your Contact Centre? How can you really gauge the satisfaction of your customers? And how do you know where to make improvements?

 

Was it easier or harder to get what you wanted than you expected it to be? That is the question.

Sometimes it is as simple as asking the right questions. This question then allows you to gauge, across a multitude of customer service and support functions, where your customers are struggling.

There was a recent study conducted by Corporate Executive Board’s Customer Contact Council that revealed many common investments to improve service and support are not necessarily reaping the rewards. This is because we overstate the impact that exceeding our customers’ service expectations has on their loyalty.

Start focusing on understanding where they are struggling to get what they need and you won’t go far wrong. Listen to their struggles, and make the necessary changes.

This works in your favour for new customers too. Improving the journey your existing customers take and delivering against those needs and requirements means that it makes it even easier for new customers.

By reducing the effort needed to become a customer, you are shortening the sales cycle. What you are also doing is instilling trust in your new customers, demonstrating that you understand their needs, a powerful relationship builder, driving higher customer retention!

With it being so simple to move to the next link on Google make sure you make it easy across all channels to communicate with you and support the ability to move between channels without having to start the journey, or conversation, all over again.

But there are things you can do to help speed up this process. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about what you would need, and how to go about getting it.

 

Key Considerations for reducing Customer Effort:

  1. Anticipate their problems and put provisions in place to support them
    Think about what goods/services you offer and the challenges/efforts your customers need to go through to get up and running, and put services in place.

 

  1. Implement the necessary Management Information Systems
    The sooner you start collecting and using the data your customers generate on a daily basis in interacting with you, the better. It can be a challenge at first to get things up and running but the benefits of using the data are immense.

 

  1. Maximising Technology
    Think about the possibilities of your existing technology and how they can be used. For instance, I imagine most of you have some form of call recording, how many of you regularly evaluate your agents and trawl through the recordings to develop your Contact Centre?

 

  1. Self-Service Portal
    A simple to use self-service portal could be one of your most valuable assets. But it does need to be intuitive and genuinely useful.

 

  1. Empower your Agents
    Think about technologies like CTI, to help deliver caller information ahead of picking up the phone. Integrating databases and phone systems is a great way to reduce customer effort, improve first call resolution and the impression of your organisation. Giving your agents what they need to help your customers is highly important.

 

  1. Encourage Collaboration
    “Let me just transfer you to someone who can help…” – those dreaded words that can often start the journey of being passed from pillar to post. You know it is annoying, so you want to make sure your customers don’t embark on that merry-go-round. Put tools in place to allow your staff to simply bring people in to the call, or access the information they need quickly.

 

Jonathan Sharp

Jonathan Sharp is a communications visionary and established technology business leader with 20 years’ proven excellence in driving business innovation and transformation. Sales & Marketing Director at Britannic Technologies, he puts enthusiasm into technology adoption, helping businesses to connect with their customers and staff in the most efficient and intuitive ways.

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