Nobody likes a try-hard. For years we’ve been told to delight customers. Go above and beyond, exceed expectations, surprise them and you’ll have a customer for life. But all this delighting isn’t bringing brands to the Promised Land. Think about it – are you getting the most financial return possible trying to delight your customers? Are your customers more loyal because of it? And are they spending more with you? To build true loyalty, you need to focus on making it easy. So just how easy is it to make it easy?
Let’s rewind to 2010 when Harvard Business Review's article ‘Stop trying to delight your customers’ told companies in no uncertain terms that to really win customer’s loyalty, you need to forget the bells and whistles and just solve their problems. Using hard facts from the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB’s) survey of 75,000 customers, the article showed that exceeding customer expectations in customer service yields little benefit to customer loyalty. Rather, by focusing on delivering low effort interactions, companies can reduce customer service costs as well as churn rates.
The premise is simple. Think about your own experiences as a customer signing up to a utilities company or ordering groceries online. Chances are you’re provided with multiple payment plans, delivery options and channels through which to contact the company. But no matter which option you choose, it’s rarely as simple as it should be. Perhaps you have to provide more information than is realistically required, or there are hidden steps behind seemingly simple actions. How often does it go without a glitch? And how much physical & emotional effort do you then have to expend to fix the situation? Today a frictionless experience is a rare treat. And it’s this – not the red carpet treatment – that your customers will return again and again for.
But four years on from HBR’s industry-rocking article and companies still aren’t investing in creating effortless experiences; recent research by Salmat revealed only 12 per cent of organisations are looking at implementing a customer effort score (CES). So why is it taking companies so long to wake up to this idea?
In part, it comes down to a lack of understanding. Many decision makers have simply not seen the facts related to the value of a frictionless experience and cannot start making changes without the numbers to back them up. And, as with many big ideas, it also comes down to fear. If the C-level executives have seen the facts, they are simply not brave enough to make the move.
What we’re talking about here is customer experience – that is, any customer interaction with your organisation from the moment of discovery to product delivery right through to the product or service ownership. Each of these points has the power to influence a customer’s perception of your brand and determine whether they are likely to become, and continue to be, your customer. The easier things are, the better the experience. Because when it comes down to it, customers don’t want to contact your organisation. Anything you can do to help them spend their precious time in the places they want – i.e. not on the phone to the call centre or tangled up in your website – the longer you can expect them to remain a loyal customer.
So the real question is: how hard is it to be your customer?
It’s those companies taking the time to answer this question and put in place strategies to minimise customer effort that are winning. Our blog series will arm you with the practical answers you need to start the crusade for a low effort experience.
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