A while ago, our Chatham client delivery center in Ontario, Canada helped a major automotive company change the way it measures customer satisfaction. With CES (Customer Effort Score), we began looking at the “effort” that customers expended to get their issues resolved.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING?
Delighting customers has been the backbone of contact center management for many decades. Companies spend millions on front line training to ensure agents offer a delightful/pleasant interaction. As important as customer service training is, what rarely is measured is the effort that customers had to put in to get their issues solved (e.g., call backs, transfers, voice mails, dealer visits, etc.).
A recent study conducted by the Customer Contact Council, a division of the Corporate Executive Board, of over 75,000 customers found repeating messages in the results:
- Delighting customers does not build loyalty, reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does.
- Acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer experience, reduce service costs and decrease customer churn.
Customer satisfaction then is the result of an effortless resolution to their concerns. What happens along the way only adds/subtracts from the end result.
A NEW MODEL FOR CUSTOMER CARE?
The business model that we at Aditya Birla Minacs followed with this client focused around effort and the many ways we can reduce the amount of effort a customer was investing to get resolutions to issues. Based on our study, some of the small steps we took included:
- Change IVR strategies for more streamlined routing and quicker access to specially trained agents for certain kinds of issues
- Eliminate/realign queues that only focused on minimal aspects of customer resolution
- Create brand specific teams and combining multiple tiers to create a one-stop shop to drive the reduction of customer effort. This allowed us to better prepare our agents to handle a multitude of issues and resolve customers questions and concerns with ease.
INCREASE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: ADOPT A QUALITY MINDSET
The same study mentioned above surveyed over 75,000 customers to uncover typical loyalty-eroding issues that occur when contacting a customer service center. Of the customers studied:
- 56% reported having to re-explain an issue
- 57% reported having to switch from the web to the phone
- 59% reported expending moderate-to-high effort to resolve an issue
- 59% reported being transferred
- 62% reported having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue
We addressed the quality mindset in our programs for this client and focused ourselves to reducing effort. Simply put, this mindset required us to ask: How can we make life easier for our customers?
The answer, again simply: We increased our agent’s role by empowering them to solve the customer’s request. By pleasing our customersand reducing their efforts, we improved overall customer experience and loyalty to our client/client’s brand.
CUSTOMER EFFORT SCORE: TAKING ON FCR AND AHT?
Aside from technical/program changes, agents need a change of focus also. They must buy into the “effort reducing” philosophy. They must:
- Head off the need for follow up calls
- Address the emotional side of the interaction
- Minimize the need for customers to switch service channels
- Listen to and learn from disgruntled customers
- Focus on problem solving, not speed
Like FCR (First Call Resolution), reducing effort hinges on providing your agents the necessary tools to not only hear and solve the problem but to head off future and potentially dissatisfying situations that may occur with other customers.
High effort calls are not one offs and usually show a repeating behavior. Agents may not notice the commonalities on the calls as they only see what they handle. Verbatim, customer letters and holistic call reviews will highlight the effort being undertaken by your customer. Effort reducing initiatives need to be highlighted in team meetings and sharing of information is the key to success.
Our Chatham team will be measuring this metric shortly in partnership with a third party vendor in the coming months. Our goal is to correlate the satisfaction index with the new effort score to scope out commonalities and overall increase in customer loyalty. Stay tuned for more on our CES results and the business results for our client.
What’s your take on customer effort scores? Is customer effort a better measure than customer satisfaction? How do you manage the intrinsic clash between AHT and FCR goals with the demands of CES?