How often do you revisit a company because of its over-the-top service? Be candid, not often. (Examples – hotels, restaurants.)

How often do you cut a company loose because of terrible service? Often. (Examples – an airline, an IT company, a cell phone company, a dry cleaner.)

The notion that one “must delight” clients or customers to gain their loyalty, is so entrenched, that it is seldom questioned.


What is “loyalty”?

This concept can be defined as a client’s intention to continue doing business with you, and increase their spending with you or say good things about you.

The Customer Contact Council of the Corporate Executive Board conducted a study in North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, of more than 75 000 people who have interacted with contact or call centres, or through self-service channels such as websites, voice prompts, chats and emails.

They believe their findings are relevant to face-to-face contact as well.

Three Questions

The CCC asked three questions:
1. How important is client service to creating and maintaining loyalty?
2. Which client services increase loyalty and which do not?
3. Can companies increase loyalty without raising their client service operating costs?

Three Findings

They reported three findings:
1. Clients want a solid, dependable, consistent service.
2. Delighting clients doesn’t build loyalty.
3. Reducing their effort – the work clients must do to get their problem solved – does.

Acting deliberately on this insight can help you to improve client service, reduce client service costs; and decrease client turnover.

What do Clients Resent?

56% report having to re-explain an issue
57% report having to switch from the web to a phone
59% report expending moderate-to-high effort to resolve an issue
59% report being transferred
62% report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue

Create Loyal Clients

How? Make it easy!

•    Remove obstacles
•    Make it a pleasant and solid experience
•    Be Easy To Do Business With (BETDBW)

“Create a Great Client Experience” as a concept is vague. Be specific. What must you and your staff actually do? On what issues concerning customer care need training to focus?

Five Tactics

Purposefully adopt these tactics:
1. Don’t just resolve the current issuehead off the next one. 22% of repeat calls concern downstream problems. You know what they are. How often do you have to deal with clients who return to you, as anticipated, with problems? How have you reacted when your IT specialist sold you a PC without immediately addressing issues that would crop up the moment you plug in your new computer in your office? (Your PC and printer not talking to each other.)

2. Coach yourself and your staff to address the emotional side of client interactions. Clients often do not trust your statements if you do not acknowledge their emotional needs.

3. Minimize channel switching by improving self-service channels such as providing a question and answer page on you website. (Do not oblige your clients to call you about matters that could easily be addressed with information on your website.)

4. Learn from feedback by disgruntled or struggling clients and actively and systematically reduce client effort.

5. Train and empower you front line to solve problems and deliver a friendly, competent service ensuring a low-effort client experience.

What should you measure?

The #1 cause for undue effort is the need to call back or revisit as an issue was not resolved on 1st contact.

Three Measures

There are three measures and CES is best:
•    First Contact Resolution (FCR) metrics fail as you would not know the reasons for the non-obvious such as downstream issues or an emotional disconnect.

•    Client Satisfaction Questionnaires on their own are weak indicators of future client performance.

•    The Client Effort Score (CES) is best. Its predictive power is strong. Of clients who reported a low effort, 94% expressed an intention to repurchase, and 88% said they would increase their spending. Only 1% would speak negatively. Conversely 81% of clients who had a hard time or had to expend high effort in getting their problems solved reported an intention to spread negative word of mouth.

The CES Question

What is the Client Effort Score Question?
“How much effort did you personally had to make to get your request handled and solved?”

How often have you tried to buy a product or a service and had to pursue the seller or service provider to obtain a product or service? While you may have experienced frustration, are you making it easy for your clients or customers?

Your Future Strategy

•    Ensure a sharp focus on self-service in finding answers e.g. via Q&A on your website.

•    Put reducing client effort firmly in the centre of your approach to client management in every sphere of contact.

In brief, provide a solid service and ensure the client or customer experiences no hassles.

Simply be easy to do business with.

PS. Acknowledgement: This post is based on an article Stop Trying to Delight Your Customer by Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman and Nicholas Toman which appeared in the Harvard Business Review of July-August 2010.