Brilliant CX Tool: Harnessing Hassle


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How easy is your company to do business with? Super easy? Crazy hard? Here is a simple, yet powerful tool to find the answer, The Hassle Meter.

Let me suggest how to put it to work.

Inside Perception

1. Hand out copies of The Hassle Meter to your team, (and/or other teams and/or your executives) and ask each person to circle the number they feel your customers* would select to rate your organization on how easy you are to do business with.

2. Next, ask them to jot down the reasons why they selected that number.

3. Discuss your responses and note similarities and differences.

This is a simple way to generate meaningful thought and conversation about the customer experience, which is valuable in its own right. However, don’t stop there.

Outside Reality

4. Visit the customers you referenced in Step 1, above, hand them The Hassle Meter, and ask them to give you a candid score.

5. After they complete this step, ask them for reasons why they scored you as they did, and to please share examples that demonstrate those reasons.

6. After thanking them for their candid input, ask them for suggestions as to how to make things better.


1. Share the findings with the people inside your organization who took part in Step 1, and compare the inside perception with the outside reality (I’d suggest a half-day session). Identify common issues, do some root-cause analysis and brainstorming, and then come up with some specific actions you commit to take to be easier to do business with. This is a great way to make meaningful improvement. But don’t stop there!

2. Revisit each customer you met with earlier, share your findings, and explain the actions you are taking based upon customer feedback. Customers are used to having suppliers seek their input, but NO ONE EVER COMES BACK OR MAKES MEANINGFUL CHANGES based on the input collected!

Taking the time (and maybe the hassle) to return to your customers with your findings will distinguish you from the pack, and you will be seen (and remembered) as the caring, committed customer experience professional you are.

* In Step 1, you can discuss customers overall, or choose your five newest customers, or designated major accounts, whatever you feel would be most valuable.

James Alexander, EdD
James "Alex" Alexander has a doctorate in Human Resource Development, and after a dozen years in corporate life has spent more than two decades helping product companies build brilliant services businesses. Alex researches, publishes, advises, trains, and speaks on transforming good services organizations into high-performance services machines that create loyal customers, drive sales of services and products, and dominate the competition. He has written five research studies, four books, and over 150 articles, and has spoken, consulted, and trained in 25 countries.


  1. This is a good way of doing this. We do this on our Customer Value studies, and it works well.
    Unfortunately, too few people will follow your suggestions. Not our way, they will say

  2. The concept of “Easy versus Hard” might be simple to measure (give customers a scale and ask them to give you a number). But, what have you learned from the results and what would be changed? Is the goal a hassle-free experience, or is it to create a loyal customer? Ask customers what matters most when taking an airline flight and they will put safety right up there at the top of their list. But, if you examine the factors customers use when choosing airline A over airline B, safety will not in their top ten factors. Safety might be a critical table-stake, but it does not drive passenger loyalty. Getting really good tickets to see Taylor Swift might be super challenging, but does that make me enjoy Taylor more or less? Will I leave her concert and swear never to do this again because getting tickets was a big hassle, or will I buy more Taylor Swift albums? Getting a decent reservation at Chez Gourmet might be nearly impossible, but does that impact my assessment of their amazing food and flawless service? So, what would my 1-10 rating tell you if you asked me on the way out? And, what if my experience was physically super easy (like parasailing), but features of the experience left me anxious , how do I answer the 1-10 question? And, again, what have you really learned from my rating that will effectively inform targeted improvements that will impact my loyalty? It is exciting to claim a feature like “Hassle” as the holy grail of customer experience. But shouldn’t we start with the ultimate goal (probably customer loyalty that positively impacts the bottom line and/or organizational reputation) and unpack how customers view “ease vs hard” in their features that really matter.

  3. Unfortunately, ‘ease of doing business’ is just one component, or dimension, of CX; and gathering insights on other key contributory elements – trust level, need anticipation, functional performance, pricing, etc.- is necessary to identify levels of perceived value and future relationship likelihood.

  4. Gautam-
    Thanks for your comments.

    Chip and Michael-
    I was in no way implying that this is the holy grail of CX, but most importantly it is an “easy” way to get the attention of your people inside and get them involved–the qualitative component is the most important. Of course there are multiple factors (I use seven dimensions) and many times better goals than customer loyalty (depending upon the importance of the customer), but you gotta start somewhere.


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