Four Actions to Take on Customer Effort Feedback

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I originally wrote today’s post for GetFeedback. It appeared on their site on February 26, 2020.

One of the biggest mistakes companies can – and do – make with customer feedback is to do nothing at all with it. Remember the old Gartner statistic: 95% of companies collect customer feedback. Yet only 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard.

It’s from a few years ago but still fairly representative. I’ve seen the 10% as high as 34% in some more-recent studies. Perhaps the 5% has bumped up a bit, as well, but tell me the last time you heard from a company after providing feedback. It’s pretty rare. What did they do with your feedback?

I’d like to help you to not become a statistic. To do so, I’ll focus on a specific metric that is used to help create a better experience for all involved: customer effort score (CES).

A good place to start is to tell you a bit about effort: what is it and what does it look like?

Effort is strenuous physical or mental exertion on the part of employees and customers, and more importantly, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions about that exertion. In The Effortless Experience, Matt Dixon notes that emotions and perceptions make up two-thirds of the effort equation. As we know from the definition of customer experience, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions drive a lot of what customers think of – and whether or not they will continue to do business with – the brand.

Notice that I’ve included both employees and customers in the definition. I’m a strong believer in the fact that if we reduce employee effort, we will also reduce customer effort and improve the experience for both of them.

Capturing feedback from customers about how easy or difficult it was to interact or to transact with a brand is a critical part of understanding the experience. It’s important to hear from them about where the experience is breaking down, and oftentimes undue effort is the culprit for the breakdown.

Salesforce reported in their State of Connected Customer report that 74% of customers would switch brands if the purchase experience was too difficult. If you can’t even close the sale, then the rest of it doesn’t really matter, does it?

Some examples of things that create effort for customers (and for employees) include: number of call transfers, number of calls/contacts to resolve an issue or to transact, time to resolve, repeating information from one platform or person to another, repetitive steps/tasks, excessive clicks, missing or hard to find information, channel switching, missing or hard to find contact, information, outdated policies, and broken processes.

It’s worth noting that customer effort doesn’t just happen when it comes to contacting customer service; there’s effort and friction in every part of the customer experience, in every transaction or interaction. Think about what happens when customers are researching your product or service, purchasing your product or service, using the product or service, using your website or mobile app, and more. Are any of those high-effort experiences? The best way to learn what creates pain and effort for your customers is to ask them – or to listen to them via some other channel, e.g., social media, online reviews, etc. But once you’ve heard, you’ve got to use that information to improve the experience. The steps I outlined in How To Take Action on CSAT Feedback apply here, as well. In this article, I’m going to call out four major activities that must be undertaken after CES feedback is received by the company, three of which I didn’t address in that article. To learn about the four activities, check out the original post on GetFeedback’s site.

Every single interaction, the most minute details of the interaction you have with the customer, are an opportunity for you to create something remarkable. -Joey Coleman

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