Four Pillars of Low-Effort Customer Experience


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As a customer, we’ve all experienced customer service calls that feel impossibly difficult. Maybe you couldn’t find a way to contact the company. Maybe they made you jump through hoops to get what you needed. High effort experiences are these interactions that make you work really hard to get answers. And they are one of the fastest ways a company can lose customers.

The CEB broke down the important parts of designing a low effort experience into four pillars:

Minimizing channel switching
Next Issue Avoidance
Experience Engineering
Frontline Control

In this article, we break down the four pillars so that any company – even those not measuring customer effort score – can build a better low-effort customer experience:

Pass Channel Switching

Most customer support teams think of channel switching as passing customers back and forth between contact methods. The classic example is of a customer writing in via email when the answer is they must call a different department. The customer has to repeat themselves to each new agent they talk to. It’s a frustrating experience that most of us can relate to as customers ourselves.

Most customer support teams will think they are already doing a great job minimizing channel switching for customers contacting them. But channel switching is more common than you think.

Channel switching dramatically impacts customer loyalty

Matt Dixon explains in Effortless Experience that “customers who attempt to self-serve but are forced to pick up the phone are 10 percent more disloyal than customers who were able to resolve their issue in their channel of first choice”.

Not only are those customers who are forced to pick up the phone more expensive to help, they’re less loyal too! It’s a lose-lose situation.

Do something with next issue avoidance

Agents don’t just resolve the question the customer asked. They think ahead to make sure that the customer won’t encounter another issue as soon as they get off the phone. It’s like playing a game of chess, and always thinking two steps ahead. “What can I do to make sure this customer doesn’t need to call back?

Next issue avoidance is so important because customers don’t know what they’ll encounter next.

Experience Engineering

If a customer wants to order a dress that just isn’t in stock right now, there’s no way to “just say yes”. Lying will only make the situation worse.

In that case, skilled agents turn to experience engineering to soften the blow of being told no.

The Effortless Experience team defines experience engineering as “managing a conversation using carefully selected language to improve how the customer interprets what they’re being told.” It uses three skills to improve how the customer feels about the experience – even though the outcome is the same.

The Control Quotient

The fourth pillar has everything to do with control – how agents get it, and how organizations boost it.

Agents with a high CQ are:

Able to handle high-pressure situations without becoming burned out
Takes responsibility for own actions
Responds well to constructive criticism by managers
Able to concentrate on tasks over extended periods of time

Why is the control quotient so important?

As Dixon accurately points out, “[agents] must be able to engage— fully— in often challenging personal situations with people who may be having an emotional reaction to a problem or issue.” But they don’t have to be able to handle a tough situation once. They need to bounce from stressful call to stressful call – and never let it affect their ability. It’s a job requirement shared by other professionals in highly stressful, emotional situations. Unsurprisingly, nurses and paramedics also have high CQs.

Using the Four Pillars
Identifying your team’s weakest pillars can have an immediate impact on your low-effort customer experience.

A well-rounded customer experience relies on all four pillars being solid. If even one of the pillars doesn’t hold up, it can affect customer experience.

How do your four pillars measure up?

Jakub Slámka
Marketer and communicator with passion for digital marketing, graphic design and great storytelling. Always focused on delighting customers through every step of their journey.


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