When we evaluate the level of client aggravation Customer effort is seen as one of the main causes of customer disappointment, irritation and disloyalty resulting in negative brand impact.

Customer effort has seen a lot of spotlight since its discussion in the HBR Article, published in Harvard Business Review,” Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers”. The article discussed Customer effort as a Metric of Measuring customer loyalty and compared it to factors such as Net Promoter Score etc.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer relationship management tool measures the loyalty that exists between a Provider and a consumer.


How Having Low Customer Effort Score Helps Your Company

Customers are always on the hunt for short cuts to queries and problems. They are short on time and live busy lives, hence don’t have the time to stay in the customer service cycle for long to get a problem solved, which from their perspective shouldn’t have come up in the first place.

It’s quite simple to understand what a Customer Effort score tells you about satisfaction levels of your customers towards your company and what you should be doing about it. If the score on the metric is high it simply means interacting with the service of your company is not easy and the customer has to give in more than is being offered. The scale varies from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

Customer Service teams should be fully trained to give the customer an easy and effortless experience, rather than having to call back again and again, and convey the problem through different channels. Companies must focus on creating a smooth operating model so customers can enjoy services effortlessly and bring the customer effort scores down to non-existing.

Measuring and Calculating Customer Effort Score

As seen in the white paper by Enkata, Repeat calls and Restarts: “a sure way to Lower customer effort score”, we can see how they explained some of the factors discussed to gauge customer effort score.

“Personal” contacts per customer/ month (calls/chat)

This highlights the number of times the customers contact a company representative a month to have their queries answered. This measure’s for you how easy and hassle free the product or service is for a customer to use before accessing the customer service team.

Average “personal” contact time per month/customer (call, chat)

This highlights the amount of time each customer has spent trying to interact with a service operator to get a problem solved, over the course of a month. This measure’s how fast your customer service team is at resolving questions and issues once a customer calls/chat.

Number of Self-service contacts per month

This highlights how often the customers chose self-service as a medium to solve their problems, such as the web, mobile, IVR etc. This measure’s the effectiveness of a company’s self-service strategy in solving customer needs.

Self- Service and Customer Effort

There are multiple arguments on the concept of self- service and its advantages and disadvantages.  Companies and analyst argue over the demand of self-service and how it can enhance customer service rather than making it a hurdle. Well the concept is very simple, if the customer has to put in extra effort in order to use the service, then there is definitely no need to have this channel, as it only increases customer effort score and discourages the customer, leaving him or her frustrated with it.

On the other hand if the self-service channel is well developed and easy to use, customers will chose to use it, since it will save them time and put them in control with how they chose to make the interaction. If a website is well designed and has an efficient interface than the customer will chose to sit at home and get the work done rather than running to offices and centers to get a problem solved. The less effort a customer has to put in the more satisfied he or she will be with the service.

Customers who can sit home and do their online booking or print boarding passes or tickets, feel at more ease and in control, then those who have to stand in long lines at the airport to get the same job done.

Repeat Calls – Must Be Avoided and How

Companies usually praise their customer service for being quick with resolving issues and giving customers the tips and solutions to their queries, but what would be even better is to not have them in that spot in the first place.

We advise that you shouldn’t have your customer make the contact in the first place and not have to worry about deriving satisfaction from a solved problem, rather being pleased with not having to deal with one.

It surely will leave your customer satisfied if your customer service team instantly provides solutions and shortcuts, making the customer feel valued and catered to, but the ease of not switching between channels or shuffling through maze like menus to get to a solution provider definitely generates more loyalty.

Customers who have to repeat contacts with the company always take longer times to get their issue solved and hence have lower levels of customer satisfaction.

We recommend you do an in-depth analysis of why the repeat calls exist in the first place and how these problems can be eliminated or at least diminished.  Many times the upper management is given responsibility for poor coaching to front line staff or lack of decision making authority which leads to unsolved customer problems and especially repeat calls.

The reasons however mostly are beyond just the lack of experience staff and more to do with loopholes in the product or service or in the upper management strategies.

  • The management either isn’t training the staff properly on how to handle specific problems and lack of coaching is resulting in repeat calls, where service reps keep switching the customers
  • Your management may not know but inexperienced staff might be handling your customers and their intricate problems.

Not only are the customers suffering with lack of strategic planning to avoid repeat calls, visits and transfers, the companies are suffering just as much, with costs of handling and managing customer service  department and also having to lose other customers because their issues are not solved.

The amount of wage paid to all the extra customer service reps that are hired to cater to all repeat and transfer calls can also be avoided. Hence the company must keep in focus why the repeat calls are being generated and evaluate the data analytics to see which problems are generating repeat contacts and what loopholes are leading to call transfers from one channel to another.

Ensuring FCR Efficiency During Multiple Touch Points

A strategy which will accomplish the goal of reducing customer effort will only be efficient if the representatives handling the calls are well trained and strategic thinkers who are able to reach to a conclusive solution for a customer in the first contact.

First contact resolution (FCR) is extremely necessary if the management wants to lower the customer effort score and generate customer loyalty.  FCR ensures that the needs of the customer are tackled the first the call is received, eliminating the requirement of the customer calling back again and again to get the issue resolved.

FCR reflects the efficiency of the customer care agents, which also generates the performance metric Talk time, which is the average time an agent spends on each call. It is desirable that the agent spends minimum time on the call, but only if the customer is fully satisfied.

Not only do follow up calls show lack of call expertise in the call center agents but also reflects the level of customer dissatisfaction that exists. This builds up to the company having high volumes of calls coming in which need to be catered to and the demand for agents rises also increasing the costs incurred on the company. We recommend that the agents are well coached on the different problems that are arising, by studying the data and finding out the nature of calls that generate repeat calls. Managers should have agents spend time on calls and always send a customer with a complete solution so first call resolution rate increases.