Find yourself in a group of customer experience (CX) professionals, and phrases like “delighting the customer” or "creating moments of wow” will pepper the discussions. You will learn that delighting your customers will result in increased loyalty, share of wallet and a positive word of mouth. Few would argue that delivering a great CX provides you a competitive edge, but what return should you expect from delighting the customer?
Customer Expectations and "Moments of Wow”
At the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s conference in Phoenix this year, the Corporate Executive Board presented some interesting insights from The Effortless Experience. The author of the book Matt Dixon cited a study with over 125,000 people who had interacted over the phone with contact-center representatives or through self-service channels such as the web, voice prompts, chat, and e-mail.
Conventional wisdom is that exceeding customer expectations deepens loyalty, however the study detected only a slight increase in loyalty after customer expectations had been met. It turns out that creating delight consistently is difficult and only succeeds in 16% of the interactions with an incremental operating cost between 10 to 20%.
Figure 1 Loyalty vs Customers' Expectations. Courtesy CEB
If customer delight is hard to do and drives up costs, what should I do?
Reduce the customers’ effort. The study revealed a high correlation between customer effort and the probability of customer satisfaction, with low-effort experiences reported a higher probability of repurchase (94%) and an increased spend/share of wallet (88%). Conversely, high-effort customer experiences resulted in a 96% rate of “disloyalty” with 81% negative word of mouth.
How do I create a low-effort experience?
A good starting point is to focus on the key questions your customers are trying to address in their journey, and embrace the following mantra:
- Making it Useful: focus on the customer needs and work backwards from there. What does your research show on the behavioral intent of your customers? Have you purposefully optimized your key touchpoint's for 1st contact resolution? Have you mined your sales people, call center, onsite search logs to uncover things that your customers may need or want? Given the customer context and history can you anticipate their needs and tee it up proactively?
- Making it Quick: your customer is likely on-the-go, on a mobile phone and in a hurry to get back to their busy life. They don’t have time to hunt around for the information or service they need. Remove the obstacles they have to getting things done quickly. Prioritize your digital experience around the behavioral intent of your customer so that they can quickly access the service they need from an “onsite" or Google search. Better yet, anticipate their needs, guide them what to do or take care of it on their behalf once you have their approval. Don’t keep your customer waiting for a computer to respond. Ultimately technology should feel invisible to your customer.
- Making it Enjoyable: While a lot of work happens behind the screens to power the digital experience, your Creative and UX effort is what brings the experience to life and plays a huge role in shaping your brand perception. A dated, cluttered and difficult to use experience says a lot about a companies’ commitment to their customers and staying ahead of technological changes. Furthermore if screen design, interaction patterns and flow are not considered, it will increase customer effort and frustration.
Finally, remember that we live in an era of perpetual transformation with customer expectations constantly changing. What customers once viewed as an acceptable experience, soon feels like a cumbersome high-effort experience based on other digital experiences they get exposed to. As companies currently retool to provide their customers more relevant, contextual and personalized digital experiences, a new wave of emerging technologies are looming. Voice, machine learning, artificial intelligence and personal assistants are all destined to play a role in further reducing the customer effort further. So, should you still try to delight your customer? Yes, you should always strive for that, but the research points to a greater return by first addressing customer effort. In fact, in many instances, reducing customer effort introduces delight into the service interaction.
Dixon, Matthew; Toman, Nick; DeLisi, Rick (2013-09-12). The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty