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How easy is it to make things easier for your customers?

26th May 2016
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Kermit the Frog once wistfully bemoaned the fact that it wasn’t easy being green. The same could sometimes be said for being a customer, with BT's “Autonomous Customer” research last year revealing that 62% of us found dealing with customer service issues exhausting.

88% of these autonomous customers also said that they would be more loyal to organisations if they were easy to deal with. For the public sector, where loyalty isn’t a factor, customers are less likely to think that they have got good value for money if they are finding things difficult. This is why customer effort, or lack thereof, has become so hotly debated in the customer experience world.

Net easy

Our lives are busy enough, so we tend to go with the path of least resistance when it comes to getting what we need. The internet has brought about a rise in convenience, meaning that we have been taught to do a lot more ourselves. Self-service (when it is easy) makes us feel more in control. Digital channels like webchat tend to be ranked a much simpler choice than more traditional channels such as the phone. Very few of us leap out of bed in the morning thinking “wow, I’m looking forward to ringing my <INSERT NAME OF SERVICE PROVIDER HERE>!”. We want things to be quick and easy and if it isn’t, we’ll often use a very quick and easy way of telling everybody – namely social media.

Making things easy is sometimes, sadly, easier said than done. Products and services seem to be getting more complex. Regulation is certainly not simple. Internal processes and silos are often a complex tangle of spaghetti that most customer service advisors have to stick a fork into on the customers’ behalf.

So how do we make customer journeys easier? Someone far wiser than I once said that the best way to manage something is to measure it, and this is where our journey starts – with the “net easy” score (other effort scores are available).  This is effectively a net promotor score for effort. It simply asks customers whether they found their experience easy (plus 1), difficult (minus 1) or they don’t know (0).

It isn’t rocket science to discover that customers who are finding experiences difficult are more likely to leave. They are also less likely to recommend (lower Net Promotor Score (NPS)) and less likely to be satisfied (lower Customer Satisfaction (CSAT score).

Operational measure

Other more internal measures affect this – if the problem isn’t dealt with right first time, the net easy score will be lower. In fact, what we have found from experience with easy measurement in a number of organisations (including BT itself, as well as airlines and banks), is that it provides the missing link between external customer measures and internal process measures.

It can also be used as an operational measure.  The contact centre may not see a direct impact on CSATor NPS of a new customer service training programme or a redesign of the IVR, but they can usually see it in the easy score.

Like the majority of good customer experience measures, easy is most effective if it is used as an end-to-end gauge of success. It must also be from the customers’ perspective. Their easy journey may start at the contact centre but if nothing happens as a result, the customer is unlikely to rank the whole experience as an easy one.

It could also be a good measure for employees. Professor Moira Clark of Henley Business School has found that, if employees are finding things easy, it is likely that they can transfer this simplicity into customer experience.

What ease isn’t so good for is industry benchmarking, which isn’t really its point. NPS is probably a better benchmarking score. Easy is more about internal excellence and that will inevitably influence your NPS score in the long run.

As comprehensive as these processes may seem when combined together for internal purposes, the external effect should always be one of simplicity and seamlessness. Easy measurement is, after all, used by organisations to link together customer response with internal analysis; the aim being to get a better understanding of the service they provide and therefore improving it. The organisation makes the effort, so the customer shouldn’t have to.

So whilst Kermit the Frog may have a point about being green, with the right measurement tools in place, it should be easy being a customer.

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