Great Customer Experiences Are Effortless is happy to share with you our fourth interview with Matt Watkinson author of Amazon bestseller and CMI’s Management Book of the Year 2013 -The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences. Matt has joined us for 10 weeks in which we will explore each one of this ten principles and add on exclusive insights.

This week, will uncover Matt Watkinson’s fifth principle behind great CX — reducing effort. In this article you will learn of the importance of creating effortless customer experiences, backed up with real-time examples and guidance how to reduce effort.

The Onerous Customer Experience

Many brands spend a lot of their time, effort and resources ensuring that their customers receive delightful and over-the-top service. However, research has found that interactions that put onus on the customer, soaking up their time and energy can quickly jeopardise the customer satisfaction and loyalty with a brand. A recent McKinsey customer experience survey of 27,000 US consumers across 44 industries found that companies that focus on providing a superior and low effort experience across their customer journeys — such as customer onboarding, account changes and problem resolution — realized positive business results, including a 10–15% increase in revenue growth and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction. Additionally, research by Matthew Dixon, co-author of The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty, has shown that exceeding expectations during service interactions makes customers only marginally more loyal than simply reducing effort. In other words, in order to achieve customer loyalty businesses should reduce the amount of effort a customer must make when interacting with a brand.

The three parameters to reduce effort

In his book, Matt Watkinson argues that in order to reduce effort, businesses need to consider three parameters: time on task, convenience, and simplicity.

By reducing the amount of time a customer has to spend on a task, businesses will also reduce the effort involved. For example, when setting up a new account with the bank First Direct, their “EasySwitch” team will take care of the tiresome admin for customers, moving over direct debits and standing orders and setting up the text message banking for them.

Great products and services also fit seamlessly into the customer’s life, where convenience is king. Matt Watkinson gives an example with Vodafone’s Red Box. A major frustration with setting up a new phone is copying over contacts. In order to reduce effort, Vodafone now offer an in-store service that help customers to quickly synchronise their contacts to their new phone.

Simplicity is the third parameter by which companies can reduce effort. The more straightforward a product or service is to use, the less physical and mental effort is required of the customer. For example, Amazon’s one-click shopping system allows customer to buy a product using just one click of the mouse. They have applied this approach to their e-book reader, the Kindle. Their website boasts the fact that customers can be reading a book, within 60 seconds of ordering it, and that the battery can last for up to a month — a great example of reducing wait times, channel convenience, and eliminating repetition in action.

The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty has also written on the importance of creating effortless customer experiences, featuring CEB’s bestselling book — The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty. According to the book, businesses can identify obstacles their customers have to endure by understanding the customer journey they offer. The customer journey mapping can provide great value in helping businesses understand what effort customers have to put in at each touch point and reduce it.

Next, the authors also introduce the Customer Effort Score (CES), a new metric that companies can use to measure the effects of reducing effort. Customer service organisations can use CES, along with operational measurements of such things as repeat calls, transfers, and channel switching, to conduct an “effort audit” and improve areas where customers are expending undue energy. Based on this metric, companies can know if the customer effort was low or high and thus detect potential issues with loyalty.

You can read more about the Customer Effort Score here.


Matt Watkinson’s fifth principle behind great customer experiences emphasized the need to reduce effort. Multiple research has identified that low effort customer experiences across the customer journeys — such as customer onboarding, account changes and problem resolution — realize positive business results. In order to measure the effectiveness of reducing effort for customers, companies can use the Customer Effort Score to understand which areas need are expending undue energy.

We hope you have enjoyed our article and look forward to Matt Watkinson’s Principle 6: Great Customer Experiences are stress free.

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