“To really win their loyalty, forget the bells and whistles and just solve their problems.”
That’s what Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and
Nicholas Toman found when, in 2010, they introduced the Customer Effort Score (CES) to help explain why customer’s would still leave even after companies had worked hard to ‘delight’ them with rewards and special perks.
To examine the links between customer service and loyalty, the Customer Contact Council, a division of the Corporate Executive Board, conducted a study of more than 75,000 people.
Two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy.
First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort — the work they must do to get their problem solved — does.
Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.
You can find more information in their Harvard Business Review article, Stop Delighting the Customer (YMMV, some links are public and others private).
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO USER EXPERIENCE, DESIGN, CODE AND MARKETING?
Make UX frictionless.
In UX design and strategy, creating a frictionless experience has been a long standing principle. Steve Krug’s lauded book “Don’t Make Me Think” really brought it to the forefront of the conversation for web designers, usability experts and a budding user experience professional community. Now this study appears to have applied it more broadly to the general customer experience and found that what is true for website design is also true in the Real World™ where executives measure things.
UX pros don’t get off that easy though. We’re just as guilty as any group when it comes to doing something different because we can. “Different does not equal Better”, say it with me…
Different does not equal better.
Designers might be the biggest provacateurs of delightful but difficult experiences. They want to be different so badly, to stand out from the crowd and to get recognized for their creative brilliance — that they forget about the person on the other side.
If you keep in mind the end goal of the customer and whether you are helping them to achieve that goal — you’re on the right track. Sometimes that goal includes taking a delightfully cute trip down an interactive adventure of discovery. On the other hand, not all experiences should be engaging. Sometimes what people want is to get in and out with the least amount of thought provocation possible. Sometimes we have more important things to do than to try and figure out a new way to navigate a website.
If you have to get visitors to a destination on time and tell a story along the way, find a balance. It’s more work but your audience will thank you for it.
New features often equals new bugs.
In Code it’s a little less clear how this might apply but really, it just comes down to the idea that you should fix the stuff that’s broken before you add more features. So go look at that backlog of bugs and get to work, because your users are much more interested in using the features they know about than in learning how to use all the new features you want to write code for.
For coders who want people to use the code they’ve written, it’s a nice wake up call (like you haven’t had enough of those). It tells you that customers really do care about usability and ease of use. They really don’t care as much about the list of features as they do about some of those features making their lives easier. Usability and good UX design are how you make your features work for the customer.
The Customer did not tell you to add features.
Marketing folks listen up. Everything about UX, Design and Code applies double for you. We know you’ll just say it’s the customer who asked for it, not you — and this research is the proof we need to set you straight. It’s not more features, it’s the right set of features and the right amount of customer support and the right frequency of improvement (yes, Google I’m talking to you — stop breaking Chrome).
If you want customer loyalty, repeat visitors, higher total lifetime value, then you have to do this. Focus on making things easier.
What can we do about this?
It’s really quite easy. Find all the pain-points in all the customer touch-points and fix them. Then put in automated testing to ensure they stay fixed.
It requires collaboration across multiple areas of expertise but it’s not rocket science and it’s not brain surgery, it’s not even big-data analytics. It’s pretty much just making a list and checking it twice.
It’s about time we all made a go at it and stop messing around flaunting our egos.