Charming your customers isn’t enough when it comes to building sustainable, lifelong loyalty. If it takes a lot of effort to interact with your brand, or they feel like their basic needs aren’t being met, customers can become frustrated and leave your brand for another option. In fact, according to research published in the book The Effortless Experience, “96% of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.”
While Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is one of many measurements you should be watching for, another big metric is linked to customer satisfaction — or Customer Effort Score.
What Is Customer Effort Score?
Customer effort scores (CES) measure how much effort is required for a customer to complete a specific interaction or transaction within a business. Customer effort score measures the ease at which a customer can make a purchase, transaction, or interaction.
A higher CES means it takes less effort for your customers to engage with your business, which is what you’re looking for. If you have a low CES, meaning it takes more effort for customers to interact with your various channels and content, then you’re going to lose customers, and your business, over time.
In our customer expectations report, we showed that 80% of customers said their buying experiences take too much effort, which means if you’re going to get ahead of the competition, improving your customer effort score is well worth the investment.
How Customer Effort Scores (CES) Impact CSAT
CES is a key piece of the CSAT puzzle. Beyond rating a customer service agent, CES reflects on the entire process of customers seeking an answer and agents resolving their issues. If it’s easy for the customer to get what they need, the likelihood of them returning is much higher. A Gartner study found that a customer with a low-effort experience is 94% more likely to buy again from a brand.
By reducing your customers’ exertion, you can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.
9 Ways to Improve Customer Effort Scores
Within your processes, it’s essential to identify points of high customer effort and then find solutions that add ease to your customers’ experiences. There are several methods to reduce friction and improve customer effort scores — here are the top ways.
Reduce repeat contacts
When customers can’t resolve their issue the first time they contact you, they must take the time and effort to reach out again. Not only is this frustrating, but it may cause them to leave your brand altogether.
Many repeat interactions are downstream issues related to the original reach-out. If your AI algorithms and agents are looking one step ahead, you’ll reduce the number of times customers need to make contact. With this approach, you reduce repeated interactions — saving you money and the customer time and effort.
Shorten wait times
It may come as no surprise that customers want their issues resolved immediately. Keep wait times low by offering an email or online chat option, honing your workflow process, and shifting staff during peak times. The less time a customer has to wait, the less effort the interaction is for them. It allows the customer to resolve an issue quickly without frustration.
Eliminate the customer’s need to repeat info
If your AI or agent can’t handle a customer’s issue, be sure any relevant information is forwarded to the next agent. A customer doesn’t want to explain their issue several times. In the same vein, find the customer’s info for them. Make it easy for them to verify their identity, and be sure to have their order history on hand.
When a customer’s information and history with your company is easily accessible, it can save valuable time. If a customer is trying to track an order and the agent is able to see that they only have one order in the last 30 days, it isn’t necessary to ask them for their order number; the agent can provide the customer with faster and more efficient tracking information.
Reduce transfers to several agents
The fewer hand-offs a customer experiences, the happier they are because less effort is involved. Route your customers to the right people. Offer a dropdown menu on your online chat or have AI route customers to the most appropriate agent. This way, when hand-offs happen, they are seamless.
Make customer service accessible from any device
Provide multiple support channels and mobile options so that no matter where your customer is, it’s easy for them to contact you.
You also want to be able to resolve the customer’s problem without transferring to another channel. For example, if a customer reaches out via chat, they shouldn’t have to later make a phone call to get their question answered.
Eliminate pain points in the customer journey
Review your processes and data to target customer experience pain points. Does it take them several minutes to find the packing label for a return? Is it a hassle to change jeans sizes once they’re already in their cart for checkout?
From end to end, make sure your customer experience is smooth and without hiccups. Customers will feel at ease when you’re proactive and removing barriers and delays.
Ask your team for feedback
Are there recurring problems or complaints your customer service agents are noticing? Do they have suggestions on how to reduce the effort for customers? Pull together a quarterly workgroup to pick their brains and pinpoint solutions to common problems.
Gather customer feedback and share it
Rather than guess what’s requiring too much effort from your customers, ask them. Request that they fill out a simple survey after talking with an agent.
Customer feedback should not only be reviewed and solutions implemented, but your agents should also get the information. When your agents feel engaged and informed, they’re more likely to act positively to make a difference for customers.
Provide additional training for your agents
Continual training helps agents stay on top of what’s happening, including new processes and ideas for making a customer’s experience effortless.
For example, by training your agents to think ahead and anticipate what might happen next, you can help reduce repeated contact. Additionally, the more an agent understands your services and products, the more they can help your customers. And the more they’re in tune with customer emotions, the more empathy your customers will receive. All of this has the power to create an improved customer experience and drive higher satisfaction.
Match customers with the best customer service hero
Wrap Up: Improving CES for Happier Customers and Better CX
Reducing customer effort also comes with the bonus of reducing your costs. The Gartner study found that a low-effort experience costs a company 37% less than a high-effort experience. By providing a place of low customer effort, you’ll not only make customers more loyal, but you’ll also save your bottom line.
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