For the sixteen years I’ve been working in and around the Customer Service business, I’d always bought into the notion that to delight customers was to win their loyalty. Year after year, conference after conference, company outing after company outing-some variation of the ‘we have to delight our customers to win their hearts and minds’ was repeated.

There wasn’t a contact center or rental car lobby I’d enter that didn’t have some poster with a metamorphic image proclaiming what it means to ‘strive for excellence’ in customer service or ‘go beyond’ to do our very best for customers. It wasn’t uncommon for these slogans to appear in lunchrooms, mission statements, even employee badges. Turns out, what we think about delighting customers and what customers really want are two very different things.

I take inspiration for that statement in the research that the Corporate Executive Board has done on ‘Customer Effort Score’.  If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to, because it puts forth a thesis that suggests that in order to win loyalty and increased customer spend, we should think about Delighting Customers in context of three things:

  1. Making their interactions with us easy.
  2. Making their interactions with us quick.
  3. And finally making their interactions with us simple.

Get this ‘trifecta’ right and customers will perceive us as having ‘lowered their effort’ which is what today’s time crunched, hyper brand stimulated and socially connected consumer is looking for.

So how do we lower customer effort?  It starts with understanding our customer journey and mapping all of the customer touch-points we offer against that. Doing this exercise can and will reveal gaps in service consistency, and it will force us to walk in our customer’s shoes. Look at how customers engage us from which channel, how those channels interact with and support each other, how they work towards providing an integrated service experience that can take into context where customers have been on their journey with you, and how and where your employees are on that journey with your customer.

Disconnected customer touchpoints aren’t the only source of high customer effort. Quite often the ‘root cause’ of repeated service interactions is a consequence of how work is distributed in the organization, or how the lack of a ‘closed service loop’ creates repeat customer interactions. Get to the source of how, where and to whom work is distributed (and understand how service levels are agreed to for when that work is completed or ‘cleared’), and you can begin to align the company, and not just a single department, in delivering world-class customer service.

In our webinar tomorrow on Ending The Multichannel Frustration, Forrester’s Kate Leggett and I will bring insights into delivering exceptional multichannel customer service.  I hop you’ll join us! Register here.