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Katerina Vinokhodova
UseDesk Co-Owner
I often say it myself and see it in articles of others: "If you have a good customer service, the customer will come back for a purchase and will recommend you to friends." Actually, not everything is clear with this thesis. What is covered by the concept of a service? Polite communications? Twenty-four-hour phone support? Bots in Telegram? Bonuses and discounts? All of these? Or just some of these? And what is "good"? We know the thesis but its practical application is covered with a fog.

Experts from the Corporate Executive Board Co. interviewed 97,000 customers and 400 companies to find out what aspects of the service really affect the customer's decision to stay with the company. As a result, the book "The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty" was written - step-by-step guide for companies on how to organize support to win loyal customers. The main idea of the book is that the key component to customer loyalty is not the wow-support. Investing in building a service to meet customers' expectations is like fueling a fireplace with money.

Loyalty will not increase exponentially, as expected, but only by 2-3 percent. In fact, customers do not need to be surprised by you. They just want their problems be resolved with no effort from their side. However, as the customers who have been interviewed said, only 16% of companies can do this. As we want to see higher percentage, we have started the series of articles to review the book and investigate the concept of "customer effort". What is it, how to influence loyalty, and what steps to take to reduce efforts. Today, we will cover 4 causes of customer efforts.
Causes of disloyalty
A customer dialed your phone number.
Attention please - a question! What is the probability that he will hang up in a positive mood?
If your answer is that there is zero probability, then you are close to the truth. In fact, things are even worse. According to the results of the survey, a contact of the customer with the company is 4 times more likely to end up with customer disloyalty than loyalty.
Customer service is badly affects loyalty
This paradox is frustrating but we will figure it out.
This is a customer's mood scale.
A customer is sad when he calls. He has troubles with checking in for the flight, or can't find the size of trousers on the website, or the toy kit misses one piece.
The company's task is simple – do some magic to bring the emotions back to a neutral level.
However, the statistics shows that the opposite thing happens: during the conversation with an operator, something happens that will totally upset the customer. The most damaging thing for the company is that disloyalty is viral. The customer will share the unsuccessful experience with friends, then publish an angry tweet - and so on. The experts have found out what can act as fatal something - which events irritate and frustrate the customers, making them to spread negative review on the company.
Let's review the conversations of an operator and a customer and note these moments when the customer has to make an effort.
1. The problem was not solved on the first try
Cause of customer effort: the operator did not foresee possible future problems and did not give recommendations on what to do in case the first advice does not help.
2. Impersonal service
- Madam, I got an error again!
- Have you tried it in another browser?
- Yes, as you recommended me, but the same thing!
- Which browser have you tried?
- Madam, I need to register asap!! If you cannot help, switch me to the senior manager!!
- No, I cannot switch you, which browser have you tried?
- Beep-beep

The customer has dropped the call. 5 minutes later, he will call again hoping to be connected to another operator that can understand the issue and help.

Cause of customer effort: the operator did not show sympathy, repeated the script with no emotions. The customer got an impression that he was speaking to a robot, and his need to be understood and heard was not fulfilled.
3. Forwarding
Scenario: three days ago, you bought a bicycle, but you detected the problems with the brakes and riding the bicycle is not safe.
This is the third (!) call to the company. It seems that the case is moving forward: the customer is forwarded to the technical department. The first question of a new operator:
- How can I help?
The customer repeats the problem through his teeth, holding back the growing desire to kill. "Next time I'll record the conversation and will play the recording rather than repeat myself."

Cause of customer effort: the customer is forwarded from one department to another department with no introductions to the next operator, making the customer to go in circle constantly repeating the sad story. The company does not have a system where the communication history is stored and available for every department.
4. Channel switching
The technical specialist could not solve the problem but have recommended sending email at and attaching the screenshots.
- By the way, would you be able to check in upon arrival to the airport?
Cause of customer effort: the customer was "transferred" to another channel - email. It turned out that the question should be submitted through a different channel, and there is no foreseeable solution of the problem at the moment.
Let's assume the customer does not call because he just decided not to resolve the issue but to check in for the flight at the airport. The result does not change, however, the customer's attitude have not crossed the line of hatred. Though, the company will lose the customer and some other users "infected" with negative.

That's how the customer service can hurt. Bringing the customer back to neutrality or, what is even harder, making a positive impression in these situations is difficult. That's why the researchers advise to focus not on delighting the customer but on reducing disloyalty. Make it easy for the customers to interact with the contact center, make sure that their state does not go into the negative direction. We found out 4 weak areas where customer efforts and repeated requests happen quite often:
1. Related or future problems are not considered.
2. Lack of personal attitude.
3. Customer has to repeat the problem description.
4. Selection of the communication channel, and switch of channels.
In next article, we'll discuss this topic in more details and find out what the support manager can do to reduce the negative impact of each of these factors.
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