If you’ve read our prior posts on customer effort, you now know how to calculate customer effort for each interaction. But the biggest question remains: What will you do about it? At the highest level, you should seek to reduce customer effort across the board, so trending the overall customer effort average is meaningful. But it’s hard to take action at that level, other than standing in front of an all-hands videoconference and shouting, “Reduce customer effort! Is that clear?” and we know how well that would work.
When customer effort scores are correlated to categories we are getting somewhere. Which interaction categories have the highest customer effort averages? Are there particular sites or queues that have unusually high customer effort? This is easy to do with an interaction analytics system.
A systematic approach will focus on the areas that drive customer effort. Once you understand the drivers, you can match them to high-effort transactions and understand what action you could take to reduce effort.
Drivers of effort –
- Process gaps – one bank found that broken ATMs drove a significant number of calls into customer service. These callers had a simple question. “Where is the closest ATM to this broken one?” A sticker on the door of each ATM, directing customers to the nearest one in case of an outage, could save customer calls and second trips to the ATM – a double reduction in effort.
- Misguided customer care – an activity that seems customer-friendly may turn out to add effort without requisite value. An example: “If there are any questions, call us back!” One of our clients found that agents were saying this at the end of virtually every transaction – unwittingly driving follow-up calls instead of encouraging those customers to use cheaper, lower-effort channels such as self-service.
- Problems with information systems – self-service platforms that are down, exhibit errors or are not user-friendly increase customer effort. And this effort is frustrating to customers who never wanted to call customer service in the first place – they wanted to use your inexpensive channel but couldn’t! In this case, quantifying customer effort by totaling the calls related to system issues can help create a business case for making those systems more robust.
- Security – issues overcoming security precautions are the single biggest effort driver within self-service. Multiple authentication levels, PINs, security questions, expiring passwords, etc., discourage legitimate customers as well as fraudsters. One of our clients suffered a massive spike in calls related to login issues starting in the last week of January, as taxpayers accessed their bank self-service system for the first time in a year, only to discover that they had forgotten their passwords. The solutions are not easy, but the sheer number and effort level of these calls dictate that more research is needed in this area.
Once you know the drivers and see what interactions are high-effort, you can take action. We’ll take that up in our last and final post in this series.
[Photo from the Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office via Flickr Creative Commons]