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Delighting Customers Doesn't Pay, Making Their Lives Easier Does

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New Book from CEB Outlines Why an 'Effortless Experience' is the Key to Customer Loyalty

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Five years of research reveals that delighting customers during service, support or other customer care interactions is no more likely to lead to higher repeat sales, share of wallet or positive word-of-mouth than simply meeting their expectations. According to "The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty," a new book from leading member-based advisory firm CEB (NYSE: EXBD), a customer service strategy built around delighting customers is doomed to fail 84 percent of the time, on average. Instead, "The Effortless Experience" makes the case that companies should focus on reducing a customer's perceived effort – what customers feel they have to do in order to resolve their issue – to ensure those customers remain loyal. In fact, CEB research shows that 94 percent of customers who have a low-effort service experience will buy from that same company again.

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"Today's customer puts a lot of value on how well a company delivers on its basic promises, solves day-to-day problems and helps them avoid future issues. Companies underestimate the benefit of simply meeting these customer expectations, because it goes against the conventional wisdom of 'above and beyond,'" said co-author Matthew Dixon, executive director, CEB. "To build loyalty, companies need to actually think like the customer. This means stop thinking 'exceed expectations,' and start thinking 'make it easy.'"

Over the past few years, a new battleground for customer loyalty has emerged. Instead of attempting to positively impact loyalty, the more effective strategy is to mitigate disloyalty by making service interactions easy. In fact, 96 percent of customers who endure a high-effort experience with an organization report that they are more likely to be disloyal, compared to only 6 percent of customers who had low-effort interactions.

How to Create an 'Effortless Experience'
In "The Effortless Experience," the authors detail specific obstacles that companies take for granted, but frustrate customers on a regular basis. The good news for companies who aren't currently focused on reducing customer effort is that CEB has established a service blueprint, identifying solutions that can be readily implemented to help boost loyalty. Some of the near-term approaches include:

  • Simplify Self-Serve Options – Make self-serve options simple and help guide customers to the option that best suits their need and resolves the issue quickly.
  • Help Customers Avoid Future Issues – Equip customer service teams with knowledge about commonly occurring downstream issues so they can help customers resolve future problems during the first interaction.
  • Coach Reps to Anticipate Emotional Reactions – Encourage reps to use specific, targeted language to guide customer interactions to a more appealing end result; those who do generate up to 80 percent better quality ratings and 75 percent lower effort ratings.
  • Give Control to Get Control – Empower reps to exercise their own judgment to deliver the desired service experience for each individual customer.

For more information on creating a low-effort service experience or to purchase a copy of "The Effortless Experience," visit our website and join the discussion on LinkedIn. "The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty" was created based on research from surveys with more than 125,000 customers, 5,000 service reps and 100 companies. The groundbreaking idea, which was first brought to market by CEB in 2010 and published by the Harvard Business Review, has been expanded to include new insights and solutions for reducing customer effort and creating a low-effort service organization, as well as a new version of CEB's much-publicized metric, the Customer Effort Score.

The book, authored by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick DeLisi, is published by Portfolio, a division of Penguin Group USA.

About CEB
CEB, the leading member-based advisory company, equips more than 10,000 organizations around the globe with insights, tools and actionable solutions to transform enterprise performance. By combining advanced research and analytics with best practices from member companies, CEB helps leaders realize outsized returns by more effectively managing talent, information, customers and risk. Member companies include more than 85% of the Fortune 500, half the Dow Jones Asian Titans, and nearly 85% of the FTSE 100. More at cebglobal.com

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