Although our book The Effortless Experience was published a little over five years ago, it is easy to find examples of companies and customer service leaders who are as eager as ever about the concept. Recently, I came across a white paper from the Incite Group that focused on their key findings from a survey about industry priorities for 2019.
The Effortless Experience in 2019
Among other things, the survey asked respondents how important “delivering an effortless customer experience” would be to their organizations in 2019. More than 75% of respondents marked it as “essential,” making it the most important thing leaders are focused on in 2019. In second place for “essential” votes, it appears that “recruiting, training, and retaining agents” and “providing a personalized experience” were roughly tied.
Here at Challenger, we’d say that you can achieve all of those objectives through a single strategy centered on reducing customer effort. Really, it’s a bit of a chain reaction:
See, a strategy based on Effortless Experience should begin with your people. Ultimately, customer effort is in the eye of the beholder (your customers), and the best way to influence how a customer perceives their level of effort when seeking service from your company is to arm your reps with the skills that are proven to reduce effort.
Step one: Recruit the best reps
Hiring the right profile is important to customer service success, of course. Research shows that there are certain characteristics that make for the best customer service rep—and it’s not what you might think. Check out HBR’s article Kick-Ass Customer Service for more detail on how to re-imagine your hiring process.
Step two: Take your training beyond “soft skills.”
In our research to understand what can reduce a customer’s perception of effort, we interestingly found that being professional and polite will get you exactly nowhere when it comes to reducing effort. Of course, these things are table stakes…staff your service function with rude reps at your own peril. Those types of soft skills are simply not enough for today’s customer.
Instead, teach your reps to take control of a conversation and show them how to guide the customer while anticipating customer needs and reactions to engineer a win-win outcome for the customer and the company. You can learn more about the key skills needed to deliver an Effortless Experience in our whitepaper.
The Final Outcome
When you train your people with meaningful skills that enable them to deliver different-in-kind service experiences, you’re not just going to see a reduction in customer effort, but you’re going to also see an improvement in your rep retention. Because when a rep is practicing the low effort skills—which, by the way, are all about providing personalized service in a scaleable manner—they feel more engaged with your company and with your customers. The job becomes more enjoyable because reps are approaching every interaction with a human touch.
We work with companies from a multitude of industries who have seen these results in their own organizations after shifting their strategy to focus on Effortless Experience. One financial services company, for example, reduced rep attrition by 46% in 18 months while simultaneously improving first contact resolution by 10%.
One healthcare company improved their Net Promoter Score by 10% while reducing voluntary attrition by nearly 9%. In both cases, these companies put their people at the heart of their customer service strategy and saw the benefits almost immediately.