Anyone who has ever had to call a customer service center has at least one story of an unpleasant experience. While some companies have poor customer service because they won’t invest in it, no company sets out to intentionally provide terrible customer service. Companies that try to provide good service and fail do so because they focus on the wrong things.
That’s the basic premise of The Effortless Experience, a 2013 book by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick Delisi. Based on extensive research from both customer and service organization perspective, The Effortless Experience challenges common assumptions about what the customer wants and how to provide it.
Companies like Amazon and Zappos (which is owned by Amazon) have made a name for themselves by providing excellent customer service. Other companies have had high profile stories of above-and-beyond customer service. Companies in competitive areas try to distinguish themselves by providing service that delights the customer. Research shows this is of little benefit.
Increasing customer loyalty doesn’t do much to keep them around. Decreasing customer disloyalty should be the ultimate goal. Disloyalty is decreased by reducing the customer’s effort. This isn’t necessarily their exertion, which is how much work they actually have to do, but the perception of that work.
The ultimate goal of any customer service interaction is to get something done as quickly and painlessly as possible. This could be changing a cell phone plan, configuring email, or ordering a part. In The Effortless Experience, the authors describe how to move toward that goal. They include the results of surveys and actual implementations from organizations that have shifted to a focus on effort.
Dixon and his coauthors give usable guidance for assessing your organization’s performance and moving to a culture that focuses on effort. This includes advice for non-call-center interactions. It’s a quick read with a lot of great content. Like many books of this type, The Effortless Experience describes what should be common knowledge. I strongly recommend it for anyone who provides service to customers.