Creating a service experience that only feels like less effort
In this series, Dave Galloway, Traction's EVP of Service Cloud Adoption, dives into the Effortless Experience, a customer service framework that decreases customer effort in each interaction. This method is composed of four key pillars: channel flexibility, next issue avoidance, engineered experiences and empowered front-line staff. In this article, Dave looks at three tactics to help you create experiences that are perceived as less effort by your customers.
When the Effortless Experience researchers set out to understand how customers perceive effort, they stumbled across an interesting finding. They found there's a disconnect between the level of effort customers think a service interaction involves and the actual level of effort involved. In the end, the research determined how customers feel about the effort accounts for 65% of the perceived effort. In other words, if a customer felt supported through their service experience, they also felt like they put in less effort (even if that's not the case). Believe it or not, this is good news. With the perceived effort stemming from the customer's feelings, you have the ability to create an experience that is interpreted as less effort. While you can teach experience engineering, it requires more than the typical soft skills taught in service on-boarding. Experience engineering requires three specific tactics:
- Advocacy to show alignment with the customer
- Positive language to focus on what can be done, rather than what can't
- Anchoring to position one solution in comparison to another one
The Effortless Experience research shows customers feel like the interaction took 55% - 75% less effort against a control group when these techniques are used to guide them through service interactions. And, as I discussed in my first post of this series, a decrease in effort can increase customer loyalty and spending.
Building customer advocacy
Sometimes you can't avoid an effort-laden interaction and advocacy ensures the customer at the very least sees the benefits of their effort. There are a few keys to positioning effortful alternatives with customer benefits:
- Take your time and don't rush to “no.” Negative words like “no,” “can't” and “won't” immediately increase the perceived level of effort.
- Don't rationalize high effort by trying to explain the situation away. Customers are looking for a solution and don't care about why they're in their current situation.
- Listen for the bigger issue and avoid being too literal with requests. If an agent understands the “why” behind a case, they can effectively position alternative solutions.
The Effortless Experience research showed that building customer advocacy was the easiest way to decrease the perceived customer effort. When the agent puts his or herself in the customer's shoes, the customer feels like the interaction took 77% less effort, which in turn can directly increase loyalty and share of wallet.
Using positive language effectively
Using positive language isn't about Jedi mind tricks. Rather, it's about taking a potentially negative response and re-positioning it. Positive language is used to explain the truth about what can be done, rather than just focusing on what can't be done. For example, if a product is out of stock there is no way to make that product appear. Instead of telling the customer that you are out of a product, agents can offer a solution by telling them the product will be available in two weeks. This mindset of “I'm an advocate for the customer and need to find out what can be done to help,” is monumental in the language that is used, which has been linked to an 82% higher experience quality.
Anchoring your best solution
When the best solution available isn't the customer's desired solution, anchoring can be an effective tool to decrease the perceived effort. For instance, your customer wants a set time for a technician to fix their dishwasher tomorrow. Unfortunately, you can only guarantee a four-hour time frame for the next day or a specific time the following week. Anchoring can make a less desirable solution seem more desirable. The agent can take either one of two approaches:
- “We only have a four-hour window available tomorrow, so someone will need to be home from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.” versus
- “It looks like our next guaranteed time isn't until next Tuesday. We could have a technician there tomorrow but it's a four-hour time slot, so someone would have the be home from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. Would that be a possibility? It would get your dishwasher fixed tomorrow rather than next week.”
While neither solution is ideal, comparing one solution to another, as outlined in approach B, immediately reduces the perceived effort by 55%. Implementing these three strategies — advocacy, positive language and anchoring — can lower your average handle time while increasing customer satisfaction scores and resolution rates. This process is not a cure-all, but it is something you can do to improve your customer experience and lower their perceived effort. No technology is required, but you'll get an immediate return in terms of customer loyalty. If you want to get technical, there are a number of things you can do with Salesforce to support engineered experiences:
- Update knowledge articles and email templates to focus on “what can be done” instead of “what can't be done”
- Use macros and quick text to consistently identify “can do” messages for your agents to use on cases
- Leverage Salesforce Lightning Flows to provide specifically-worded responses depending on the case data
I'd love to know how your organization is engineering experiences to support the Effortless Experience approach. Let's connect.