Can you make your customer complaint experience more effortless?
In my last blog, I discussed the merits of the Customer Effort Score (CES) and how it might used in a post-interaction environment to understand the impact on customer. Today, I’d like to discuss how making complaint interactions with your organisation both easy and effortless for your customers not only makes business sense but also helps engender loyalty for your organisation. (Thought: might be advantageous to write an article comparing NPS, CSAT and CES – but also underlining it is possible to measure all in one place!)
As I’ve probably highlighted to readers previously, at The Research Locker, we advocate the use of CES as a key metric to not only understand how much effort your customers are required to exert to raise and resolve their complaints, but also recognise that measuring CES properly can help you focus on where and how to improve your complaint handling performance and deliver a more positive experience to your customers.
I won’t dwell too much on how bad customer service can negatively impact a business – we are all well versed in such stories and understand how poor experiences can trigger switching behaviour, bad Word of Mouth, etc. And such stories of ‘failure’ are obviously accentuated in a complaints environment, where helping customers in their “moment of truth” is held up as the panacea of “getting it right (first time)”.
Measuring Customer Effort can help your organisation avoid such service failures as it focuses on where you can reduce customer pain points – and in most instances, such pain points will relate to the customer having to do too much, e.g. make too many calls, repeat too much information, complete too much admin, etc. But if Customer Effort has a mantra, then it would have to be:
Make your company easy to do business with
In past research experiences, we have seen that too much Customer Effort to raise and / or resolve their complaint has resulted in pushing customer to a bad place, one which not only makes them feel frustrated, disappointed, unhappy, etc. but also negatively impacts their intended behaviours to remain as your customer and to talk positively about your organisation. In one instance, those who stated it had been ‘difficult to raise their complaint’ were 2x as likely to move away from the client organisation. If everyone who had a perceived difficulty raising and resolving their complaints were too switch, then the revenue at risk would be significant – as would the cost of acquisition to replace such customers (hence, my leaky bucket image at the top of this article). In fact, the White House’s Office of Consumer Affairs suggest it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer as it is to retain an existing one!
The same White House office as suggests that for every customer who complains, 26 others remain silent … meaning a company’s complaint levels are only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ … and, again, we all know the stories that customers don’t always complaint because they believe:
- It won’t make any difference
- They won’t be treated fairly
- It would take too much effort
With a 26:1 ratio, this means that for a regulated company with 10,000 reportable complaints in a year (and that is before we consider new reporting rules which came into play in June 2016), the actual level of ‘disgruntled’ customers might be closer to 270,000 – with each representing varying degrees of risk from switching away from the organisation.
OK, so it’s going to be hard to judge Effort if someone doesn’t complaint – but more reason to understand the Effort required by those who do complain, i.e. by identifying where more Effort was required than might be reasonably expected, then companies have an opportunity to reduce or relieve this pain point and make the complaint experience more effortless for customers.
Using Customer Effort Score feedback, you can understand how and where within your operations you can make it more effortless for customers to raise and resolve their complaints.
Of course, there are some who may think that making it easier for customers to complain, means you might then experience an upturn in complaints – this might be true, but its important to remember that for every customer who complains, this is an opportunity to resolve the customer’s issue(s) and retain their custom and enhance their loyalty. Retaining the customer is paramount in an increasingly competitive environment – as mentioned earlier, it’s not just about the immediate or longer term revenue lost as a result of customer churn, it’s also about the cost of replacing that customer too – both lost revenue and acquisition cost together are likely to add up to more than the cost of resolving the customer complaint!
To end, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) suggest Customer Effort is key to customer loyalty. I agree with this sentiment, but I also think there is no truer proving ground for measuring Customer Effort than in a complaint environment – aside from the actual outcome of the complaint itself, ensuring the complaint was handled effectively, efficiently & fairly involves ensuring that customers have to exert little or no effort in their interactions with your organisation! So next time you are looking at how to build a business case to drive positive change within your complaints set-up, consider how Customer Loyalty can be adversely impacted by a negative complaint experience and what this means in terms of lost revenue and the cost of replacing defecting customers. Then think about how reducing Customer Effort might help you focus on where you can improve your customers’ complaint experience and ensure their future loyalty.