Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers
Delighting customers doesn't build loyalty. Reducing customers' effort does.

How Two Companies Drove Loyalty by Reducing Customer Effort

Amex Logo and Reliant Energy Logo

In 2010, we introduced the direct linkage between reduced customer effort and customer loyalty. Now, learn how two companies successfully put the idea of low customer effort into practice.

The Idea...

CEB's original article, featured in the Harvard Business Review, answered three questions:

  1. How important is customer service to loyalty?
  2. Which customer service activities increase loyalty, and which don't?
  3. Can companies increase loyalty without raising their customer service operating costs?

After conducting structured interviews with customer service leaders and a study of more than 75,000 customers, CEB uncovered three findings:

1. Exceeding expectations during service interactions has negligible impact on customer loyalty.



2. Service organizations create loyal customers primarily by reducing customer effort - i.e. helping them solve their problems quickly and easily - not by delighting them in service interactions.



3. In the customer service environment, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) is a weak predictor of customer loyalty. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is slightly better. Customer Effort Score (CES), however, tops the charts with the highest predictive power.



The Idea...In Practice

Many executives now want to know what steps they should take to successfully reduce their customers' effort, specifically:

  • How do we expose our frontline reps to these concepts and get them involved?
  • How can we get buy-in from senior management?
  • What should we do to identify areas of high customer effort in our company?
  • How should we measure success at reducing customer effort?
  • How do we translate reduced customer effort into increased customer retention and revenue?

Our article details two success stories:

American Express U.S. Consumer Travel Network shares how they secured buy-in for their initiatives from both frontline reps and senior management.

Reliant shares how they have been able to achieve a Customer Effort Score that is 26% lower than their industry average.

Access the Tool

Customer Effort Score (CES) Audit

The CES Audit enables executives responsible for service interactions and their teams to identify the ways customers are expending the greatest effort across all service channels (e.g., Web, IVR, E-mail, Chat, Phone), and brainstorm ways to reduce that effort and, therefore, reduce disloyalty.

This tool can help answer three core questions:

  1. Where is the greatest opportunity to reduce customer effort for my organization?
  2. What specifically can I improve within each service channel?
  3. What are the practical and proven solutions to address my needs?

CES Audit FAQ's

  • Q: What will I get from taking the audit?
    A: The audit will surface "effort-causing" areas within each channel that need to be addressed. For example, you can calculate effort leverage scores which indicates the greatest opportunities for improvement.
  • Q: How long will this audit take?
    A: You can take the audit individually in less than 30 minutes. Many organizations complete the tool as a team, discussing the inputs and the impact on each channel. This team exercise typically takes two hours.
  • Q: Who should take the audit?
    A: The manager or above of the service organization. We recommend having the team participate in the exercise as well.