From an evolutionary standpoint, humans have certainly known how to create a comfortable, secure and generally pleasant lifestyle for themselves. Darwin's statement of evolution is built on this exact idea: that humans’ primary objective is to steadily change and adapt nature to their needs.
Just think about all the gadgets and machines that are meant to make our lives easier, like cars and airplanes for quick transportation, coffee makers for our daily dose of energy, not to mention our much-coveted smartphones that practically connect us to all the knowledge that humans have amassed throughout time.
It is rather impressive how humans managed to create this perfectly tuned environment in which everything we see around exists with the purpose of making it all easier for us to survive, to feel safe, to pass on our genes etc., but generally to reach our objectives quickly and with minimum risks.
With this in mind, it’s rather obvious why humans hate effort and why all companies should strive to reduce it at all levels for their customers. A simple, yet insightful analogy is the uploading speed of a website – if it takes more than 7 seconds (on average), you’ll have lost the customers even before you could present them the benefits of your brand, product or service. Why? Because we have a small attention span and are used to get a fast user experience online.
So, what is customer effort and how does it manifest?
This concept refers to a customer’s perception regarding the energy or resources that he/she needs to expend while interacting with a company, brand, product or service at a process or touch point level. Take for example the work that customers must do to get their problems solved like getting a new credit card: calling the bank call center to get some general information about the process, waiting in queue for the operator to answer the call, explaining the situation, understanding the terms & conditions and the next steps that have to be taken, visiting a branch to personally bring the documentation, read the contract and sign it, wait for the credit card issuing and for it to be delivered or visit again the branch to pick it up.
Not exactly easy, right?
Practically, the final impression that customers are left with after an encounter with your organization is decisive. It all boils down to: has the effort they’ve exerted been worth it or not? And remember that the verdict is always subjective and could be the result of one or several repeated experiences.
Effort is a multidimensional concept too. It breaks down to 4 essential components that can be measured to get an objective assessment of it:
TIME EFFORT is exemplified with this situation: Is your product/service so gratifying that customers wouldn’t mind spending hours at endless queues to get it?
PHYSICAL ENERGY - when you have to physically go to the bank to verify identity instead of being able to do it through more convenient remote channels, as a call center or online account.
COGNITIVE EFFORT refers to the amount of mental energy required to process a certain piece of information, such as contractual terms and conditions, user manual or website product presentation.
EMOTIONAL STATE is a very important component as it is the result of a cumulative and subjective interpretation of events/situations. Avoiding negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, anger and frustration from being associated with an organization’s brands is vital, especially because we are biased to be more influenced by negative experiences and remember them more often than positives ones.
Our next piece will explore how companies can reach a perfect balance between customer expectations and customer effort on each dimension so that they can create a unified customer experience, increase customer loyalty and augment customers’ pleasure of doing business with your organization.
For more on how to measure customer effort, go to our EAS (Effort Assessment Score) official website and give our Demo a try!