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Why the best support often means a less memorable CX

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

In 2021, many customers want a fuss-free experience. They want help when they need it, how they need it, and where they need it - and they want that help fast.

Take it from the New York Times – during a chat with Wix, Executive Director of Customer Care at The Times, Jeff Shah, said that they know most customers aren’t looking for support to show them they’re special; they just want to get a solution for their issue so they can go back to enjoying the product.

Many customers don’t need a Joshie the Giraffe-like experience where the business goes above and beyond to make their interaction as special as possible.

In times when many businesses are looking to create ‘unforgettable’ customer support experiences, we explored why the best support often means a less memorable CX.

Customers are just as happy with consistent ‘vanilla’ support experiences that deliver than those that go above and beyond

Does delighting every customer always pay off? Maybe not. According to the Harvard Business Review:

“Loyalty has a lot more to do with how well companies deliver on their basic, even plain-vanilla promises than on how dazzling the service experience might be. Yet most companies have failed to realize this and pay dearly in terms of wasted investments and lost customers.”

When customers need to contact support, it’s because something is likely going wrong with the product. Most customers just want help solving an issue.

Let’s look at an example from the NYT:

“If someone has a problem with their subscription or didn’t receive the paper that day, I don’t want them to remember they had to reach out to customer care. I want to take care of this issue so quickly that their memory of the Times is reading the paper,” Shah said.

Customers who call into support may already feel agitated – they expect the product or service to work and when it doesn’t, they need to take the time to contact support. Then when they get a hold of someone they may need to go through hoops (agent transfers, needing to repeat information, robotic support. etc). This creates an even bigger hassle for the customer.

Businesses can’t always make customers more loyal by delighting them when they reach out. A better strategy is to minimize effort for customers by quickly solving the issue without any fuss or ‘extra toppings’ and letting them get back to their day.

Hold off on creating ‘wow’ moments and quickly and efficiently get to the bottom of the issue and find a resolution. Another option for an effective yet less memorable support experience? Letting customers solve simpler issues on their own.

They’d rather fix their issues fast with self-service

Matt Dixon, author of The Effortless Experience said that many senior leaders underestimate customers’ desire for self-service. In the poll, senior managers across various industries were asked about customers’ ideal CX and many said that customers want to speak with agents and feel delighted.

Instead, Dixon found customers want to use self-service. They’re accustomed to using self-service. They don’t want a dazzling experience, they want efficiency. Dixon also found that users first visit the website to see if they can find answers (an FAQ, some piece of knowledge, a way for them to solve the issue on their own) and then call the business when they need to speak to someone to get their issue resolved.

This shows that many customers only call the business when they can’t find what they need.

Give customers what they want: a satisfying yet uneventful experience through self-service. Make sure you continuously update your knowledge base so customers always have the most relevant information when they need it. Make it easy for customers to access that information so they can succeed on their own (ex: make the knowledge base easy to find, use, and place it in a prominent position on your website).

You likely won’t surprise and delight customers, but they will get exactly what they need with little hassle, creating a positive experience.

Customers care more about their level of effort than feeling ultra satisfied with agents

Some companies still consider customer satisfaction (CSAT) a prime indicator of success, but the data shows otherwise. Customer loyalty depends more on how easy you make it for your customers to do business with you.

A Gartner survey on effortless customer experience found that 20% of customers who reported they were satisfied with their service interaction also expressed they were actually intending to leave the company and buy from somebody else.

What does this mean for you?

Even if your customers are satisfied, it doesn’t mean customers will choose your business over another. A customer may love your coffee but also go and try the newly opened cafe for his fix.

Customer loyalty is about minimizing effort: the more effort customers put in, the lower the loyalty rates. Use Customer Effort Score to grasp customers’ loyalty and look for high effort indicators such as:

  • The need for customers to contact a company more than once

  • Being treated like a number, or what’s referred to as “generic” service

  • Having to repeat information

  • The customer’s perception that it takes additional effort to resolve an issue

Identifying and fixing those sticky areas (using self-service so customers don’t need to wait to receive help or delivering seamless support) will reduce effort and improve customer loyalty.

Keep customers happy with an effective, ‘forgettable’ experience

Customer loyalty and customer delight overlap less than you might think. When businesses spend time ‘delighting’ customers, they may waste time and resources creating dazzling experiences when a simple solution would make them just as happy.

And though there are times when businesses can benefit from going above and beyond when delivering support, your efforts would be better placed on consistently meeting customer expectations and offering effortless experiences.

At the end of day, a customer who can solve an issue themselves in 10 minutes makes them happier than offering that same customer a cookie when they come into your store. It’s not as ‘memorable’ but if you make customers’ experience easier, they’ll likely remain loyal.


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