Using your company’s products should be easy.
Most executives and business leaders are quick to agree. Nobody would choose to make the process of purchasing and using a product harder than it needs to be, right?
But customers don’t think of a product or service as an end of its own. It is inevitably linked to an experience, which continues at every point of interaction between a brand and its customers.
This is clearly evident any time a customer has a problem. There are multiple channels they can use to attempt to resolve their problem – and they can either go online for support, via help, chat, or an online form, or make a phone call. However they seek the support, a customer contacts the customer support team, describes the problem, and hopes it can get resolved quickly and easily. Unsurprisingly, that’s not always the case.
If customers expect a company’s products to be easy to use, they definitely expect the customer support process to be equally easy. When it isn’t, they communicate their displeasure loudly and clearly.
Good user experience (UX) design takes this into account. The less effort customers have to expend to solve their problems, the more likely they are to become loyal brand advocates.
How Effort Impacts Customer Loyalty
Brands that simplify the experience their products and services offer to customers enjoy much higher customer loyalty rates than brands that don’t. In fact, a low-effort UX is a better predictor of customer loyalty than customer satisfaction or even exceptional customer service.
This might sound odd at first. Exceptional customer experience is supposed to be the one thing that encourages customer loyalty more than anything, right?
Not according to a comprehensive Gartner study. It turns out delighting customers by exceeding their expectations doesn’t result in a higher rate of customer loyalty than simply meeting their expectations.
Brands that offer lean, efficient UX through interactions like self-service and automatic authentication enjoy far greater customer loyalty than brands that rely on customers to put in the effort to solve their problems.
The bottom line is this: if a customer has to work at all for a positive outcome, your brand is nudging them towards disloyalty.
UX Design Mitigates Customer Disloyalty
According to Gartner’s report, 96% of respondents who had high-effort experiences with brands reported being disloyal to those brands. On the other hand, only 9% of customers who reported low-effort interactions reported disloyalty.
Brands that design UX to reduce the effort that support processes require are earning the greatest degree of customer loyalty. The key to this approach is removing the friction that would otherwise turn customers away.
Examples of this kind of friction are easy to identify:
1. Contacting the Company More Than Once
If a customer has to call multiple times to get a problem solved, your brand’s reputation won’t survive the hit, regardless of how quickly and professionally your team solves the problem. In fact, if you can use the principles of self-service to make resources available that prevent customers from calling in the first place, you are winning the low-effort game.
2. Being Treated to Generic Service
Nobody likes being treated like a number. Generic service that fails to make customers feel unique and appreciated are highly detrimental to customer loyalty. Incorporating even a small degree of personalization can have tremendous results towards mitigating customer disloyalty.
3. Being Forced to Repeat Themselves
If your customer relationship management (CRM) system isn’t keeping tabs on the things your customers are saying to you, they will have to tell you the same things over and over again.
Incorporate the 4 Principles of Low-Effort Service
Mitigating UX friction can help improve customer outcomes across all of your brand’s touchpoints. There are four principles you need to keep in mind to implement low-effort experiences successfully:
- Boost Self-Service Support Channels. If there are ways your customers can solve their support problems without calling you, empower them to do so. Give them access to their data, expose a business process online, or use a web app to automate support tickets.
- Focus on “Next Issue Avoidance”. In many cases, solving one problem leads to another. If customers are calling your support team with predictable strings of sequential problems, you can improve customer loyalty by addressing the entire string from the very start.
- Reduce the Perception of Complexity. Sometimes, you can’t change the number of steps a customer has to take to solve a problem. But there is a major difference between referring them to the user manual and giving your customer personalized step-by-step instructions.
- Measure Quality by Individual Interactions. Metrics are incredibly useful, but they don’t always tell the whole story. Customer service reps who lose sight of individual interactions might close calls quickly, but they won’t prevent new calls from coming in.
There is more to customer loyalty than delivering “wow” experiences. Brands – and their UX team – have to find ways to deliver those kinds of experiences without asking the customer to put in unnecessary effort to get there. Brands that achieve this are breaking into the frontiers of effortless experience design.