An Effortless Experience Isn’t Enough

In CX, we all focus on making the experience easier on our customers. (We even made it the title of our book.) But building loyalty isn’t as simple as removing friction.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s definitely worthwhile to simplify your customer experience. Friction is a key driver behind loyalty destruction, and your organization will benefit from streamlining processes and making it easier for customers to resolve issues.

But it won’t build fans who will go out of their way to order from you. That takes something bigger.

Experts weigh in

I realize not every agrees with me. In their book The Effortless Experience, the CEB (now part of Gartner) showed that focusing on making it easier to resolve issues improved loyalty more than focusing on creating “wow” experiences. Similarly, Beyond Philosophy reported in Customer Complaints X-Ray that reducing effort is the most important outcome for improving loyalty.

So what’s my problem?

I addressed this issue a couple of years back, contrasting these reports with Forrester’s finding (from The Power of Moments) that

The critical limitation of the CEB and Beyond Philosophy reports was that they were analyzing a customer service effort. When you restrict your analysis to resolving a service issue, you alter the critical outcome. Because in that unique situation, customers don’t want to be wowed – they just want to be done. So reducing effort makes perfect sense there, and will have a bigger impact.

But despite the myth of the service recovery paradox – which has largely been debunked – you don’t build loyalty from resolving issues. You only prevent disloyalty. Those are not the same thing, and they don’t have the effect on your bottom line.

Effortless < Preferred

Loyalty occurs when customers can choose another provider but don’t. Game-changing loyalty happens when customers have a cheaper or easier alternative yet still choose to do business with you. In that scenario, it’s emotional connection, not ease, that tips the scales.

Both Forrester and the XM Institute have found that emotions have the greatest impact on loyalty. But their work is largely B2C. Does the same hold true for B2B relationships?

Heart of the Customer’s research shows that it does. While we don’t have comprehensive cross-industry studies to look to like we do for B2C, we’ve found that across industries as diverse as manufacturing, software, and insurance, building an emotional connection also creates long-lasting B2B loyalty.

But don’t take my word for it. Jen Zamora, Dow’s Senior Global Director of CX & EX, has found the exact same thing. You can hear about her experience for yourself at Reuters Events’ upcoming Customer Service & Experience USA 2020, a virtual event taking place November 17-18.

Since April, Jen has been writing a series of articles about the Dow CX program on LinkedIn. I will have the opportunity to sit down with her (at least virtually) as she walks through the linkage her team at Dow has discovered between an enjoyable experience and ongoing loyalty.

Yes, you read that right: Dow creates an enjoyable experience in the chemical manufacturing industry. No easy feat.

I always enjoy Jen’s insights, and I know you will, too. So I hope you’ll join me (registration is free!) as I moderate a discussion with Jen and an impressive slew of other customer experience leaders.