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Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Customer Care

Let’s Measure Effort, But...

...let’s not be seduced into thinking comfort is ‘all about effort’

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 12:02

I recently had eye surgery that required me to sleep on my back for two weeks following the operation. I have always slept on my side, ever since I was a kid. My back-sleeping attempts are so challenging, I am never able to nap on those United States to Europe flights. I usually end up burning a gazillion frequent flyer points to get a pricey seat that reclines to a flatbed—just so I can turn on my side!

It made me think about the many times we make customers break their routines of comfort in order to be served the way we want to serve them. When my family recently organized my mother’s 102nd birthday party, the restaurant bluntly told us we could not move tables together, or have simple table decorations, and if we wanted to have ice cream with the decorated birthday cake we brought, we had to buy a case of 48 cups in advance. We had only half that many family members at her party.

One more thing: We had to either all order from the menu, or all go through their buffet. Try getting an eight-year-old to select roast beef in gravy, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes from the buffet when there are chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and French fries on the kid’s menu! Their rules trumped our comfort and enjoyment.

Effortless is the new buzzword in today’s world of customer service. Some companies have even devised elaborate “effort” metrics driven from customer surveys. But in the quest to take the bureaucracy and red tape out of customers’ experiences, we forget that comfort also includes anxiety, not just hassle. Wait time is a favorite target. Wait is complex when viewed through the eyes of customers. When you take your child to the emergency room with a nasty cut, wait has a completely different meaning if that child is also in shock or turning blue.

The simplicity of an effort metric makes customer experience improvement seem more easily prescriptive. But, it fails to capture the complexity of customer experience. Let’s measure effort. But let’s not be seduced into thinking comfort is “all about effort.” It takes no physical effort for me to lie on my back. But that position for serious sleeping ramps up my angst and dramatically reduces my comfort.


About The Author

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Chip Bell has helped companies dramatically enhance their bottom lines and marketplace reputation through innovative customer-centric strategies. For the sixth year in a row, Global Gurus in 2020 ranked Bell as one of the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service. Bell has authored 24 books; seven are international best sellers. His latest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions (Berrett-Koehler, 2020), shows how co-creation partnerships enable you to tap into the treasure trove of ideas, ingenuity, and genius-in-the-raw within every customer.