Is it really worth the effort, can I be bothered?

njcpic.pngBothered, am I bothered, can I really be bothered …. gosh I sound like Catherine Tate!

Perhaps the new measurement system for measuring Customer Experience should be the bothered index! Do companies really care about our Experiences?


Over the last few days, I have been pondering on why we are seeing declines in Customer Satisfaction in the UK and possibly Worldwide. The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), the national measure of customer satisfaction, fell by 0.8 points to 77.1 (out of 100), its second consecutive six-monthly decline following the unbroken series of increases between 2008 and January 2013. Customer satisfaction declined across 12 of the 13 sectors covered in UKCSI. The exception was the banks and building societies sector, which saw a small increase (of 0.2 points) between July 2013 and January 2014. Retail (non-food) registered the second consecutive drop in its UKCSI score but remains the highest-scoring sector.

Jo Causon, CEO Institute of Customer Service; made the following comment “These results are a wake-up call to UK business. In an environment where customers are more aware than ever about the standard of service they should receive, organisations cannot afford to lessen their focus on customer service. This is important because it impacts not only the success individual organisations, but also the growth and competitiveness of the UK economy.

To read more about these results click here.

Customer Effort:

I have read a few interesting articles about the increases in customer effort too – so there is a linkage here between the difficulties to do something,  how we feel about it – feel about the company and/or the person we are being served by.

In a recent piece of research published by CCA Global their view was quite simple ‘Organisations make things too hard for customers’. That’s the headline finding from recent CCA research in which CCA members were asked to select the issues which cause customers to expend unnecessary pain during their interactions with organisations.

The most commonly selected issue (65%) was ‘the number of touchpoints customers have to make or the amount of information they are required to provide’. This implies a general belief that complexity is the main driver of effort and that it can prove a serious irritant to customers while also requiring them to intensify their effort to achieve a resolution of their issue.

In recent years the pendulum has swung away from Fordist models of production towards much greater choice and differentiation for consumers including into choices around how they want to interact with organisations.

There’s just too much choice now:

Too many choices are in many cases actually confusing customers. This echoes the research of psychologist Barry Schwartz in the “The Paradox of Choice” which argues there is a point at which effort required to obtain enough information to be able to distinguish between options outweighs the benefit to the consumer of the extra choice.

Choice no longer liberates, but debilitates and might even be said to tyrannise.  Read more about this research here.

So has choice become one of these for your company:

  1. Debilitates the customer?
  2. Liberates the customer?
  3. Tyrannises the customer?

Minute by minute:

Our lives are busier that ever: we do far too many things, cramming stuff into every last minute. My work life and personal life is much more of a blur, I even use my work electronic calendar for all my appointments, perhaps need to start adding a reminder about having lunch, and now regularly go on conference calls after 19.00 in the evening, as not a moment is free in the day. So we are all busy. Now we also have so many things, so many products which is great when they all work, but when we need to do something or something goes wrong – do we as a customer sigh, as we know we need to contact someone. I know in my mind, even though I have run many large scale Operations, in particular Contact Centres, I think – how is this going to go then. Not because of the operator who works in the Centre but because of the process and lack of understanding they will have. They are simply not empowered to help anymore.

Santander experience:

I have recently had experience with Santander where I have a mortgage. Usually I do not have any need to query anything, but in the last week following my annual statement received in the post, I wanted to check something – so went online. So far so good, until I hit the account button and got an ‘we are experiencing problems with our website’, so I closed it down and told myself to try again tomorrow. This I duly did and got the same problem again, tried again later in the afternoon and got the same error message again. So this time I called the number presented on screen, I went into a queue and eventually got answered. The operator I spoke to advised that he wasn’t aware of any issues, I queried this and said surely more customers had been calling them, I can’t be the only one with the error message, to which he replied “well we have been having problems with the website for a few months now on and off’ ….. amazing! So I asked “well what is being done about that then?” So why aren’t they bothering to:

  1. Let the customer know – Post something on their website to explain about the issues?
  2. Fix the problems properly – to prevent the error messages in the first place?
  3. Communicate to your colleagues – when there is a known issue, let you advisors in the Contact Centres know, so they can sound a little more informed about issues
  4. Be proactive with faults/issues– they must know who has logged onto their account, why are they not proactively following up with customers to see if they can help! Not the other way round, leave the customer to fumble through the issue …

The best is yet to come, when I had sorted out this query, I let him know that I have another mortgage with another company on a property that I rent out. I asked whether it would be beneficial to have the mortgages with the same company and could he advise on that. The response “It would be best to see a broker, who can advise on the best mortgages” ……. So I made it my place to be bothered to enquire and they couldn’t be bothered to even talk to me about business – amazing!

This is just one example, there are many examples of great experiences but how many more aren’t. Businesses have been built on processes, policies and operating models that wrap around, rather than starting from what do we want our Business to be like? to feel like? what does great look like? Once you have agreed those principles,  then design your operating model around it,  enthuse your people to listen to customers and go above and beyond to provide great experiences.  Experiences should be ‘effortless’ and when you want to contact a company, you should leave feeling like then were really ‘bothered’ about my experience.