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FCW : August 15, 2015
KRIS VAN RIPER is the government practice leader and SCOTT SHERMAN is a senior executive adviser at CEB. Improving digital services has been made a priority in President Barack Obama’s management agenda, highlighted in the Digital Services Playbook and cited in several cross- agency priority goals. At issue is how agencies can maximize their efficiency to provide the highest- quality citizen experiences in the most cost-effective manner. Conventional wisdom suggests that organizations satisfy their customers when they far exceed expectations. Fueled by media cov- erage of companies such as Zappos and JetBlue, 89 percent of organiza- tions surveyed by CEB believe that “delighting” customers will increase loyalty. That perception assumes a direct correlation between extreme customer service delivery and cus- tomer satisfaction. Our research, however, has found that premium customer service programs are not likely to produce that outcome. In fact, it shows that customers whose expectations were exceeded were no more loyal to the organization than those whose expectations were simply met. If the return on investment for exceeding service expectations is negligible — or even draining — for the organi- zation, then adopting that type of strategy could prove debilitating to an already cash-strapped agency. Nevertheless, failing to meet cus- tomer expectations can have crip- pling effects on loyalty. A customer is 400 percent more likely to be disloyal after a subpar service expe- rience. That statistic has dramatic implications for agencies because it demonstrates how a failure to meet customer expectations could profoundly undermine the agency’s support of the federal mission. A key driver of customer satis- faction is the level of effort the cus- tomer must exert during a transac- tion. CEB research indicates that 96 percent of customers who put “high effort” into service interactions are disloyal, compared to a 9 percent disloyalty rate among those with “low-effort” interactions. Drivers of effort include repeat interactions, generic service, redundant informa- tion, transfers and the customer’s perception of how difficult it was to arrive at a solution. For federal agencies, creating a low-effort experience can go beyond increasing customer loyalty to generate operational cost savings by reducing customer escalations and unnecessary callbacks. Here are five key ways to deliver a low-effort experience: • Track customer effort, not sat- isfaction. Agencies should identify and prioritize improvements that result in the largest loyalty wins. Some organizations have adopted a “customer effort score” as a key performance indicator. • Engineer experiences to reduce customers’ perceived effort. Agencies can make complex interactions feel easier, in part by using activities designed around the principles of behavioral economics. • Solve the customer’s next problem, not just his or her current issue. To avoid repeat contacts that frustrate customers and increase costs, agencies must capture latent issues through ques- tions designed to identify the root cause of potential future service interactions. • Provide a guided resolution experience. Customers should be steered toward the lowest-effort service channel. For example, rather than transmit confidential information via an online chat, the organization should direct the customer to a service channel that is better equipped to handle such communications. • Create a climate that enables and empowers staff. Frontline employees must exercise the judg- ment necessary to deliver tailored, low-effort service interactions with customers. Therefore, organiza- tions must thoughtfully select job candidates, focus on frontline supervisors’ coaching abilities and build a performance management process that rewards the use of good judgment. n Maximizing the effectiveness of customer service To satisfy citizens’ digital demands, agencies should shift their focus from exceeding expectations to improving the customer service experience A key driver of customer satisfaction is the level of effort the customer must exert during a transaction. Commentary | KRIS VAN RIPER AND SCOTT SHERMAN August 15, 2015 FCW.COM 9 0815fcw_009.indd 9 7/27/15 2:48 PM
July 30, 2015
August 30, 2015