It’s not just the customer’s journey that matters, but the effort in it

The challenge for companies is to tie disparate systems together to create this view and then define the WACE treatment parameters.

I have taken a number of fulfilling hikes in my time. There is fulfilment in completing a challenging hike for its sense of accomplishment. A short 2-mile hike up a grade with many challenges provides that sense of victory where a 5-mile walk on the level ground seems – well – pedestrian. This is the antithesis of the customer journey.

As the customer takes a journey, many companies measure the length of the experience. I would put forth that even a shorter journey could drive higher dissatisfaction as the effort in the experience is greater. As an example, the experience with a single representative who is engaged and handling all of your concerns can be quite enjoyable. Conversely, a short interaction where multiple touchpoints are needed including transfers and referrals to self-service can be frustrating leaving customers asking why is anything this difficult.

Ultimately, how do you truly gauge and act on effort? It’s not enough just to measure time, but effort. To achieve this one needs a full view of all touchpoints. What was the effort on the app, the web, the IVR, the live agent or store interaction – compiling all these disparate experiences and weighting them drives insight into customer emotion toward the brand. The journey that includes a transfer or a dead-end process should be weighted higher than others. This weighted average customer effort (WACE) scoring is key to defining the correlation to satisfaction that will occur. The correlations of effort and emotion to repurchase and NPS are higher exceeding .8 for many studies.

Measuring this WACE needs to be aligned to the environment and in real-time. Also, being able to act on effort while it happens will drive increased repurchase and satisfaction. Picture this, a customer went to the app to change an account feature, then later that day tries again, then goes to the web then calls the IVR and gets transferred twice to finally get the feature changed. Two weeks later the NPS of the customer comes in via survey and is poor. Even worse, the customer isn’t or doesn’t complete the survey and the company doesn’t know the dissatisfaction exists.

Envision the alternative, the customer goes to the app and is unable to complete it, then tries again, then hits the web and then calls, the IVR now recognizes that the technical feature was the reason for the app and web interactions and sends directly to tier 2 tech support agent. The agent sees the effort score highlighted as yellow or red and the reason for those app and web attempts. The agent is then prepared to proactively engage on the issue without the usual ‘what are you calling for’ conversation. Agent resolves and logs the customer resolution which then feeds back to the company’s operational oversight. A customer walks away with the perception that the company may not be perfect (app and web issue) but they are prepared to recover and improve.

Customer Effort is removed from transfer. Future customer’s effort is improved by acting on the real-time high WACE information to resolve app and web issues. IVR proactively handles the high WACE interactions intelligently. Agent satisfaction increases as their cognitive load are eased by knowing the journey taken so far and likely issue.

The scenarios for this abound across the multichannel environment of the customer journey today. The challenge for companies is to tie disparate systems together to create this view and then define the WACE treatment parameters. The companies who do this will succeed past their peers as customer loyalty increases.

Steve Layer

Steve Layer

Steve is a customer experience professional with over 25 years of experience delivering excellence across the financial, telecommunications, and hospitality industries. He currently leverages his experience assisting companies to increase sales, customer retention, and make interactions more effortless.


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