Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 8

“Effort Beyond the Contact Center”

Non-contact center applications of the Low Effort concept-

Customer Effort in Retail

Most critical factors when it comes to customer effort in retail environment are

“Navigability” – How easy it is for customers to find what they are looking for

“Issue Resolution” – How easy it is for customers to get help solving some problem.

Customer Effort in Product Design

Simplicity of design and ease of use really make certain products stand out in a crowd.

  • Apple’s ease of use is legendary.
  • Bose is another consumer electronics company that just ‘gets’ the idea of low effort. They put simple color-coded tags on wires that match the color of the jacks they plug into. Easy stuff!
  • TurboTax uses intuitive, plain-English, question based approach to helping taxpayers do their taxes.

Customer Effort in Purchase Experience

Decision Simplicity – Simplifying a consumer’s purchase decision

comes down to 3 things-

  • Making it easy for consumers to navigate information about the brand
  • Providing information that is noteworthy
  • Making it simple for consumers to weight their options

Effort should be reduced throughout the customer life-cycle.

Reducing effort in pre- and post-sales customer touch-points has measurable loyalty impact.

***

The Best companies Live low-effort.

Top brands are adopting the principle of a low-effort experience across multiple facets of their business, from product design to the sales experience.

***

My experience Speaking at the WomenTech Global Conference 2021

I had the amazing opportunity to speak at the amazing event that was the WomenTech Global Conference 2021 #WTGC2021. This was a huge event for women in tech, minorities and allies from all over the world

The best part of the event was the interactive platform featuring live ceremonies, keynotes, engaging panels, breakout rooms, country & chapter leader sessions, technical workshops, and networking with face-to-face sessions.

I presented a talk on 8th June, the second day of the conference which was themed as “Inspiration Day”

My talk was about “The Power of Tech Communities” where I discussed-

  • Realising the power of Tech Communities in professionals’ lives
  • Learning to participate, volunteer and contribute to Tech Communities
  • Learning how Tech Communities help Products take their brand forward
  • How can companies build such powerful user communities and leverage their power

I was glad my session had many listeners from all over the world who not only participated along with their comments in the chat, but also left some amazing feedback!

Me speaking at the WomenTech Global Conference – virtual event

Not only this, I was also chosen to moderate 2 very interesting Break-room discussions that were based on impromptu questions asked and voted by all participants. In these discussions, we were able to have informal open discussions, ask questions and share our personal experiences on the chosen topic.

I was able to participate in the week long event and hear many amazing speakers talk about a variety of topics relevant to the industry.

Through this event I was able to connect to many amazing people from all over the world and so many amazing women trying to make a positive impact in the world of tech! I hope to stay connected with this wonderful community for years to come.

A special thanks to Anna Radulovski who reached out to me on Linkedin and invited me to speak at this grand event. She conducted the event with so much passion and grace and kept the energy going throughout the week!

Proud to be a part of an amazing set of speakers!

P.S. I hope to receive the link to a recording of my talk and will update it here soon!

Cheers

Nishi

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 7

“Making Low Effort Stick”

Reducing customer effort represents a cultural shift in how your team engages with customers and how you’ll prioritise the projects you undertake. But while it’s easy to say, any shift of this nature is difficult to accomplish, mainly because change in a large organisation can be an arduous undertaking.

Taking First Steps

Have a compelling ‘change story’ to communicate Why the change is needed, and make the business case of change. It then becomes the backbone of all communication, training, coaching and general reinforcement.

The most Important Change Agents

Focusing efforts on Coaching instead of Training.

Coaching is —

  • Focusing on improving future performance
  • Ongoing
  • Equally driven by coach and coachee
  • Tailored to individual’s development needs

Two types of Coaching tends to occur-

a) Scheduled coaching – sit-down discussions with supervisor to review calls, discuss performance and take corrective action. This might be more punitive than developmental. Over-emphasizing on this type of coaching leads to lower-performing teams.

b) Integrated Coaching – On-the-job coaching, in close proximity to specific customer situations that the coaching is designed to improve. Supervisors who over-emphasize this type of coaching realise a lift of more than 12% in their team’s performance.

The best supervisors focus roughly 75% of their coaching on integrated coaching.

Make It Real

Use creative approaches to help teams quickly understand what qualifies as more or less effort for the customer.

>Sharing of personal customer experiences – Have teams share bad customer service experiences from their personal lives.

>Group quality assurance sessions– Prescreen old customer calls and discuss high effort instances to build awareness and socialise the idea of customer effort reduction.

>Customer Effort Diaries – Get together and share their specific stories – capture specific instances when each person felt they did a great job of reducing effort.

Key Lessons from Early Adopters

Don’t make Effort Reduction another ‘Ask’

Reducing the no. of things frontline staff are being asked to focus on means that they can make effort reduction more of a priority, not just another ask.

The commitment to reducing effort, and the permanence of that approach, needs to become a shift in expectations, not just a new expectation added to the top of the pile.

“In order to get new behaviours to take hold, old behaviours have to be retired”

Baby Steps

  • Start with a small number of ways to reduce effort to make the shift more tangible to your teams.
  • This way, people know precisely what to do, and they develop a more refined sense for how effort reduction works.
  • Supervisors also have a finite set of behaviours to coach for.

Narrowly scope initial pilot expectations for your teams. This may include forward-resolving a specific type of service issue, or using positive language techniques for some common issues.

Lay the Cultural Foundation

Effort reduction is not a quick-hit project. It is service philosophy.

****

Reducing effort is an ongoing challenge you will need to continuously support.

You need lots of top-down communication, good manager and supervisor support, and the right metrics.

Your priorities should be a great change story, significant coaching discipline, and clearly signalling the expectation that a low-effort experience should be the goal with every customer.

Making it easy for your teams to take the first steps towards reducing effort will ensure your likelihood of success!

****

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 6

The Disloyalty Detector – Customer Effort Score v2.0

Measuring customer effort shines a spotlight on the service experience and can bring new levels of claity to what we can do to improve it.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is a poor predictor of a customer’s intent to repurchase and to increase spend.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is a ‘big question’ that captures a customer’s holistic impression of their relationship with a company. The problem is it isn’t the best metric for understanding customer service performance at a transactional level.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES gives managers a simple way to understand whether they have accomplished low-effort experience from one interaction to the next, across different channels and divisions in their organisations , and over time. And, importantly, it offers a way to immediately spot customers at risk of defection.

CES metric is based on a statement “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue”

This is a survey question asked to the user at the end of an interaction. This new question CES v2.0 is more reliable and is less prone to misinterpretation as compared to CES v1.0 statement “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to get your issue resolved?”

When comparing CES v2.0 to CSAT, the effort measure is 12% more predictive of customer loyalty.

Systemically Finding and Eliminating Drivers of Effort

A robust customer effort measurement system consists of 3 parts –

Connecting Company Loyalty goals with Customer Service Strategy and Objectives

Effort should be measured consistently across channels and the sources of effort systematically monitored. This will allow your service org to continually determine ways ri positively impact enterprise loyalty objectives.

Use CES to assess the ease of resolution in post-service surveys. CES provides a powerful indicator of transactional customer loyalty, clearly highlights friction points n the customer experience, and helps companies to spot customers at risk of defection due to high-effort interactions.

**

Use an effort-measurement system. While CES is a powerful tool, there is no silver bullet when it comes to measuring customer effort.

The best companies collect data at multiple levels and from multiple sources to understand not just whether customer effort is happening, but also the root causes of effort.

**

I am speaking at ‘WomenTech Global Conference’

I am super excited to share that I have been invited to speak at the upcoming WomenTech Global Conference – The Largest Conference for Women in Tech!

Scheduled for June 7-11 2021, this virtual conference will bring women in tech, minorities and allies from all over the world together through an interactive platform platform featuring live ceremonies, keynotes, engaging panels, breakout rooms, country & chapter leader sessions, technical workshops, and networking with face-to-face sessions. Bringing together +100000 women in tech from 181 countries hosting 500+ speakers and mentors! https://www.womentech.net/women-tech-conference

My session will be on “The Power of Tech Communities”

Check out my speaker page and session details here :

In my talk, I will discuss how we can leverage the power of tech communities in our career and personal growth? And since nothing drives a brand forward more than its community! So, how can companies create and leverage such tech communities to their product’s advantage and to delight their users.

Interested? Register now at – https://shop.womentech.net/

Cheers

Nishi

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 5

To Get Control, You have to Give Control

For the company and its strategic financial interest, a lot is riding on the skills and abilities of each and every rep in the front.

So, the most common people-management strategy is to minimize the risk by keeping a very tight rein on everything, including companies mandating the exact words each rep must use in all interactions, looking at Average Handle Time(AHT), employing checklists for Quality Assurance (QA) and dictating their every move.

But these strategies of yesterday’s successful companies are fast becoming antiquated and are. no longer sufficient and even actively harmful.

The fourth pillar in creating a world-class customer experience is that low-effort service organisations run their operations very differently and manage their people very differently.

In a low-effort service org, reps determine for themselves how best to handle the unique issue being experienced by this unique person.

80.5% of service orgs say their rep performance has not improved noticeably over the past couple of years. The main questions here are-

  • How can companies position their reps for success in today’s world?
  • If we want to deliver a low-effort experience, what skills matter most?

The List of skills clustered into four statistically defined categories –

IQ
Advanced Problem Solving

Curious
Creative
Capable of Critical Thinking
Experimental
3.6 % improvement in CSAT or in Net Promoter Score
Basic Skills and Behaviors
Demonstrates Product Knowledge
Demonstrates Technological experience
Communicates confidently, clearly
Asks good questions
Capable of multi-tasking
5.1% better performance
EQ
Emotional Intelligence

Has customer service ethic
Extroverted
Advocates for the customer
Persuasive
5.4% performance boost
CQ
Control Quotient

Resilient
Able to handle high-pressure situations
Takes responsibility of own actions
Responds well to constructive criticism by managers
Able to concentrate on tasks over extended periods of time
11.2% increase in Rep’s performance!
Performance Impact of Rep Skill Categories

The impact of CQ is abundantly clear. It is what it takes not just to engage with one customer, but to be able to disengage immediately afterward to be fully effective with the next person. Quit Taking It Personally!

Boosting CQ

It’s not the training. It’s not the people. It’s the work environment those people are subjected to on a daily basis that enables higher rep performance, a lower-effort customer experience, and ultimately loyalty benefits for the company.

3 distinct keys to unlocking CQ

Trust in rep judgement

This has 14% impact on CQ.

Do your employees feel trusted?

Customers have different personalities, needs and expectations. When a company mandates that every customer call include standard, company-imposed criteria or questions, it eliminates the natural, spontaneous, human level interaction and replaces with a mechanical, rote exchange.

So, instead we need to

a) Eliminate the Checklist Mentality

b) Remove the Pressure of Time

Rep understanding and alignment with company goals

Employees are more likely to exhibit ‘discretionary effort’ if they understand the connection between their everyday work and the overall big-picture mission of the organisation.

Reps who understand exactly how customer service ties directly to customer loyalty, which ties directly to strategic and financial outcomes are more likely to take control over their own individual interactions.

A strong rep peer support network

This has a 17% impact on CQ but is also the hardest to achieve.

3 conditions for maximum benefits of peer support to be realised:

  1. Adequate time – Make it easy. to help & support each other. It is a part of job and not a burden.
  2. True Best-practice sharing – Share how best to serve customers in complex situations, not suboptimal shortcuts or work arounds
  3. Receptive reps – Enable reps to help each other without being controlled by management to ensure better receptivity.

CQ isn’t learned, it is enabled.

Most reps already have moderate to high CQ potential. The problem is that most companies inhibit it due to an environment of strict adherence- Judgement and Control are not welcomed in these environments.

“Give control to get control of the front line.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 4

“Just because there’s Nothing You can Do Doesn’t Mean there’s Nothing you can Do”

The customer’s perception of the experience actually accounts for fully two-thirds of the overall effort equation. Means that how the customer perceives / feels about the interaction matters twice as much as what they actually have to do during the interaction!

A lot of interactions that don’t require a lot of exertion still feel like a lot of effort to customers.

Service orgs might be handling “easy” situations in the wrong way far too often.

Effort – is one-third “do” and two-thirds “feels”

Don’t over-invest in streamlining the physical side of the service experience. Instead, focus on the interpretation or “feel” side of the effort!

Soft Skills

Definition – A code of behavior created to consistently handle customer issues in a friendly, personable, and professional manner that reflects positively on the representative and the company.

They are not a choice or an option – to be applied with every caller, every time.

But Soft skills alone are not enough to move the needle on effort reduction.

In comes –

Experience Engineering

Definition- An approach to actively guide a customer through an interaction that is designed to anticipate the emotional response and preemptively offer solutions that create a mutually beneficial resolution.

‘Experience Engineering’ – means managing a conversation with carefully selected language designed to improve how the customer interprets what they’re being told.

So, sound experience engineering is designed to

  • Anticipate the emotional response of the customer.
  • Preemptively offer solutions that the customer will find agreeable.
  • Finding a mutually beneficial resolution to customer issues.
  • Mainly – when the customer is going to be told they cannot have exactly what they are asking for – easing them into the answer.
  • Arriving at true win-win outcome instead of paying customers with lavish givebacks!

Most companies’ initial forays into effort reduction are aimed at reducing customer exertion.

Can experience engineering be taught ? – Many companies are teaching their reps to do this in ways that are simple to understand and easy even for relatively inexperienced staff to use.

Reframing “No”

Using positive Language. Be truthful, but in a way that doesn’t trigger negative emotional reaction.

“Don’t tell the customers what you can’t do, tell them what you can do”

Positioning Alternatives with Customer benefits

Ask more questions. Do not put them on hold. Find the real motivations of the customer beyond the explicitly stated need. Work with them to present alternates.

  • Don’t be so fast with the “no”
  • Don’t encourage reps to try to explain their way out of a high effort situation.
  • Don’t take the customer’s request quite so literally.

Of those customers whose first request cannot be fulfilled, approximately 10% simply refuse to engage further. The rep does their best to suggest potential alternates using positive language skills. But if they don’t engage, it is the customer’s loss.

Among the remaining requests, a very high percentage of customers are willing to at least consider and even accept a different solution. And it can be achieved by a rep willing to keep the positive momentum going – buying time to learn more about the customer and not going straight to a ‘no’.

Personality-Based Issue Resolution

identify the basic personality characteristics of each customer in the moment, and tailor the interaction to that customer.

Personality Type
ProfileCharacteristic Traits
Actions to do
Feeler
Leads with emotional needs
“I need to feel good about my next steps”
Cooperative
Sensitive
Loyal
Invite their opinion
Provide Assurance
Show personal involvement
EntertainerLoves to talk and show-off their personality.
“Let’s have some fun”
Outgoing
Enthusiastic
Spontaneous
Maintain informal tone
Mention personal information
Focus on the ‘big picture’
ThinkerNeeds to analyse and understand
Take the time to fully explain the what and the why
Analytical
Thorough
Serious
Do not interrupt
Explain processes
Slow down conversation
ControllerJust wants what they want, when they want it
“Let’s cut to the chase”
Independent
Candid
Determined
Directly address issue
Speed up the pace of conversation
Provide clear timeline for result
Bradford & Bingley’s Personality framework

Introduction to ERP Testing and its Importance

<This is a guest post by Sohaib Zaidi>

In this era of cut-throat competition, global enterprises are facing tremendous pressure to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, increase sales and profitability. For this, more and more enterprises are embracing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. Apart from enabling enterprises to make accurate, informed and strategic decisions, ERP also helps them to stay compliant. Though the benefits of introducing cloud ERP solutions to your business are countless, yet these benefits come with several challenges.

Enterprises that have already embraced cloud are struggling to keep pace with the frequency of ERP software updates. ERP vendors like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce, etc are rolling out new releases and patches on monthly, quarterly, or biannually. Since cloud updates are rolled out at quick succession, enterprises are finding it hard to quickly test the updates and deploy these to production. Here arises the need of ERP testing

Why is it necessary to test ERP updates before deployment to production?

ERP updates bring new features and functionality, customer enhancement requests, and patches from previous releases. These updates need to be tested regressively since there are chances that they can impact a variety of functions that may cause disruption to business continuity. So, it is always recommended that before rolling out the ERP updates, QA teams should test critical business processes, validate reports, key workflows and test critical integrations with other applications.

Though manual application testing approach is still prevalent but it cannot be considered as a reliable solution in case of ERP testing. To understand this better, let us discuss an example of Oracle ERP. Oracle rolls out quarterly updates. These updates are first introduced to non-production environments. Oracle offers two weeks’ time to test these updates and raise issues. After two weeks, these get applied to the production environment. So, performing Oracle testing manually for these updates is non-feasible. Apart from time-consuming, manual testing is error prone, fragile and costly. Another disadvantage associated with manual testing is that it can adversely impact business continuity due to limited test coverage and its inability to identify change impact.

Embrace Automation Testing for seamless cloud adoption

Test automation not only reduces testing time of complex ERP systems but also ensures robust software quality. The biggest perks associated with test automation are maximum accuracy with minimum efforts, quick feedback, accelerated results, lower costs, and maximum coverage. Most of the test automation tools perform post release impact analysis to identify the impacted areas. Based on the impact assessment, QA teams can generate most relevant tests to execute validation. This not only defines the accurate testing scope but also delivers wider coverage which is not possible while performing manual testing.

When enterprises use test automation for security testing and constant maintenance, they get the opportunity to easily recognize defects. This approach significantly reduces vulnerabilities, helping enterprises to keep huge losses at bay. Automated testing also helps enterprises to overcome challenges of drowsy routine procedures crop up due to manual testing. Leveraging test automation tools, enterprises can accelerate routine procedures that consume time and cost to ensure a quick turnaround and superior ROI.

Author – Sohaib Zaidi – in his own words-
 
I am a technology enthusiast and professional writer with experience across niches like digital transformation, AI, IoT, & test automation. I love to write technology in simple tone so that readers can easily understand how embracing technology can deliver greater outcomes.    

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 3

“The Worst Question a Service Rep can ask”

Repeat contacts are the single biggest driver of customer effort.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is used to help assess performance. CCompanies regularly boast FCR rates of 70-8-% or higher. But when you ask customers how well companies are doing, you get a completely different answer (about 40% resolution in the first contact)

So, it turns out that the concept of FCR fails to account for the host of other related issues that cause customers to call back.

Implicit issues transcend the original customer-stated need. These repeat contacts happen fir two main reasons-

Adjacent Issues – downstream issues that might seem unrelated at first, but are ultimately connected to the main issue.

Experience Issues – emotional triggers that cause a customer to second-guess the answer given, or double check to see if another answer exists.

Going Beyond First Contact Resolution

Next issue Avoidance – Companies need to arm reps with shareper diagnostic skills and tools that can help them “forward-resolve” the next likely customer issue.

Companies trying to improve next issue avoidance (not just FCR) should track callbacks- any repeat contact by the customer, within a specified time period.

Rules – to balance the simplicity of forward resolution with effectiveness and avoiding confusion that forward resolution of adjacent issues might create-

Rule #1: Down One, Not Two – Trying to forward-resolve more than one step at a time might overwhelm the customer. Stick to one – only the immediate adjacent issue.

Rule #2: Pick Winners – Adjacent issues have to occur at least 20% of the time to qualify for forward resolution.

Rule #3: Don’t forward-resolve complex issues on the phone – For more complex issues, instead of confusing customers trying to explain over a phone call, follow up over a simple e-mail with details.

Measuring Next Issue Avoidance

Simple Metric – Track repeat calls from any customer within a seven-day period.

Points to Remember:

  • Don’t just solve the current issue, head off the next issue.
  • Measure callbacks, not just first contact resolution (FCR). The best companies also assess whether the rep solved the stated customer issue, as well as forward-resolved adjacent and experience-related follow-up issues.

Read Along – ‘The Effortless Experience’- Chapter 2

“Why your customers don’t want to talk to you”

  • 58% of call volume comes from customers who were on your website first, but still ended up having to call.
  • Customers who attempt to self-serve but are forced to pick up the phone are 10 % more disloyal than the ones who were able to resolve their issue on the portal of their choice.
  • The challenge is not getting the customers to self-serve , but to avoid channel-switching from self-service to phone call.
  • Companies believe that their customers want some kind of personal relationship with them. But the reality is that the customers already value the web as much if not more than the phone!

Self service places the customer in control, particularly when information that is confidential or potentially embarrassing might be exchanged.

The balance in favor of phone service even on the older age groups is far close to 60:40, rather than 90:10 or 80:20 ratio as many of us would have guessed. So, even customers who are the last to adopt self-service are much further along than most of us would have imagined.

The Channel Stickiness Opportunity

When it comes to how information is presented on the web, simplicity matters a lot.

It all starts with a simple question.

Examining three big channel-switching categories and ways to overcome those:

Category #1: Customers Couldn’t Find the Information they needed

Too many options put in front of customers exacerbate the channel-switching problems.

Customers are best-served by being directed to the lowest-effort channel and options to resolve their issue, even if that channel would not have been their first choice.

Ways to guide customers-

Ways to guide customers

Category #2 The Customer found the Information, but it was unclear

When customers who are trying to solve a problem don’t understand what they’re reading on a web site, they click the “contact us” button and end up calling.

Make sure your website and the content makes sense to the people on the outside as much as on the inside of your company.

Gunning Fog Index

Introduced in the 1950s, it is a benchmark for language simplicity. The scoring represents the years of education a person would need to comprehend a piece of text.

Use an online version to calculate the index for content on your website http://gunning-fog-index.com/

Rules to improve your website-

Rule 1 – Simplify Language

Rule 2 – Eliminate null search results

Rule 3 – Chunk related information

Rule 4 – Avoid jargon

Rule 5 – Use active voice

Category #3 The Customer was simply looking for a phone number

For customers who visit the website just to obtain a phone number, there are some subtle things that can be done to productively engage them.

  • Feature prominent links to the most common questions asked.
  • Move the contact us from th etop to th ebottom right of the screen.
  • Add to your knowledge base with words lie “simple”, “step-by-step” and “tips” to engage the newbies.

However, it is far better to incentivise self-service than to overtly discourage live service usage, or trying to hide the phone number.

The key to mitigating channel switching is simplifying the self-service experience.