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A $4 Trillion Loss: The High Cost of Customer Effort

A $4 Trillion Loss: The High Cost of Customer Effort

Customer effort can be thought of in a few different ways:

  • It is the customer’s own perception of the amount of time and energy that they have to spend in an encounter with you.
  • It is the non-monetary cost of doing business with you.
  • It is relative to both multiple or single interactions with your brand.

But no matter how you choose to see it, the simple fact is that your customers don’t want to work too hard to do business with you. And the more effort required from them, the less likely they are to remain your customers.

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt that customer effort can – and will – have a direct impact on your revenue growth:

  • 81% of customers who have found it necessary to use high effort to complete a transaction intend to share their negative experience with peers.
  • 82% of people describe a recent interaction with a business as having taken too much effort.
  • 64% will stop purchasing products from a brand altogether if they find it too difficult to interact with that brand.

Chief among customer complaints are businesses which (1) have no idea what customers really want or need; (2) do not provide customers opportunities to air grievances or make suggestions; (3) do not proactively find ways to deliver a superior customer experience.

And any business which finds itself in one of these positions risks enormous losses:

  • In 2015, approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise was abandoned in online shopping carts.
  • In recent years, shopping cart abandonment has increased upwards of 74%.
  • About 63% of the revenue these businesses lost could have been recovered had they simply taken steps to provide an experience with less friction.

If you neglect the quality of your experience, your customers – more discerning than ever before – will not think twice about finding a better experience elsewhere. Uncaring, uninformed, and unhelpful customer support can – and will – erode customer trust, your reputation, and your business’s financial health.

Diminished Customer Effort, Increased Profitability

You simply cannot afford to overlook customer effort. But, fortunately, customer effort couldn’t be easier to measure and monitor.

One of the most popular and easiest metrics around is the CES (Customer Effort Score). Here’s how it works.

  • Survey question: “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?”
  • Possible customer responses:Far less than I expected / Slightly less than I expected / About what I expected / Slightly more than I expected / Far more than I expected.”
  • Follow-up question: To dig deeper, businesses typically ask customers to answer a follow-up question, “Why?”

Business that regularly employ the CES as a primary metric report overwhelmingly positive outcomes:

  • Those identified as low-effort experience 40% less churn than those considered high-effort.
  • 88% of customers with low-effort experiences report an intent to increase spending with the business, compared to just 4% who report having had a high-effort experience.
  • Research across 44 industries has found that companies which focus on making the customer experience low effort have seen revenue growth of between 10-15% and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.

For all of these reasons, you can’t afford to not measure customer effort. The CES metric has been proven to be an extremely useful way of finding and fixing issues that make your company difficult to do business with, consequently leading to improvements which will directly impact the long-term financial health of your business.

Ensure Your Business’s Financial Health

The easiest way to frustrate – and lose – your customers is to show them you are incapable of offering an experience which works best for them. And considering that today’s customers are engaging with you in starts and stops across multiple channels – online, social media, phone, email – and devices – tablet, phone, desktop – opportunities to frustrate your customers have never been greater.

It is for this reason that more and more businesses have come to understand that effort must be employed as a key metric. In fact, 89% of businesses now say that customer experience is their primary focus and the main point of differentiation. For these businesses, the effort is not just an optional measurement but, perhaps, the single most important.

Customers want a better, frictionless experience and they will have no problem showing you gratitude via their wallets. As American Express’s Global Customer Service Barometer has found:

  • 74% of consumers have spent more due to a single positive experience.
  • Three out of four consumers have spent more with a business due to a history of good customer service.
  • 68% of consumers state that they are willing to spend more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service

There is no question that providing a superior customer experience is the key to your business’s overall success and profitability. Therefore, measuring customer effort must be a top priority.

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