Are You Easy? How to Drive Loyalty by Reducing Customer Effort

When I was in high school, no one wanted to be described as “easy.” However, an “easy” customer experience is a different story!

Let’s take a quick look at customer ease, how to measure effort, when to measure it, and why some customer effort can be positive.

Overview of Customer Effort

In 2008, the US Corporate Executive Board started researching the connection between customer effort and key performance indicators. That research was shared in an often-cited 2010 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article titled “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” To make it easy for you, here’s the essence of the research

According to conventional wisdom, customers are more loyal to firms that go above and beyond. But our research shows that exceeding their expectations during service interactions (for example, by offering a refund, a free product, or a free service such as expedited shipping) makes customers only marginally more loyal than simply meeting their needs…When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily. … Telling frontline reps to exceed customers’ expectations is apt to yield confusion, wasted time and effort, and costly giveaways. Telling them to “make it easy” gives them a solid foundation for action.

How and Why of Customer Effort Measurement

To assess customer ease, the authors of the HBR article recommend that business leaders use the Customer Effort Scale (CES)

It’s beyond the scope of this post to provide an in-depth review of the benefits of measuring CES but let me offer two rather powerful findings from Gartner:

Ninety-six percent of customers with a high-effort service interaction become more disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience.

 A low-effort interaction costs 37% less than a high-effort interaction. Low-effort experiences reduce costs by decreasing up to 40% of repeat calls, 50% of escalations and 54% of channel switching.

In next week’s installment, I’ll share when to measure customer effort along their journey with you and why some customer effort can be a good thing.

To learn more about our team, please visit To speak to me about your CX journey, please go to

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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