7 Low-hanging Ways to Reduce Customer Effort

Larry Barker Larry Barker · 6 min read

You can improve your customer experience without breaking the bank. These easy ways to reduce customer effort are a great place to start.

Your customer experience needs an overhaul, but you don’t have the budget or developers to make it happen.

Your helpdesk needs replacing, but you don’t have the expertise to migrate over all of your historical data.

You want to better understand trends in your support tickets, but you’re reliant on your data team to complete an in-depth analysis.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Most support leaders resonate with challenges like these. They’re frustrating because every support leader wants to keep improving their customers’ experience. It’s easy to feel discouraged.

But I’ve got good news: there are plenty of things you can do to incrementally improve your customer experience without a large resource commitment.

Making small changes to reduce customer effort can improve customer loyalty and satisfaction and can help your company’s leadership team understand why it makes sense to invest in customer experience.nicereply blog

Why customer effort matters

There may not be many guarantees in life, but there definitely are a few in customer service.

Here’s one: I guarantee your customers hate when you make them work hard for something that should be easy.

Customer expectations are changing quickly. Your customers expect you to understand what they need and expect from your product and company. Your marketing promises your product can do something and your customers expect you to deliver on those promises. When there are issues, they expect quick and effective support from your customer service team.

Measuring customer effort is a great way to understand how you can make things easier for your customers. Customer Effort Score (CES) is a strong predictor of customer loyalty. That means reducing customer effort results in lower churn and happier customers.

If you’re a support leader, reducing customer effort may be the single best way you can help your business grow. Here are seven low-hanging ways to reduce customer effort in your organization

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Make your contact info visible and human help easy to reach

Remember the last time you were stuck in an endless phone menu when trying to call support? How about the last time you were stuck talking to a chatbot and couldn’t get the help you needed?

Tools like chatbots and IVRs (phone routing systems) can be a great way to reduce customer effort, but they can also create major frustration.

To avoid this frustration and decrease customer effort, find ways to make it easier for customers to get human help when needed. Over 60% of them are probably trying to resolve their issue on their own before reaching out, so once they’ve decided they need to contact you don’t force them to jump through a bunch more hoops.

In a world where everything is becoming automated, simply making it easy to get a human on the phone or on chat can make your company stand out from the crowd.

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Adopt your grandma’s point of view

Odds are that you’re far more comfortable with technology than your grandparents are. There are always exceptions (like this), but by and large it’s generally safe to assume that younger people are more tech savvy than older people.

Recognizing this reality enables you to adopt a different perspective as you think about your customer experience. Start by asking yourself this question: What are the most common things people need to do within your product?

Once you’ve created a list of items, ask yourself if your grandmother could accomplish those tasks. Where would she get tripped up? What steps might she struggle with? What assumptions have you made?

Questions like these will help you uncover points of confusion or friction for your customers that you can then improve.nicereply blog

Update your templates and help articles

Most support teams have a long list of templates and macros they use to speed up the work of helping customers. Hopeful you’re also offering self-service options like a help center or knowledge base that empowers customers to answer their own questions.

The biggest challenge with these kinds of tools is that they can quickly grow outdated.

If you don’t have a process for regularly updating documentation like templates and help articles, over time they’ll become less useful to your customers. Every new product release could make things worse.

A quick and relatively easy way to reduce effort for your customers is to make sure all of your documentation is up-to-date and accurate.

Accurate and helpful documentation—including current screenshots or illustrative gifs—help customers take necessary action quickly and easily. Outdated documentation leads customers astray and creates unnecessary frustration.

Most support teams own documentation for their help center and help desk, so getting started on this might be as easy as blocking out some time on your calendar today.nicereply blog

Get a co-browsing tool

You love your customers. But they’re probably great at explaining issues in ways that don’t always make sense to your support team.

Whether it’s using the wrong terms or repeating the same thing over and over, unclear communication can get in the way of resolving customer issues.

Co-browsing tools like Glance or Cobrowse.io eliminate this confusion and make getting help way easier for your customers. They allow your support team to see exactly what your customer is seeing in real-time, making it easy to understand exactly what the issue is.

From there, your team can easily guide customers through your product to help them accomplish their goals.nicereply blog

Mystery shop your support experience

Mystery shopping is a research technique that companies use to measure the quality of their customer service. It’s common in brick-and-mortar stores—like those at your local shopping mall—but it’s something you can also do with your customer experience.

Mystery shopping can be a great way to uncover opportunities to improve your support experience. You’re putting yourself in your customers’ shoes.

It can be as simple as walking through each stage of your customer journey as if you were a customer. Submit a support ticket. Reset your password. Submit a feature request.

If you’re like many support leaders, it’s probably been awhile since you’ve done each of these things firsthand. Mystery shopping may be a very eye-opening experience!nicereply blog

Leverage chatbots

I mentioned earlier that chatbots can cause a lot of customer frustration. That’s very true, but they can also be a great way to reduce customer effort when they’re used strategically. There are a few reasons why:

  1. They’re always available. Sure, you could offer 24/7 human support. But maybe that’s not viable for your business. A chatbot gives you the ability to provide real-time support 24/7.
  2. They’re fast. Your customers want you to value their time. Chatbots can provide instant help for your customers’ most frequently asked questions.
  3. They’re great at handling large volumes. Your human agents can only help so many customers at once. Chatbots give you a way to quickly scale up and handle large volumes of incoming customer questions.

Here’s the catch: Chatbots aren’t great at understanding context or reading between the lines. They don’t know when to hold strictly to a policy and when to make an exception.

They also aren’t always great at understanding sentiment (although they’re quickly improving).

If you want to use chatbots to reduce customer effort—without increasing frustration—only rely on chatbots where it makes sense.

For simple and repetitive questions, chatbots are a great fit. Instead of requiring a customer to wait for a live agent or an email response, a chatbot might be able to handle the question virtually immediately.

But for complex or technical questions, they’re probably a bad idea.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it once again for those in the back: Always make it easy for customers to escalate from a chatbot to a human support agent.nicereply blog

Collaborate with your Product and Engineering teams

The last low-hanging way to reduce customer effort requires prioritizing internal relationships within your company. While it might not seem like it has a direct impact on customer effort, building strong relationships between Support and Product or

Engineering is critical building a better customer experience.

Your customer experience encompasses all of your customers’ interactions with your brand and product, and your Product and Engineering teams build most of those touchpoints.

By building a strong and collaborative relationship with these teams, you’ll have a more influential voice into how the future of your product is shaped.

You’ll be better positioned to advocate for your customers. You’ll be able to provide feedback based on customer interactions. You may even be able to facilitate setting up customer interviews for your Product team.

While it might seem a bit counterintuitive, asking a Product Manager or Front-End Developer to meet for coffee may be the key to making life better for your customers in the coming months.nicereply blog

Take action wherever you’re able

Incremental changes often aren’t glamorous. They’re not sexy. They don’t attract a lot of attention or applause.

But by consistently taking action on low-hanging opportunities, you’ll be building momentum. As you invest in changes like the ones mentioned above, you’ll find they snowball into a much-improved customer experience over time.

How did you like this blog?


Larry Barker Larry Barker

Larry uses his decade of customer experience leadership to create content for CX-focused companies. He writes on a broad range of topics, all with the aim of helping human-centered companies attract the right customers and empower them to be successful. He owns  Supported Content and you can find him on Twitter.

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