There are also other efforts -sometimes invisible- like feeling lost or ignorant when reading a product label during the purchase.
Even in the e-shops there are many efforts the customers have to face: sign up, read and confirm the purchase terms and conditions, verify they are a real person by typing weird combinations of numbers and letters, wait for the delivery, be at home when the product arrives, etc.
It’s not only about the efforts in the shop
When we talk about the efforts the customer has to make to reach the solution offered by the company, we can’t only think about those that happen in the physical or digital store. We must take into account the whole the purchasing process, including what comes before and after the moment in the shop.
To facilitate the way to arrive by car, make a packaging that is not terribly difficult to open, or create an accessible and friendly post-sales service are examples of effort reduction beyond the store.
The different dimensions of the efforts
Not all the efforts are of the same nature, or need to be addressed the same way. We propose three dimensions to classify customers’ efforts that might be useful to understand and then try to reduce them with a right approach and given priorities.
- The moment of the effort: in the shop (or e-shop), before or after.
- The way customers feel this effort: it is an objective effort, or rather subjective.
- If there is a relationship with a given customer context: effort caused or increased by that context, or not.
Two examples of efforts according to these two dimensions could be:
In a hypermarket, normally attended by families with kids, there’s not always a playing area for the kids, so parents have to be with them all the time. Nowadays you can frequently see kids running, hear parents shouting, and see their nervous and exhausted faces. This is an example of efforts in the purchasing moment, subjective (they feel overwhelmed by the situation) and linked to the context (tired parents who care about their children).
A person buys a movie streaming service, and when she tries it, she realises it doesn’t work. She calls the post-sales service and they pass her from a teleoperator to another, without getting her problem solved. After half an hour on the phone, she is told she’d better call the next day, because the expert is not there at that moment. This would be an example of an effort after the purchasing moment, objective (she doesn’t get her technical problem solved) and not related to the customer’s context.
Reducing efforts, a key pilar of the customer experience
When the efforts customers have to make during the purchasing process are significantly reduced, there’s an important increase in his/her quality of life at that moment. Therefore, there’s no doubt that it can boost customer’s preference towards the vendor.
Amazon is a clear example of a company that has developed a retail concept whose main engine is the effort reduction when purchasing, applying it to almost every product category.
Furthermore, there are studies that show the companies focusing on reducing their customers’ efforts foster their loyalty more than those that basically focus on delighting them (Dixon, M., Freeman, K. & Toman, N., 2010).
In summary, no matter what the management approach is, it is profitable to allocate resources to reduce efforts, especially the ones perceived as most annoying by the customers.
A practical proposal
To be able to detect most of the efforts customers have to make, we suggest to organise a game: