By now, you probably know my perspective on customer success vs. customer support.

They are two completely different things.

That said, I believe we can improve customer success by applying truths from other disciplines, like customer support, sales, marketing, and even product management.

Matt Dixon uncovers one such truth in his book, The Effortless Experience.

The main idea in the book is that we should stop aiming to delight our customers and focus instead on reducing their effort.

For many customer success leaders, this is heresy.

Those who grew up in professional services or support organizations are taught to go "above and beyond" for customers.

But Dixon's research proves that over-the-top support experiences don't necessarily drive customer loyalty, retention, or advocacy.

Delightful experiences don't drive loyalty.

In the research behind the book, Dixon and his team evaluated over 75,000 customer service interactions and came up with some surprising statistics such as the following:

Twenty percent of the “satisfied” customers in our study said they intended to leave the company in question; 28% of the “dissatisfied” customers intended to stay.

(excerpt from HBR article linked below, "Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers")

They also found that only 25% of customers with a positive customer support experience were likely to share it. Compare that to the 65% who were likely to share a negative experience.

To net it out, customer service experiences are a liability for companies with primarily downside risk on customer loyalty and advocacy.

According to the data, customers are four times more likely to become disloyal to a company after a service interaction than to become more loyal.

Startling revelations indeed.

Understanding customer preferences

At the root of all the research is this little nugget:

81% of the time, customers attempted to solve a problem themselves before reaching out to the company for help.

Contacting the vendor was the last resort for the customer.

That means our support reps are playing from behind in most cases because the customer is already frustrated by the time they call customer support.

Add in transfers, repetitive questions, unresolved issues forcing callbacks, and a generic approach to solving the customer's problem, and it's easy to see why the customer could be left dissatisfied and disloyal.

Note: This is not meant to indict customer support teams. In my experience, one of the keys to building an effective success practice is to back it up with a solid customer support function.

What does this have to do with customer success?

While customer success and support differ, the universal customer experience truth remains: customers want and need low-effort relationships.

With this truth in mind, have you considered the areas of your customer journey that could use a customer effort tune-up?

Here are some examples to consider:

  • Making customers regurgitate all of their information to the onboarding team after spending 60 days with an account exec in the sales cycle. Then making them do it again after implementation and customer success takes over.
  • Making the customer make too many decisions they don't understand during implementation vs. providing intelligent and prescriptive defaults.
  • Asking customers for feedback and survey responses with no intention of closing the loop with them.
  • Asking customers to join meetings that we want but they don't need. As Scott Morris said on LinkedIn, "...they don't want to meet with us as much as we think they do... and certainly not as much as we do."
  • Confusing customers with too many points of contact, as Catherine Robles points out, "When there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and it is left to the client to remember, and get right, who to reach out to for what. Ending in [a game of] hot potato because 'this is not my responsibility, let me connect you with X.'"
  • They are leaving champions to build their own data-driven story about your product's value for their internal stakeholders vs. providing them with a presentation template and data supporting the business case.

Chris Anderson nailed it with a few more examples on LinkedIn:

  • Preparing for calls, e.g., no clear/compelling agenda with pre-read, intended outcomes, etc., sent by the CSM ahead of calls.
  • Having to think about how to message internal stakeholders why something isn't working as expected with a solution (e.g., a bug, outage, product shortcoming).
  • Analyzing product usage data to derive actionable insights and then putting that data into a narrative to share period updates with internal stakeholders or the broader team on the business impact of the solution.
  • Proactively managing action items that come out of customer meetings.

Sarah Blocker brought it home with a couple more good ones,

  • Frequent, ineffective, and sometimes LENGTHY meetings where we (the vendor) ask for feedback and insight into customers' business but don't do anything to close the feedback loop. The quantity of time in meetings and more touchpoints without using info gathered does not improve CX.
  • Assuming we (the vendor) are the primary focal area for customers. Taking time away from their day job priorities/objectives to meet OUR product/services timelines.

And, of course, all of those support cases that require multiple tries to resolve

.We can do better

We can do better, and we must.

What's one interaction you could make simpler for your customers?


💡 Weekly Favorites

Here are some of my favorite podcasts, blogs, and videos from the week:

Enjoy, and see you next Sunday.

Do you want to share this issue of via text, social media, or email? Just copy and paste this link: