It’s More of a Customer Obstacle Course than a Journey

March 25, 2016 Sebalis Davis

It’s More of a Customer Obstacle Course than a Journey

Well, it is, according to far too many companies. Of course, as we learned in The Odyssey, journeys aren’t always a walk in the park; they can be arduous. There is never a guarantee that the high seas will be smooth for the entire duration. There are things that we simply cannot control. However, what about unnecessities? It seems as if some companies are unknowingly setting up roadblocks for customers to painfully plow through or take a lot of time to go around. The ABC show Wipeout was hilarious to watch, but what if you stumbled into that situation unwillingly, having to bounce and swim around to reach a solution?

“Customers who indicate more effort… are 61% less likely to repurchase - as compared to the average customer.” (

The continuous acquisition of customers is often seen as a company’s most important duty. The grass is cut and the trees are trimmed when leading up to the front door of a business. While acquisition is imperative, it comes with a cost. According to LinkedIn, it costs “between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one”. In some cases, this figure could be even higher. Even with the costs, companies still “have a greater focus on customer acquisition than retention (44% vs. 16%)” (Econsultancy). With this priority level, are current customers receiving enough attention? What does the landscape look like when inside the premises? In relationships, some can get a bit too comfortable. When one partner isn’t receiving enough attention, they are apt to look elsewhere. Soulmates should be cherished. Why not treat your current customers with the same respect? The journey hasn’t stopped unless they leave!

“You might think that loyalty to a product or company would be driven by something positive like a low price point or a delightful service experience. But no, it appears that the presence or absence of barriers and friction during service and support encounters are the barometers of customer loyalty.” (

When one thinks of customer service, the key word is usually experience, whether good or bad. How was the store experience? Did you have a good buying experience? But, what if we looked at effort instead? In this case, how much effort is a customer putting forth to reach the resolution they seek? Do they need to swim through the Pacific Ocean, scale Everest, and then defeat a tiger in hand-to-hand combat, just to reach the end state they desire? In some cases, customers may prefer these than the obstacles set up along your pathway.

“As it turns out, effort -- how much effort your customer must expend to resolve an issue with you -- is the primary driver for customer loyalty.” (

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Clear the Path with Clarity & Quickness

Be clear and timely, in everything that has the possibility to touch a customer. Whether it is an interaction to solve an issue with a current client, or answering questions for a prospective one, there should be zero miscommunication and minimal lag. Get rid of the big, misleading, and vague words in customer conversations, and make sure that their issues are the priority at all times.

Clear Policies

Does the customer know how your refund policy works? Do they know why it is this way, along with the reasoning for other policies? Is there anything that is prompting a number of questions?  All of your policies should make sense, and be concise as possible. Shorter usually means simpler, so the quicker the customer can figure out what is and isn’t permitted (and why), the better.

Clear Pricing

Whether per user or per service, the pricing model should be understood right away (and all the time if upgrades are available). If a customer has to contact you to clear up any confusion, it becomes frustrating, and right away that relationship starts with bumps and bruises (if it starts at all). Just take a few notes from the entertaining Comcast episode a few years ago.

Ensured Understanding

If a user is in contact regarding an issue, be sure they are fully understood. If there is a hint of a doubt, ask. “They’ll appreciate the effort that you’re putting in to help them thoroughly a lot more than they’ll appreciate an answer to the wrong question.” (Groove) And make sure you’ve answered all of their questions. Overcommunication is a great problem.

Clear Roadmap/Expectations/Next Steps

From setting up their software to establishing an account, there should be a clear road upon which the customer is driving, with a navigator (you) on board giving directions. If there is a chance to take a wrong turn, it probably will happen, undermining the upfront value of your offering(s).

When there is an issue, the customer needs to know right away who should be taking the next step, whether it’s them or the company. More clarity will require less effort to get to the resolution.

This setup should be ever-evolving; it “needs to be updated and validated to keep up with constantly changing user needs, behaviors, technologies and developments in an organization’s proposition.” If it’s established and then left alone, it will grow into a cumbersome assortment of branches to have to swing around.

Quick Communication

“In our fast-paced world, an immediate reply to a customer inquiry will set you above most of the other companies they communicate with via email” (Measure-X). Quick responses give a consumer confidence in the company, and allows them to tend to other things. Tools like Pure Chat, a live chat software platform, give you this ability. ​The potential of gaining/keeping a loyal customer drop by each hour/day it takes for them to receive your answer.

“People are most interested in a hassle-free, friction-free experience… removing barriers to resolution of your customers’ service and support issues not only makes for Customer Wow -- it also makes for customer loyalty.” -

The customer needs to be at the heart of your business

Not just in your thoughts. They should be in a place where things come naturally (your heart). Love your customer if you want them to love you back. Do whatever it takes to ensure that things are as easy as possible for them. Think of yourself as a great husband to a wife who is in the later stages in pregnancy. She isn’t as mobile, and everything is hard. Your job is to help her with everything, no matter how simple or complex -- tie her shoes, get the bread off the top shelf for her, and help her off the couch. Make sure that she is putting forth as little effort as possible to get things done, which will help her to stay comfortable. The better you are, the more she will tell her friends and family what an amazing husband you are. A happy wife makes a happy life, and a happy customer makes a business successful. said it best: “Empires may be built on requiring less effort”.

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About the Author

Sebalis Davis

Sebalis has a passion for solving problems related to user experience, growth, and overall efficiency. He looks forward to educating his forthcoming twin girls all about the business world, as well as instilling the type of fitness culture that he abides by.

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