The High Cost of Customer Inconvenience: Gradual (Then Sudden) Failure

Seth Godin might not be a household name for most people, but in the marketing world, he’s widely-known through his books, speaking engagements and blog. Which is why this blog headline caught my attention back in January: “Gradually and then suddenly.”

What Godin was referring to is the way companies and brands die. The curtain seems to drop quickly, whether through bankruptcy (think GM), liquidation (the Hostess Brands are a great example) or simply disappearing (remember Gleem toothpaste?). But when you look closer, it’s usually a gradual series of missteps or strategic blunders that lead to that “sudden” demise.

Customer experience is where this often happens–where businesses gradually lose ground, then suddenly wonder why revenue and profits plummet. In fact, as we documented in some of our own research–the Avaya Customer Effort Impact Study: The Cost of Inconvenience–long on-hold wait times, circuitous IVR menus, and having to repeat information multiple times are just some of the many little inconveniences that add up over time, and lead to dissatisfaction, disloyalty and ultimately, defection to other brands.

Related article: Big Data, Big Value, Big Leap Forward for Customer Experience

Consumers are getting more fickle and demanding every day, and the number of options they have to get things done seems to be growing all the time. Convenience and simplicity are things we all need to take very seriously. When we surveyed consumers, we asked what interactions they viewed as high effort and most frustrating. Based on their responses, it’s clear that businesses need to refine customer experiences to be simpler and more intelligent.

Fortunately, there are many things organizations can do now to achieve those objectives, including reducing the steps customers need to take to get things done, not making callers repeat themselves, anticipating customer needs and being more proactive to meet them.

In his blog, Godin astutely points out that the “gradual, then sudden” phenomenon works both ways: A series of little conveniences, strung together consistently over time, can drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately, excellent lifetime customer value.

In your role, what one action could you take in the next 30 days to reduce your customers’ effort?

Read the study: The Cost of Inconvenience

Cory Glover, Avaya

This article was a guest post from Cory Glover, the Senior Manager of Solutions Marketing for Avaya’s Customer Experience Management solutions. Currently, Cory leads marketing for Avaya’s industry-leading Automated Experience Management and Proactive Engagement solutions.

He has more than 15 years of experience in communications consulting, engineering, and solutions and product management. During his tenure with Avaya, he has led go-to-market activities in Avaya’s data networking, wireless, unified communications and contact center portfolios. Prior to Avaya, Cory held leadership positions in the U.S. Submarine Navy, Texas Instruments and Lucent Technologies.

Cory holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Purdue University and an MBA from Babson College.