The myth of easy experiences

By / February 02, 2018

Illustration of road block

 In October, I attended Forrester’s CX Forum in San Francisco and walked away with several examples of how CX methods and tools are driving value for customers and business results. I hope these stories will help CX professionals looking to drive change in their organizations.

Should dating be hard? These days, there are multiple apps and websites dedicated to helping people find the perfect partner, and yet we all know that dating can still be a source of frustration for some. In the past, I would have felt bad for someone who was finding the dating world difficult, but now I only hope it gets tougher for them. Here are my reasons why.

Effort can generate greater loyalty to brands (and maybe to your future spouse!)

In her presentation, Anjali Lai, Senior Data Analyst at Forrester, explored some pervasive myths around customer experiences. One myth in particular, that “easy, automated experiences generate loyalty”, stood out to me.

Lai posited that — although it seems counterintuitive — some experiences that require a lot of effort and provide few opportunities to speed through can leave participants feeling very loyal to the brand. To illustrate her point, she spoke about two popular dating apps — Tinder and The League — and their very different approaches toward online dating.

Tinder is a simple dating app that allows you to swipe right on the profile of a person you’re interested in, or swipe left to see a new profile. Tinder is easy to use and has dominated the market in terms of its user-base. By making the experience amazingly simple and providing an easy-to-use interface they have been rewarded with high sign-up numbers.

A competitor in the dating marketplace is The League.  With The League, users have to fill in a detailed profile and enter a waitlist. After an undefined period on the waitlist, users finally get access to other people’s profiles.  The service requires a lot from its users and makes few promises that their effort will be rewarded — unlike Tinder and other dating apps, The League limits the number of matches users can expect to 3–5 per day.

You might think that this makes Tinder the superior service; however, a deeper look at the numbers shows that only 21% of women and 7% of men respond to their Tinder matches, while close to 100% of Leaguers respond to their messages. The engagement is high for this service because people put value on the effort it took to get in. According to CEO Amanda Bradford, “The selectivity is how you get people to step up their game and get excited about the prospect of online dating, instead of thinking of it as a meaningless game of swiping.” The League stipulates that you’ll get kicked off the service if you’re “flaky” (aka, if you don’t respond to messages) and Leaguers are required to log in every day. Bradford believes that this “makes you value each profile a little more”.  Very different approaches that lead to a different level of audience engagement.

The right type of friction is not always a bad thing for a relationship

As a CX professional, it’s tempting to aim for frictionless experiences that use automation to decrease effort.  However, before you do so, it’s worth considering whether, as the example above has shown, building friction into an experience might sometimes be a good thing.

Recently, we helped a client to understand this when we worked with them on a project that examined the role of financial advisors. The relationship between a financial advisor and their client is important to that client’s financial well-being. I might even be persuaded that a great relationship with a financial advisor is (almost) as important as the one with your spouse!

At the beginning of the project, there was organizational pressure to add automation to the onboarding process in an effort to help advisors. However, after completing research with the advisors themselves, we saw that automation was actually a low priority for the advisors on the front line.  For them, it was more important for their clients to see that they had taken time and completed their due diligence. The initial client conversations and the time it took to collect their history, goals, and other details needed to be significant enough to be considered thoughtful.

We learned that onboarding did not need to be effortless and automatic. As long as the onboarding process was predictable and error free it would suffice for the advisors and clients. Asking clients to put forth a greater effort upfront was part of an overall value proposition of thoughtful goal-setting. Advisors reported that understanding and helping clients achieve their goals was one of the most important factors for driving loyalty.

The key takeaway — when something requires more effort, people can perceive the outcome as being more valuable to them in the long run. When it comes to generating brand loyalty, don’t immediately jump to making the experience easier — consider whether upfront work on behalf of your customer will actually alter their perception of your brand in a more positive way and allow them to see its worth.

Read part one of this series, “Faster isn’t always better – delivering value in customer experiences


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