Why customer effort is more important than time to resolution

quick answers or good answers

The problem with measuring the speed of customer support.

Speed will not increase loyalty, reduced efforts will.

Why do you measure the speed of the replies in customer support? It’s because surveys show that customers want quick answers.
Some might think a customer will be satisfied if the reply is quick enough. The big question is, will the customer be satisfied if you measure the speed of the answers in customer support?
reduce efforts

A common problem: First contact resolution shows misleading information

A common problem when it comes to first contact resolution is that the agents tend to close the ticket fast, only to gain good figures. The customer has to re-open the ticket or create a new one. (I was thinking we should remove the function to re-open a ticket, perhaps this could solve the problem? I’m joking, but please give me your comments on this:) ).

What you should try to find out is the quality of the reply. Was it good or not? A correct answer is always better than a quick answer. What you really want to find out is if the customer was satisfied. How do you measure that?

What to measure in a customer support?

“What gets measured gets managed.” vs “Measure what’s important”. My opinion is that you should measure how the customer experienced the support they got. That’s why it’s called customer + support. The purpose of taking care of customers must be to create a happy customer, who want to return. With other words – loyalty.
measure against your target

What drives loyalty, and what creates loyalty?

A study reveals that you should not really “wow” your customers. It’s a waste of money and resources. What gives a bang-for-the-buck is to make it easy for the customer. If you make it just a little bit easier than they expect, then you are on the right way.

The summary of the survey:

  • To WOW the customer. To exceed customer expectations (small impact).
  • To simply meet expectations. Effortless and Simple (big impact).

It’s important to reduce efforts, or make it effortless. It’s the reduced friction that is the big thing about loyalty.

”Make it easy to manage complaints today, and your customers are less likely to complain again.”


Here are 3 common ways to measure loyalty, the most common methods are:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSS/CSAT)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)

All of them have the same purpose: To measure loyalty. All three are based on surveys where the customer needs to answer a question. “How would you rate us on a scale from 1-10”. The biggest disadvantage of all methods is the fact that the customer needs to reply. It’s not optimal because the customer have to engage, and you force an effort upon the customer. It may cause friction. And efforts are, as earlier stated, BAD.


Customer Efforts.

Should you measure customer effort?

Since every effort is an effort, then the act to send a survey to a customer may give you misleading numbers. Every single occasion may vary due to this, and the numbers may vary much. That’s why you should do your metrics from time to time, and measure on a long term basis. Make a summary and a conclusion based on many occasions and look for trends.


When to measure? When shouldn’t you?

ChartMogul wrote a great rule for measuring NPS. You should not start a NPS survey in connection with a customer support ticket. Try to avoid the misunderstanding that customers should evaluate the last contact. Even if that is probably the case anyhow. The customer will most probably base their answer on the last contact, instead of your product or your service over time.

I have a real example, why you shouldn’t measure during or after a support ticket.

As stated, it’s an effort to contact customer support for any customer. You should not add efforts on already made efforts. If you do add it, then you will notice a quick change from happy to less happy. My example: A friend of mine contacted an e-commerce store to cancel a misplaced order. The customer bought the wrong product and he wanted to cancel the order before it was sent. You can’t blame the store in this case. But after the confirmation of the cancellation they also sent a NPS survey and asked if it was easy to handle the ticket.

It felt simple, initially. As a matter of fact, the expectations was met just perfect. The order was canceled and nothing was shipped. All good in the hood. If that had been the end, then the customer would have been satisfied. What wasn’t expected, why did they fail? It was the sudden request to fill a survey short after the cancellation confirmation email. Since it was an additional effort to fill the survey all fun was gone. What you missed in this story is the fact that my friend, like all other full-time workers, has too few hours every day. He doesn’t have a minute to waste, he’s always busy, and he doesn’t have time for errors. He didn’t purchase the wrong product intentionally and he just wanted to make it right. It was kind of an effort to find out contact details, copy the order number, and keep in touch in due time before the shipment. He had to make that time. It was efforts.

cake on cake

This is a big reason why you shouldn’t send the NPS (or similar) in connection with a support ticket. I like to call it “efforts on efforts”. To get in touch with customer support is always an effort, no matter how friendly they are and how well they perform 🙂
Don’t confuse this with asking how the service was during a shopping experience. The big difference here is because the customers expect some resistance while shopping. Then it makes perfect sense to ask a few questions about the experience. You want ratings for sure.


  • Don’t put efforts on efforts.
  • Don’t just measure the quantity of the calls and the time to reply.
  • Measure how satisfied the customers are with the quality of the replies in general.
  • Avoid to survey the customers in direct connection with a ticket.
  • Efforts vs Expectations. Each time you raise the expectations you will find a challenge to meet expectations.


Learn more about NPS, CSS och CES.

Net Promoter Score

NPS example

NPS is a method to measure loyalty versus a brand. You have probably seen the following question “how likely are you to recommend this to a friend or colleague”? The purpose is to find so called promoters (brand carriers), and detractors (non loyal customers).

Companies who measure NPS should also implement ways to gather the anwers, ask why, and follow up with activities to convert detractors into promoters. The challenge is to find out what type of issues you have, and what leads to bad NPS, and why it does. NPS is a long-term metric that can be used, and should be used, to find bottle-necks and problems. TICKETBIRD use a similar way by asking WHY on each ticket.

What is Net Promoter Score (wikipedia)

The 4 stages of Net Promoter Score

How to improve the metric of NPS

Customer Satisfaction Score

CSS example
CSS is the Expectations vs Perception. A way to find out if the products and services are satisfying. More correctly, if the customer expectations prior to a purchase are met, and how the expectations relate to how the performance is perceived after a purchase. So you have to find an explanation for satisfaction, which is an abstract form of happiness. The answer is that it depends on expectations. If you add the fact that every customer has different minimum requirements then you get an extremely abstract KPI that is very hard to figure out.

Personally, I believe this is something for a marketing department to make surveys outside a shopping mall or something. It depends on each product and each occasion. One of many products from a brand may not affect the whole product range and the brand itself. Or it could. One product that may seem expensive at first sight might be cheap after 10 years while still working and has superior quality. Everything depends. And there are too many factors.

Customer Satisfaction (wikipedia)


Customer Effort Score

CES example
CES is the latest method for measuring. According to the founders its 1.8x better than CSS and 2x better than NPS. CES was launched through the organization CEB and is all about; when customers need to put more efforts than expected, it turns out to be a bad experience. The findings are that CES is the most predictive way to measure loyalty. What you do is to give the possibility through the perspective of the customer to declare “the company made it easy for me” and the customer can agree or not. In the study, they also found three things that generate more than 50% of all efforts.

  1. That the customer needs to repeat a problem for many persons.
  2. To change channel, between self-service, to mail, to phone.
  3. If you have to contact a company many times to solve a problem. Or if you are moved between several departments.

Please read the Harvard Business Review’s article “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers”

TICKETBIRD have made a, what we call, CHECK-IN  – that makes it easy for customers to get in contact, without having to repeat the issue, or switch channels.














Net Promoter© and NPS© are registered trademarks and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are trademarks of Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems and Fred Reichheld.



One Comment on “Why customer effort is more important than time to resolution”

  1. Pingback: Customer Experience and User Experience - Trust me, there is a difference. - Ticketbird - We save the word

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