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Effortlessness: A New Frontier in Public Service

By May 29, 2021September 25th, 2023All, Design4 min read


Published on May 29, 2021 | Reading Time: 3 mins

Effortlessness: a common word that’s gained a special meaning the public sector. Find out how this once-overlooked concept has challenged conventional wisdom and transformed public service delivery.

The Rise of the Effortlessness Concept
Public service delivery has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, often taking inspiration from the private sector to meet rising customer expectations and national challenges. Implementing customer experience (CX) strategies in government was a major leap towards realizing several untapped opportunities. Adopting this human-centered mindset in the design of a customer’s end-to-end service journey, alongside a consideration of next-generation best practices from the private sector has been instrumental in benefitting the government in several key areas:

  1. Trust: Satisfied customers are nine times more likely to trust the government.
  2. Budget: Getting a service right the first time round means less strain on customer support services.
  3. Reputation: Customers are twice as likely to use social media, hotlines or letters to express unhappiness in the case of a bad experience. Yet, for every 1-point increase in CX index scores, 4.4% more customers express positive views of the organisation, generating favorable word of mouth for the government, and 2.7% of customers are more likely to forgive the organisation for errors.
  4. Morale: Setting and achieving long-term strategic goals boosts organisational health and employee engagement.
  5. Mission: Satisfied customers are nine times more likely to agree that an organisation is achieving its mission. Customers having an excellent experience are 70% more likely to state that the agency raises pride in their country. 1

The case for CX in governments is undisputable. Yet, there remains a missing puzzle piece. While customer complaints most often describe services as ‘too slow’, the latest research suggests that ‘reliability’ and ‘simplicity’ are the real underlying drivers of satisfaction. A fantastic customer experience, therefore, is at its core an effortless experience. This means removing barriers from transactions and making the process streamlined, easy, and simple. 2

Figure 1: Main drivers of customer experience when measured using the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)3

The Case for Effortlessness

Conventional wisdom of service delivery has always centered around ‘wowing’ the customer. The approach has become so ingrained that it is rarely questioned, encouraging companies to pour valuable time and resources into the pursuit of exceeding customer expectations. It has recently come as a surprise that in practice, exceeding customer expectations does not increase loyalty. In other words, delight does not pay. How could this be the case? It has now been shown that service interactions are four times more likely to drive disloyalty than loyalty; a process that is driven by 5 main factors:

  1. Having to repeatedly contact customer support to resolve an issue.
  2. A generic service where the customer is treated in a scripted and impersonal manner. This is also a major driver of repeated contacts, as customers often call back when they feel they are not generating sufficient rapport with representatives.
  3. Repeating information, which is driven by cases of having to contact an agency multiple times.
  4. High levels of perceived effort experienced by the customer when resolving an issue.
  5. Repeated transfers of customers between service representatives and departments, also known as ‘bouncing around’.

Whether directly or indirectly, all the identified drivers of disloyalty feed into the concept of the effortless customer experience. Low-effort interactions are key – showing an 87% reduction in disloyalty when compared to high-effort interactions. This considerable effect represents novel exploratory ground in the service practitioner’s toolbox, as well as a new opportunity to tap into when designing, developing, and delivering services.
With the rise of digitization and the emergence of multiple channels for customers to engage with, the principle of effortlessness has become all the more important to ensure streamlined service delivery and a positive customer experience across all modes of access.

Reference List

1,3 D’Emidio, Tony, et al. “The Public Sector Gets Serious about Customer Experience.” McKinsey Quarterly, 15 Aug. 2019, doi: our-insights/the-public-sector-gets-serious-aboutcustomer- experience.
2 Dixon, Matthew, et al. The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground. Portfolio Penguin, 2013.


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