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Customer Experience is Quality over Effort

The other day I met with Stuart Lambert from TwistCX who has devised an amazingly simple Customer Experience (CX) formula:

customer experience is function of quality and effort

Stuart went on to define Quality as a function of:

  • Personalisation
  • Relevance
  • Timeliness (when you want it, not when it is ready for you)
  • Reward (both physical and emotional or a feeling of well-being).

And Effort is a function of:

  • Physical exertion (how much physical effort must you do)
  • Mental agility (how much must you puzzle and try and work something out)
  • Specialist knowledge (do you use in-house jargon or expect industry knowledge?)
  • Perceived delay (how long must you wait for it to be ready or done).


Think about it from a mathematical perspective. The greater the quality and the smaller the effort, the greater the customer experience. Likewise, if your quality is not all that great and you make your customers work for their service (effort) the customer experience will diminish. An easy way to explain to customer experience laggards and for people new to customer experience management.


TwistCX used the formula to create a CX matrix with levels of quality and effort on the two axes:

matrix of effort and quality

Companies typically have multiple customer journeys under its umbrella, e.g., sales, signing up process, product/service delivery, after sales service, repairs and maintenance, handling queries, returns, payments, refunds, and many more.

The idea is to place each journey in each quadrant so you can identify where to focus your efforts to enhance your customers’ experiences. At a macro scale you can place your company relative to your competitors in these quadrants as well to understand your market position.


Your customers must do a lot of work and don’t get much for it. Not a quadrant a company wants to be perceived as and if one of your customer journeys occupies this space you could lose customers, get bad publicity and open to losing customers to the competition. A classic example of this would be a monopoly like government bureaucracy. The customer is a captive audience, staff morale is often low, and there is no motivation to improve services as customers have no choice but to use them.

Often a start-up may begin here if they use Rapid Application Development model (RAD). Go to market with the bare essentials (often high effort for the customer) and grow based on customer feedback.


Although you expend a lot of effort, the quality you receive is excellent. This quadrant is for those journeys that, due to the nature of the service, require the customer to do some work. Regulated industries could fall in this quadrant where the customer has to supply certain documentation in order to proceed, for example applying for a bank loan. If that is the case the company must ensure the quality of their processes are well thought out and made as easy as possible for the customer.

Having said that, high effort could be part of a strategy as well. Ikea is known for its good quality but the effort a customer goes through is part of their strategy. Ikea gives the impression they are cutting expenses to the bone and passing that cost savings on to them. As an example, they do so by having too few tills open so queues are long – labour cost savings.


Requires little effort from the customer but they don’t get a quality interaction. This quadrant is reserved for those processes that require low amounts of effort from the customer and the output is also a low quality. An example would be national TV broadcasts, no personalised services, lots of reruns, and no choice when the show will be on. The service may be free however the quality of the shows and numbers of re-runs reflects the low cost and quality.

Companies with customer journeys in this “Convenient” quadrant may be sending out bulk spammy correspondence and where the processes are automated with little to no ability to customise them around individual users. The quality will be just enough to retain market share.

HIGH QUALITY / LOW EFFORT – “Market leaders”

This requires low effort from the customer but they get an excellent quality outcome. This quadrant is reserved for companies that have spent time and effort on mastering the journey for the customer. It is highly personalised, relevant to them, is available when they want it, requires little effort on their side, and they benefit significantly from the journey.

All too often these companies use technology to its full advantage. They may have taken an industry by storm and created upheavals. Typical examples of this are Amazon, Netflix, Uber, and Airbnb. Some may even use AI like Facebook in its face recognition capabilities.

These journeys have had a lot of time and effort focused on them and if they are successful they will win with increased loyalty and word of mouth advertising.


The important part of this is a correct diagnosis of the different customer journeys in your company and allocating them in the appropriate quadrants. As ideal as it may be to have all your journeys in the “Market Leader” quadrant (high quality / low effort) it may not be economically feasible. There may also be restraints as well like legislation, codes of conduct, privacy issues, customers’ access to technology, and many more, including what the competition is doing.

Quality can be assessed by a CSAT survey, and effort through using a customer effort score type survey.

TwistCX, the company that came up with this, have their approach to addressing this and can be found here.

Written by: Douglas MacGregor

Founder: Customer Relationship Auditing

+1 (903) 229-1578

Reference: Stuart Lambert, Founder and Principal Consultant: TwistCX.