I recently had eye surgery that required me sleeping on my back for two weeks following the operation. I always sleep on my side…ever since I was a kid. My back-sleeping attempts are so challenging I am never able to nap on those U.S. to Europe flights. I usually end up burning a gazillion frequent flyer points to get a pricey seat that reclines to a flatbed…so I can turn on my side!


It made me think about the many times we make customers break their routines-of-comfort in order to be served the way we want to serve them. When my family recently organized my mother’s 102nd birthday party, the restaurant bluntly told us we could not move tables together, or have simple table decorations, and if we wanted to have ice cream with the decorated birthday cake we brought, we had to buy a case of 48 cups in advance. We had only half that many family members at her party.


One more thing, we had to either all order from the menu or all go through their buffet. Try getting an 8-year-old to select roast beef in gravy, cauliflower, and mashed potatoes from the buffet when there are chicken tenders, mac & cheese, and French fries on the kid’s menu!! Their rules trumped our comfort and enjoyment.


Effortless is the new buzz word in today’s world of customer service. Some companies have devised elaborate metrics driven from customer surveys. But, in the quest to take the bureaucracy and red tape out of the customers’ experiences, we forget that comfort also includes anxiety, not just hassle. Wait time is a favorite target. Wait is complex when viewed through the eyes of customers. When you take your child to the emergency room with a nasty cut, wait has a completely different meaning if that child is also in shock or turning blue.


The simplicity of an effort metric makes customer experience improvement seem more easily prescriptive, But, it fails to capture the complexity of customer experience. Let’s measure effort. But, let’s not be seduced into thinking comfort is “all about effort.” It takes no physical effort for me to lie on my back. But that position for serious sleeping ramps up my angst and dramatically reduces my comfort.