What is the Eddy Effect?

Have you ever spent any time canoeing on a river? If so, you’ve likely noticed a rock or log that fell into the river and disrupted the current. When this happens, the object creates a counter-current and you’ll see whirlpools on the side of the river. These whirlpools are known as eddies.

The same phenomenon occurs in the customer journey when the customer must cycle back over and over again to a company because of a disruption in the ‘current’ of their customer experience. This is known as the Eddy Effect.

Eddy Effect

The Eddy Effect occurs when a customer’s desired or expected experience is disrupted by an obstacle that causes the customer to feel “stuck” in a problem.

Phases of an Eddy

Phases of the Eddy Effect

When a customer first encounters an Eddy, they go through three distinct phases:

1. Feeling

First, the customer has an emotional response to the situation.

Ex: “I received the wrong prescription in the mail… It’s really frustrating because now I’m late on taking my medicine

2. Seeking Understanding

Next, the customer tries to rationalize or make sense of the situation by developing scenarios about why it occurred (that may or may not be the truth.)

Ex: “Did my doctor not submit the right prescription to you?”

3. Continued Confusion

At this point, the customer reaches out to Customer Service in search of answers and resolution. Unfortunately, what typically happens is when the customer gets off the phone, they still don’t have a clear understanding of why the problem occurred or what to do next.

Ex: “The agent told me someone would look into it and get back to me in a few days. It’s been a week and here I am calling you guys again. I need my prescription now.”


This continued confusion causes the customer to start the process all over again with a heightened emotional response.

Ex: “I’ve called three times and each time I get a different response on the status of my medicine. This is a mess, and I’m the one suffering.”

Eddies are a significant problem for the healthcare industry. They generate waste and directly impact the bottom line. For a crash course on the Eddy Effect, download The Complete Guide to the Eddy Effect.

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