A Complete Guide To A Frictionless Customer Experience

Customers have grown accustomed to hassle-free and convenient customer support.

According to Salesforce’s 6th edition State of Marketing report, 84% of customers now believe “the experience a company provides is just as important as its product and services”.

Therefore, customer experience demands equal attention as the product itself.

By removing obstacles for customers (so-called friction), your business can become more successful and achieve a higher conversion rate.

Simply speaking, reducing customer efforts and solving their problems efficiently during their customer journey ensures customer loyalty.

In this post, we will look deeper into building a frictionless experience for customers.

What is a customer journey?

A customer journey is a comprehensive term for all the interactions a customer has with your product and brand.

For example, for an e-commerce brand, the customer journey starts as soon as the customer becomes aware of the existence of the e-commerce brand.

After that, all interactions between the customer and the brand contribute to the customer journey: The layout of the website, the user flow in the shop, the payment options during checkout and countless more interaction points during and before the sale.

Even after the customer purchased a product the customer journey is still active and now focuses on providing a good service, if problems with the product arise, or selling additional features.

This case study from BMW sums up how major brands map the journey of their customers.

What is the meaning of a frictionless customer experience?

Customer friction stems from behavioural science and measures how difficult it is for a customer to interact with your product.

The key to providing a frictionless customer experience is to discover and eliminate any problems or inconveniences that customers might encounter while interacting with your company.

A frictionless sales process saves the customer time, effort, and discomfort.

Why is frictionless design important in business?

The less friction you have within your sales process and customer support, the more leads, conversions and sustained business your company will be able to yield.

For example, some websites ask customers to solve a captcha verification before the buying process can complete. While this process may only take a couple of seconds and can be technically necessary, it may make the visitor skip the website and head to another one.

When customers have difficulties while dealing with your company or brand, they tend to switch to another product or service provider with a more convenient customer experience. Even if the product itself satisfies the customer’s need, the customer’s retention and the viral potential of your venture will be strongly amplified by the experience the customer has when consuming the product or service.

How to identify customer friction?

Identifying friction points is the first step in improving the whole experience of your customers. Once you come to know of your customer’s friction points, the next step is to remove those frictions one by one and keeping them to a minimum.

Below we listed 3 ways to identify points where friction occurs in your customer’s interaction with the product.

1. Ask your customers
With modern technology, it is easier than ever to collect data on customer’s satisfaction such as online surveys, a comment section on your web page or online reviews on Amazon or similar sites. Allowing your customers to share feedback is the first step towards understanding your customer’s needs and wants in a better way. It is recommended to survey your customers regularly and put a process in place for incorporating such feedback.

2. Pretend to be your own customer
To make sure that the buying process is smooth for your consumers, especially if you own an online store, you may want to try buying your product yourself and audit the buying process independently from time to time. This enables you to see the process from the buyer’s point of view and to identify needless friction points and ambiguity in the buying process. We recommend that you revisit your customer’s journey map at least every 3 months and improve it by removing as much friction as possible.

3. Analyse your competition
Analyse your competitor’s strategies by experiencing their customer journeys. This can give you new ideas on how to further improve your product. It is important to find out the answers to questions like: “How does my competitor sell their products?”, “Is their selling process different from mine?” and “What are their customer touchpoints?”.

3 Simple steps for a better, more frictionless Customer Experience:

1. Avoid overloading your customer with too many options

Too many options can lead to fewer sales. Even though companies usually try to make products for every potential customer type, providing excessive varieties in choice, can ultimately hurt their success.

If you provide people with too many options, they will be more likely to abandon the buying process altogether, because they might feel overwhelmed by not being able to make the right and informed choice.

This effect is known as choice overload and should be taken into account while planning.

Multiple studies have proven this effect and have shown, that there is a clear connection between having too many options and making low sales.

One example is a study done on jams in the year 2000. In that study, customers were observed buying jams in two different stores. In the first store, the customers had a choice between 6 flavours of jams and in the second store, the customers had a choice between 30 flavours of jams.

Even though one should be able to find a more fitting product within the 30 flavours, the study showed that customers were more likely to buy jams when only 6 flavours were available rather than when 30 flavours were presented before them.

Furthermore, the customers also admitted having more satisfaction with the product when the choice was limited to only 6 flavours.

2. Make your products easy to understand

If you want your customers to remember your products then keep the information as simple as possible. If you overload your product with hard to digest information then it may slip out of the customer’s mind.

Furthermore, you should always try to tie difficult information to information that is easy to process.

Apple for example, famously promoted the, back then, new iPod by mentioning how many songs you can fit on them, instead of promoting the number of gigabytes available.

This made it much easier for customers to relate the technical information to the benefit.

3. Entice your customers with smart incentives

Make the first interaction appealing to the customers. Strategies such as providing free trials and rewards attract the customers and help to make the first contact easy.

Once the customer is already “invested” in your product, you can then use the friction effect to your advantage because the cancelling process involves some effort.

A lot of subscription service providers use this method. Every time a customer subscribes to a service, there is a self-enabled option of auto-renewing the service for the next time, which reduces the effort of the customer for the future.

In a famous study from 2002 researchers opened up two different pizza stores and participants were given two options to customize a pizza.

In the first store, the pizza was loaded with all the toppings and the customers had the option to get rid of the toppings and the price would go down with every topping taken out of the pizza.

In the second store, the customers had to add toppings of their choice to basic pizza dough and the price would increase with every topping added.

Since everyone has a pre-existing preference over the kind of pizza they like, one should assume, that there wouldn’t be much difference between the final amount of toppings on the pizzas.

In reality, the results were pretty far apart from each other:

In the first store, where the toppings had to be dropped from a fully loaded pizza, customers paid 6 dollars more on average, than the customers in the second store where they started with a basic pizza.

Conclusion:

Customers expect hassle-free and smooth interactions during the whole purchasing process. Focusing on customer experience helps to stay ahead of your competitors in the long term and maintain customer loyalty.

Implementing the steps for identifying and removing friction, asking for feedback regularly and observing competitors’ strategies helps you understand the overall buying process from your customers’ point of view. This will help you make your interactions with customers as effortless as possible.

To ensure high customer satisfaction, review all these steps continuously from time to time and update them accordingly. Improving customer experience is a never-ending process because customers needs and expectations are dynamic and flexible. However, the idea of friction-free product experiences is permanent.

With our articles, we are trying to provide as much free and valuable content as possible. If you want to go deep into understanding how to reduce customer friction and create perfect customer experiences, we recommend you to apply to our EWOR Academy. During the course, you will have the resources to read this content and also speak to experts such as Om Marwah, Former Global Head of Behavioral Science at Walmart, who has been our major inspiration behind writing this article.

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Daniel Dippold

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