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The Inbound Playbook

How To Remove Friction From The Customer Journey.

15 Dec 2017

We’re always looking for a ‘hassle-free’ path from point A to B. 

Efficiency, ease, comfort or ‘seamless’ process/transition - is what the ‘lizard brain’ of ours is pre-wired to seek (via the autonomous nervous system); in every aspect of our lives… 

And that drive is even more pronounced, say for a prospect that is armed with a query; or is looking to find a product/service or a solution to meet his/her needs. 

In fact, when a potential customer is browsing/researching for a product, the urge to take the ‘path of least resistance’ is much higher; not to mention the ‘Instant-Gratification Train’ which doubles up in speed while the faculty of ‘patience’ momentarily takes a hike - After all, we (humans) have managed to shorten our species’ attention-span well below than that of a gold fish

Predisposed to these behaviours, it is clearly a ‘no brainer’ that customers don’t like obstructions or friction of any shape or kind, while they are merrily skipping through their ‘buyer’s journey’… 

In other words, the fastest way to lose your customers is to frustrate them and get on their nerves by creating as many frictions as you can, when they’re on their road to making the purchase decision… 

Where Does ‘Friction’ Occur and How To Mitigate?

Friction for customers can start at various points in their journey – some start even before they consider going for your brand, which is called ‘BRAND FRICTION’. 

This occurs mostly due to lack of trust. Brands who have not built the required ‘authority’ and credibility among the masses, in relation to their competitors, sustain this kind of friction. In order to overcome ‘brand friction’ one should:

  • Expand its outreach and get noticed through networking, such as being featured on reputable offline and online media channels.
  • Get accreditation from prominent industry/business bureaus.
  • Have an attractive and professional-looking website.
  • Feature testimonials and reviews of customers and influential people on your site.
  • Create a buzz around social media and amplify your brand presence. 

The other type of friction which consumers experience is at their ‘wallets’ - The ‘PRICE FRICTION’. If the prices of your goods are extremely high, or if the customers do not feel that it corresponds to the value you’re offering; then they’re more likely to resist and decline your brand. 

The remedy here is simply to provide more value - Either price your product/service at a discounted rate than that of your competitors on identical products; or you can quote a similar price but add more features and benefits to beat the competition. 

The next type of friction is the one we’re all too familiar with – The ‘USER EXPERIENCE FRICTION’; one that emerges as roadblocks hindering customers from completing their purchases. 

It’s the most detrimental one because 51% of B2B companies are already avoiding vendors after a bad customer service experience with them; whereas on the flip side there is good news: 74% of consumers have spent more money in response to good customer service

The ‘User Experience Friction’ can be felt at numerous touch points into the customers’ journey. It could start right from the time you type in your search query – say you type in your keywords into search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo; or other platforms like Amazon, but you receive nothing relevant; only a list of incoherent, mismatched results

This decreases the interest in the users, prompting them to abandon the product/service/idea and search for another topic/keyword

Let’s assume that you got a good list on the search results page and clicked on a relevant URL. Now the next roadblock could start well before you even get a glimpse of the website – Here, we are talking about the friction that is associated with an ‘excruciatingly’ slow webpage load time

As mentioned before, we neither have the ‘time’ nor the ‘attention-span’ to wait and watch the clockwise-spinning ‘wait’ cursor to load the page for us; where seconds feel like a lifetime! So we either click the back button to look for a faster website; or simply close the page and forget about it. 

The other roadblocks that mires the customers’ journey depends on the site’s ‘appeal factor’, ‘navigational ease’, ‘content quality’, ‘online support’ ‘checkout process’, etc. 

To overcome the ‘User Experience Friction’ here’s a few things you need to consider:

  • Make your website loading time lightning fast; no later than 2 seconds.
  • Use high quality photos, videos and exceptional design features that accentuates your products and provides clear information.
  • Incorporate site-wide search options and navigation options to help users browse around effortlessly.
  • Always accompany a blog-post page to provide users with useful articles and guidelines.
  • Make your checkout process simple and easy by minimising the steps required.
  • Use CRM Tools and Marketing/sales Stacks to provide relevant, personalised service to users/customers. 

Brands Removing Friction to Enhance Experience and Trust

It is estimated that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. We are already witnessing key brands betting all their money on consumer experience and the disrupters adopting technologies that enhance customer experience. 

Whether it’s Amazon, which pioneered the one-click purchase; or PayPal that revolutionised the online payment system; or Uber that changed the way you hired a taxi. All of these brands have not only removed the friction that crops up in their customers purchase journey; but also made it easy for them to ‘glide’ through it and walk out happily with a product in their hands. 

Many like Macy’s below, are also looking to provide their customers the ability to browse their local branch’s inventory online:

It was possible by streamlining data-sharing across its digital and physical storefronts. Now customers can try on and pick up items from their local stores. Macy’s also lets its customers know if an item they google via their mobile phones, are available in nearby stores or not. 

When LinkedIn reduced their initial response time to customer inquiries by 85% and average resolution time by 68%; it led to 23% in overall customer satisfaction

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To Sum It Up…

Today 68% of consumers agree that shopping is less about brands or products themselves and more about what they are feeling and needing

The way you win the hearts of your consumers is not just by building great products and constantly blogging about it - When brands can remove friction for their customers, and enhance their buying journey/experience; they build a real connection and a lasting relationship based on trust and reliability! 

If you'd like further assistance or would like to discuss anything covered today, we'd love to hear from you.

Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249 5570 or email andy@element7digital.com.au

 Our Website is www.element7digital.com.au

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