Friction-Free CX Can Lead to More Sales and Satisfied Customers

4 minute read, posted on 06/14/2024, by Michael Aronowitz

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The modern customer journey is far more complex and circular than it used to be. The traditional journey that a customer would take can be summarized as a series of steps:

  1. Awareness: the customer initially learns about a product
  2. Research: the customer seeks out more information
  3. Purchase: the customer makes a purchase
  4. Support: the customer has a post-purchase question or problem and needs help

The modern version of this is more complex because we no longer only learn about new products from advertising. We might read a blog or a social media post, see a recommendation, or read a review. We can also contribute to any of these platforms as well. In addition, customers build relationships with brands that may begin before ever making a purchase or continue long after a purchase.

But one thing that connects the very simple linear customer journey and the modern version is friction. The best customer experience is usually one with no friction, or as little as possible.

How do we define friction in a customer experience?

A recent LinkedIn post by Phil Fersht, the founder of HFS Research, gives a good example. Phil was in a pharmacy in the US trying to buy toothpaste. It was locked up. Customers needed to find a member of staff to unlock the display just to buy some toothpaste. It prevents theft, but also makes shopping difficult for every honest customer.

This article in The Atlantic gives a different kind of example, where an online purchase is almost impossible to return even though the original description stated the wrong size for the item.

This article in the business magazine Forbes explores friction-free customer experience from the perspective of how many channels are supported by the brand. For example, if the customer emails a question, and then calls because they did not get a quick response, the agent on the call will know there is an unanswered email. All the different communication channels should be connected.

These are all good examples of friction in the customer experience, but what we are really describing is the point where everything becomes difficult – often leading to a customer just giving up on a purchase or never returning to this brand ever again.

It should be easy to find useful information about a product, to find how to make a purchase, and to find how to get support whether a purchase has been made or not. Making all these steps simple by thinking about the design of a website or app is a good start, but then it is important to back up this design with the support operation that can respond to the customers that need help.

This is where the concept of frictionless customer experience really matters. A healthcare customer updating their insurance policy and struggling with some of the questions just wants to be steered through the process with the minimum delay. A bank customer considering a mortgage may have questions about the simulation the website has created.

These are often customers that are ready to make a purchase, but they have a question about the product that needs to be resolved before they are ready to click on the purchase button. For this reason, ensuring that your customer service processes are focused on supporting the customer really means that great service helps to confirm and secure sales.

Designing your purchase and service processes with a focus on reducing friction can improve customer satisfaction, but it can also ensure that all those who would just give up do actually continue to the purchase page – it gets those customers that are 99% into a purchase over the line.

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