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How to Ensure a Frictionless Customer Experience

4th September 2020

With home internet usage at an all-time high over recent months, I have been thinking a lot about customer experiences. It’s shocking how many online customer experiences are still slow, clunky and confusing. When you pick apart so many customer journeys you can see that many that look good are filled with sticky tape solutions and cracks that are exposed as you go through.

Friction vs frictionless

Customer journeys today are varied but most customers now have a low tolerance for friction. Cult make up site Trinny London has a very well-managed customer journey and provides a great example of the customer experience done well. The site has seamless UX that follows the user across channels to remind them what their colour set is, and what products they’ve already bought. Next also provides a very seamless experience across all channels. The company undertook a full digital transformation early on and can now build on a stable platform. But there are plenty of opposing examples. I logged into Harvard Business Review on all devices but when I click a link from Twitter or elsewhere, I’m still asked for login details. Firewalls are certainly a big source of friction for customers.

There’s also Made.com where a colleague bought a rug and was subsequently sent a reminder email asking if she wanted to buy a rug. She continues to receive rug-focused emails even through the same email address used to purchase.

Balance user experience with watertight security

A common trait among poor customer experiences is that nearly all of them are non-linear. They move from social media to an app and sometimes even to human interaction. Comparing experiences makes the flaws of a platform blindingly obvious. Take logging in to Netflix vs Amazon on your smart TV for instance; Netflix makes you use whatever horrid UX your TV and remote have to put in your full email address and password. On the flip side, Amazon gives you a simple code to put into your phone/tablet/computer and that’s it. Putting the user and their real-world context first always removes friction and this is a prime example of that. So, how can businesses strike the right balance between user experience and strong security? When security is linked to respecting your data and privacy, rather than being bloody-minded or a hangover from legacy systems, then I think customers can be more willing to accept a little friction. They don’t mind logging in again across multiple devices if they know it’s for their own security. If not, it looks like sub-standard UX.

Businesses often fall down when apps aren’t comfortable making use of the customer’s device. For example, I have two banking apps on my phone, one only uses fingerprint, the other allows me to use facial recognition which is much quicker and more convenient.

Data in exchange for a seamless experience

There’s the expectation that if you share a certain level of data with the brand, your experience should then be seamless. It is vital that you are able to deliver and it’s always been the case. How often have you been driven mad by call centres passing you around departments where you keep having to give the same information? If you can convince someone that they will have an easier life because they told you something, they usually won’t mind telling you. In most cases, handing over data is hope over experience. The trick is for brands to give people a good experience from the start, so they understand what they are signing up for and what the clear benefits will be to them.

Good customer experience is a state of mind

Really, Customer Experience (CX) should never be a department, but a state of mind across all business areas. The minute organisational structure trumps the customer experience, it becomes sub-standard. You must always remember to design with a customer-first approach – it sounds trite but is still depressingly the exception rather than the rule. If necessary, share your KPIs across business units to ensure alignment, and force silos to consider the impact of their actions. It’s easy to fall into the trap of different business units actually working to different objectives – for example, one team is tasked with reach, another with conversion when the real KPI is sales.

All decisions made should be in order to remove the barriers between the customer and the goal. There’s also a huge value for working closely with customer service. It gives an invaluable understanding of what real people do when they use products, interact with brands, and so on. Businesses should look outside the standard channels for new employees and find people who have lived the life they are trying to service.

This article was written by Rob Pellow for PerformanceIn on August 25th 2020. 

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