Topic(s):Customer CentricityCustomer ExperienceCX & Business Strategy
From Pain Points to Opportunities: Improving Customer Experience by Removing Friction
Sometimes you really love a brand, but they make it impossible for you to do business with them. Be it because of slow webshops, complex sign-up processes, or endless communication loops with customer service, no matter how many hoops you jump through, you just can’t get things done. So you leave and you move on. Today customers expect to have easy and seamless experiences with brands. In turn, organizations understand that offering a smooth customer experience without obstacles is essential to set yourself apart and to become a brand that customers love to buy from. But how can you find and remove that friction from your processes?
Start with the customer journey
Companies often don’t create friction on purpose. As CX Expert Steven Van Belleghem mentions in his blog ‘Four ways to remove friction from the customer experience’: “[In many companies there are] … corporate processes that historically grew into a certain shape but are no longer relevant. I’m talking about the type of rigid process or structure that everyone follows, but no one remembers why. I have seen so many companies that unintentionally installed these types of barriers that prevent customers from having a nice experience”.
To locate where customers are experiencing friction, you need to understand the customer journey first. If you’ve already made a customer journey map, great! If not, we’ll recap it shortly. A customer journey map helps you visualize every interaction or experience your customers might have with your business. It may seem simple and logical, but once you go into detail it can become quite complex as customers can get in contact with your company in a multitude of ways and from different starting points.
Customer journeys obviously look different depending on your company, industry, product, or service. You can choose how to create your customer journey map, in the example above we chose a customer journey in three stages: before, during, and after a purchase. When adding the touchpoints your customer encounters, you can place them on the map based on how personal the encounter is. The closer to the center, the more personal or human the touchpoint is.
Once you’ve mapped all these interactions, it’s up to you to decide which of these interaction points or touchpoints are important for your company goals at this time. As a best practice, we suggest starting with one touchpoint so you can build a use case and expand to other touchpoints over time. The more insight you can get from different key customer interactions, the more obstacles you will spot, and the more friction you’ll be able to resolve.
Is your customer experience really effortless?
Once you’ve mapped your touchpoints on a customer journey, the next step is to figure out which metrics you should use for each touchpoint so you capture relevant feedback for each interaction. This will help you to pinpoint friction in the customer experience.
As a short reminder, these are three standard industry metrics that you can use:
You can use the Net Promotor Score (NPS) to evaluate your customer loyalty and customers’ willingness to recommend you to their friends, family, or colleagues. It shows their overall perception of your company. You use this metric along the customer journey, best not in the beginning.
Your Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) shows how satisfied customers are with their recent experience with your company. Recent meaning their experience at a specific touchpoint, shortly before they received a CSAT survey. You use this metric to close the loop on customer interaction and to make sure you’ve met their expectations.
To measure your Customer Effort Score (CES) you ask your customers if the company made it easy for them to handle their issues. This metric quantifies the customer’s experienced effort, which is closely linked to their loyalty. Similar to CSAT, it’s a transactional metric and should be measured after a customer interaction.
Whereas it’s important to use the right metric at the right time, the Customer Effort Score is obviously a great metric if you want to understand specifically how easy it is for customers to perform a certain action: signing up online, getting an issue solved via customer service… In a time when customers stick to companies that are easy to interact with, it’s crucial to understand how convenient your products or services really are. Getting a combination of metrics and touchpoints is your best shot at getting a clear overview of where you can improve.
And of course, as a best practice, we recommend to always use a score question followed by an open feedback question: “Why did you give us this score?”. Metrics and scores are great to get an initial view or to track evolutions, but open feedback gives you the real insights into which obstacles you are putting up so you can come up with actions to remove them.
How do other companies remove friction?
Mapping the customer journey, asking the right question, and collecting feedback is your starting point. The hardest part is to turn all this feedback into real actions to make improvements. As always, learning from examples is useful, so we’ve listed some real-life use cases that might inspire you:
Securitasis the market leader when it comes to security services. One specific example of friction occurred during the onboarding phase of their customers. A standard contract with the security provider includes that you will be notified when an alarm is going off at one of your secured locations, however, a security guard isn’t sent automatically to go and have a look. When they started collecting feedback after a call with the security center, they noticed that some customers were unhappy because they had been charged extra to send someone on-premise. After talking to both customers and their sales reps to follow up on these complaints, they understood that the service terms weren’t always explained clearly enough in their onboarding package. As a result, they improved the onboarding brochure so that they set the right expectations for their customers from the beginning.
Café Royal is a Swiss coffee brand that sells its coffee both in supermarkets as online. Overall their customers were happy with their online purchase, but they received some complaints about the delivery time of their parcel. Still, before making the decision to change their entire delivery process, the coffee brand wanted to actively ask more customers for feedback post-purchase to make sure that this was the real problem. What did they learn? The majority of their customers was happy about the delivery, but the real issue was the expiration date of the coffee. Since Café Royal originated as an FMCG brand they had no separate supply chain for B2C. So even though customers were satisfied with the coffee and the delivery, the expiration date on their products came too quickly leaving them unable to consume all the coffee before it would expire.
Standaard Boekhandel is a Belgian retailer and chain of bookstores. With many locations in big cities, they saw an increase in sales during lunchtimes as people would quickly pop by the bookstore. In one store they received recurring comments about the store being understaffed during lunch. Analyzing the customer feedback showed them that their customers love the store and their brand, but that there weren’t enough people in the store during the busy lunch hour. Meaning they couldn’t wrap up their purchase and get back to work in time, leaving the retailer to miss out on sales. As a result, Standaard Boekhandel adjusted their personnel schedule for this specific store, but they also implemented a system in several stores where one employee can take on a more versatile role and switch positions to offer extra help in different areas of the store when needed.
Organizations should aim to offer a frictionless experience to their customers. Collecting and analyzing customer feedback can really help you understand and locate where customers are facing obstacles that prevent them from having a smooth customer experience, and more importantly, to keep coming back for more.
Interested in learning how Hello Customer can help you identify friction in your customer experience? Learn more about our platform or request a demo, we’re happy to help.
Net Promoter Score, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered U.S. Trademarks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.
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