Customers of today expect a lot from brands and businesses. They want quick answers and fixes.
They need something – they take out their phone and buy it online immediately. It can be a new dress, a TV, diapers, headphones, pillows, and more.
Which is why you need to make sure there is little to no friction in your customer’s journey.
67% of customers say their standard for good experiences are higher than they have ever been.Salesforce
What is customer friction?
In its simplest definition, friction is a force that holds back an object.
In this context, customer friction is anything that holds your customer back from purchasing your products and services.
They can be multiple factors that cause them to procrastinate their buying decision or abandon the decision altogether.
Customer friction can happen anywhere in a customer’s journey.
They can be simple factors like a long waiting line, a slow website, or more complex factors like getting a refund.
As a business owner, you want to make sure to reduce any kind of customer friction points so your customers can have a smooth experience.
74% will likely switch brands if they find the purchasing process too complicated.Salesforce
Failing to do so will result in your customers turning towards your competitors – who are delivering a seamless process to increase customer satisfaction.
57% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experiencePwC
So what are some examples of customer friction factors?
1) Poorly trained salespeople
How many times have you walked into a store and the salesperson did not even acknowledge you? Maybe there are times when you can’t even locate them.
This already gives off a poor impression of your brands and will have customers second-guessing if they want to buy something from your store.
2) Slow answers
Let’s say a customer is browsing your online store and found something that they liked but it is out of stock.
So they try to call your store and ask when will the item be restocked. They don’t get a definite answer. Then they email customer service and wait, and wait, and wait.
What happens next? They find another online store and buy the product from there. Just like that, you have lost a customer and potential revenue.
3) Limited payment options
This is one of the most common friction experienced by customers in 2020.
Imagine walking to a store and picking up 20 items – and then the cashier tells you that you can only pay by cash and that they don’t accept credit cards.
Sadly, in 2020, many stores still employ a “cash-only” policy.
This creates friction for customers who are more comfortable paying with cards or e-wallets.
There are many payment methods for online shoppers – yet there can still be friction.
Maybe their card is in the bedroom and they’re in the living room.
This is where you can eliminate the friction by allowing them to pay with e-wallets on their mobile phone. Or perhaps a cash-on-delivery system.
Anything to help them complete the purchase there and then.
4) Negative customer reviews
Reviews are often seen as trust signals by potential customers. They want to see what everyone else is saying about your product or service before they decide that it’s worth spending money on.
We understand that every customer is different and sometimes, things may go wrong.
A customer might leave a bad review.
As a business owner, you should respond to that review and help the customer solve their problem or find out what caused their dissatisfaction.
Too many bad reviews might be seen as a red flag by potential customers – and they will turn away from you.
5) Inconsistent information
A confused customer is a frustrated customer.
Make sure you’re not saying one thing on your website, another thing via email, and something completely different on the phone.
Send out a consistent message or information to your customers.
6) Poor refund and return policies
Ideally, we don’t want customers to return our products. But sometimes, a product may be faulty – or perhaps they bought the wrong size.
Don’t give customers hell when they ask for a replacement or a refund.
You want to make sure the process is seamless so the customer walks away feeling good – and will boast about your amazing refund/return policy.
Don’t believe us? Ask any Zalora customer how easy it is to return a product or get a refund – and watch them rave about it.
7) Bad user experience (UX)
This is probably the most common friction – and the easiest to eliminate.
Slow loading websites, too many steps before the checkout, no filters to narrow down on products, insufficient information on products, no shipment tracking process – all these lead to bad user experience.
These can be easily rectified by your tech team and website developers.
62% say they share bad experiences with othersSalesforce
Can you completely eradicate customer friction?
To be realistic, running a business cannot be perfect. But it doesn’t have to be.
No matter how many processes you have in place, there will always be some room for improvement.
There will always be one or two friction points – because every customer is different.
So what can you do?
One of the things you can do is to get customer feedback. Customer feedback is the most important data you can have.
Find out what customers like or dislike about your product and work to improve from there.
You can ask customers to leave a public review on your website, or reach out to them privately via messaging tools and get their feedback.
Another thing you can do is address negative reviews. Reach out to dissatisfied customers and ask them what you could have done differently.
Keep up to date with the latest technologies and allow customers a flexible payment option, be it with cash, cards, or e-wallet.
Train your customer services representatives and sales people well.
Invest in a customer experience management tool to help you automate processes in your business for a seamless experience.
Identify who your customers are and engage with them.
Keep them in the loop about your policies and product updates.
Remember, it’s 2020 and delivering a seamless customer experience is everything.