Marketers polish their brands to a high gloss shine. Every word, color and font carefully honed to perfection. When marketing works effectively, leads are generated and new customers come in the door, call or go to your website.
But these victories won’t do you any good if the customer experience falls short.
When customers encounter friction—any difficulty as they do business with you—that friction is like a piece of gravel hitting a shiny new car, denting and scratching the brand image and gradually eroding trust.
Some types of friction require large investments of time and resources to remedy. They’re major areas, like your technology—your digital shopping cart or your app. You should address them, but there are also many occasions where the friction is simple to remove, if you’re paying attention.
Here are some examples where brands frequently fall short of a gleaming customer experience and how to fix them.
1) online: your contact information
Too many brands are not transparent about their location and contact information. This may be because small companies want to appear large, or there’s a desire to funnel inquiries through a central office when multiple locations are concerned.
Contact forms that disappear into an anonymous black hole provide no assurance that a customer’s concerns will be answered.
If some form of your address, phone and email isn’t in your website’s footer, it should be a main tab on your web site. Customers need to be able to know how to reach you when they have a question, want to buy or want to exchange a product they’ve purchased.
Don’t make it hard for your customers to get in touch. If a recent website redesign has resulted in a “Where’s Waldo” search for your contact info, frustrated customers will stop digging and leave. This is something you should fix immediately.
2) on hold recordings and music
Recently I called a business about an issue. The automated reception recording told me to wait for an available representative and then soothing music played. I decided to use the wait time to filter through some email. But very shortly, about 15 seconds later, there was a click, a ring and a voice. At first I thought it was a rep coming on the line, but it was really just the recording again, telling me to wait, then the music resumed. I was momentarily jarred, closing one screen to have notes handy so I could explain my issue before I realized that I was still just on hold. This cycle continued about every 15 seconds. Each time it felt like a false alarm. In the absence of an anticipated wait time, I would have much preferred just hearing music until someone was available.
Call your customer support line. Audit the wait time and how that wait time is managed. Check for:
- the amount of time a customer hears music
- the frequency of recorded interruptions
- the tone and style of on hold music that reinforces your brand
- recorded messages that inform or reassure the customer
They all contribute to the perceived amount of friction customers must experience before they get to a real person.
3) in-store environment
Don’t neglect your brick and mortar locations. Yes, we’re in a digital age, but not all business is conducted online. Customers are still coming into local businesses, so that experience needs to be worth their time—memorable, pleasant and maybe even fun.
- greet them when they come in
- offer hospitality
- give customers something to look at while they wait
- give customers something to listen to while they wait
- acknowledge them when they leave
A great in-store experience gives customers a reason to come back and to tell their friends.
These are just a few examples, but friction is anything that slows a customer down or prevents them from doing more business with you. When you’re designing or fine-tuning your customer experience, keep in mind what customers hate and what they love.
- having to dig for information
- wasting time, and they’ll despise you if you waste theirs
- getting too much paper from you
- when you speak to them in industry jargon they don’t understand
Take a closer look at your customer experience. Identify those friction points and remove them. Make sure your online, mobile, phone and in-person experience aligns with what people love. Make it easy for customers to engage with you, buy more, discover more and tell their friends.