We’ve never had a more complicated time in the history of transactions. Information is traveling much faster than any of us expected. It’s not easy and many organizations are struggling. Complicated decisions must be made in real time and customer friction points must be kept to a minimum.
You’re not in the business of selling things, you’re in the business of helping people buy things. The best way to help people buy the things you sell is by reducing customer friction points along the way.
There are just too many alternatives available when buyers confront friction. If you can identify and understand your customers’ pain points, it will bring you closer to them and solidify the relationship.
What are the most prominent customer friction points?
- Bad website user experience and/or lead conversion tactics
- Apathetic or uninformed salespeople
- Unfavorable customer service
- Poor public perception and/or reputation
- Negative online reviews
The fact is, friction kills customer experience.
There are thousands more subtle friction points along the way to the sale. The best way to get ahead of those is to study your buyers’ behavior and think like a customer.
Data is important in your process of understanding customer behavior. Numbers don’t lie. However, a lot of business only look at their data for answers when conversions start diminishing.
When businesses become data driven, they begin to lack empathy. It’s been scientifically proven that once you focus only on data and numbers, you begin to lack empathy. The actions of data review and empathy are initiated in two completely separate parts of the brain.
When you’re unable to empathize with the customer, you can’t relate to the customer and very often, they can’t relate to you. Providing a frictionless pathway to the sale depends on your ability to relate and understand what your customer needs in order to make their purchase.
Minimize friction along the buyers’ journey to keep them moving forward. The sales funnel is not gravity driven. There’s no guarantee they’ll ever make their way to the bottom. Minimize the friction in your online and offline interactions by providing support and expertise. Make it effortless for the buyer to find their way.
Companies like Amazon and Apple do a great job of eliminating customer friction points. They delight their customers and they have issues just like the rest of us. Just the other day I ordered some drinking glasses from Amazon. When they arrived, one was smashed to bits. It was clear that the packaging was insufficient. I went online to request a refund. Amazon processed it quickly and refunded me immediately (no waiting until they received the package back). That was delightful.
My experience with that transaction set me up for less friction to future purchases.
Keep your processes grounded. Examine the places where your customers might encounter friction and shore them up. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to be better than your competition.
Don’t get stuck in your out-dated business model.
It’s a complicated time and businesses unwilling or unable to adapt their models will experience difficulties. For instance: why didn’t the Yellow Pages come up with Google? Why didn’t the taxi companies invent Uber? Because they got stuck in their business models, their processes and their own thinking. They didn’t consider the world from their customers’ viewpoint. They were unable to empathize with the customer and didn’t recognize the friction points.
How to Reduce Customer Friction Points
In order to create a frictionless journey for your customer, examine the cornerstones of your business processes. Your customers are looking for signposts on the road to the sale so, plan for their signposts. Plan for their next steps by maintaining empathy and thinking like the customer in these areas:
- Content. Website, blog, social media, and advertising all require great content to generate leads and convert sales. Reduce friction points by thinking like your customer. Supply them with the knowledge it takes to make the right purchase decision. Your website and landing pages should communicate exactly what your customers want to know, in the most distilled form possible.
- Customer Experience. A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is. It’s what consumers tell each other it is. From your marketing touch points to completed transactions to repeat purchases, a positive customer experience drives your business. Give them something to talk about.
- Your People. Salespeople and support staff can very often neglect to see the importance of the transaction through the customers’ eyes. They get busy and fail to realize that the transaction they’re facilitating is a milestone in that customers life. Provide your people with gentle reminders to approach sales with empathy. They’ve certainly experienced a milestone purchase in their life too!
- Relationships. The simple reality is that relationships with current and repeat customers obliterate friction. One of the largest points of friction is lack of trust. Relationships that are nurtured instill trust and can often be the reason someone buys.
By understanding your customers’ pain points and eliminating friction, you provide a positive experience that matters along each stage of the buying process. Isn’t the shortest, most effective route to the sale always the best one?