We live in an age where experience dictates loyalty. Whether an experience is a good one or a bad one depends on the amount of friction involved with an interaction between a customer and the brand. The greater the friction, the poorer the experience will be. Removing the friction and the seams from the customer experience, however, can be a significant challenge.
What do we mean by a seamless or frictionless experience?
In a seamless or frictionless experience, a customer has no need to go to any extra effort to complete a transaction or interaction with the brand. The customer can get what they want, when they want it, and have it delivered or presented to them in a way that is convenient for them.
When creating seamless experiences there are three main things to be considered.
- Meeting the customer where they want you to be. A seamless experience means a customer can interact with your brand in any way they choose, whether that’s via a smartphone, tablet, desktop or at a physical outlet.
- Consistency. Regardless of which offline or online channel they choose to use they are presented with a consistent level of prompt service where the customer sees the same branding, values and tone. The information they are presented is consistent, accurate and up to date across channels – there is no need to reupdate or re-explain past interactions.
- Personalisation. What may be a useful or a great experience for one person may not be for someone else. A seamless experience also needs to be a personalised experience.
Data plays a critical role
To create personalised and seamless experiences you need to really understand your customers and their different customer journeys. That means using as much data and insights about them and their experiences as possible.
From this data you can understand their preferences, their previous buying behaviour, preferred methods of communication, and identify the areas in their journey where they are likely to experience roadblocks and frustration.
Customers are increasingly aware that to receive better experiences and higher levels of personalised service they need to share their personal data. They are prepared to share that data if they are confident that their data will be safe and protected and that their privacy will be respected.
They also need to know that they still own the data that they share with companies – and they can change what and how it’s used, whenever they want. Remember, companies are only the custodians of customer data; we do not own it.
You need to have systems in place that allow customers to have complete control of their data. They need to be in control of how and when a company uses their data, in what contexts and how long the company can hold onto that data.
Removing the seams and the friction
Unfortunately, barriers and friction can easily emerge across enterprises and they can be difficult to identify before they cause frustration for a customer.
Friction can come in many forms and impact multiple customer touchpoints and channels. The addition of new customer channels can make existing problems even more complex.
To start unravelling these seams, companies need to put the customer at the heart of everything they do. They need to understand how customers move across multiple channels to complete tasks and request information. Consumers don’t think in terms of channels or company departments – they will only think whether the overall experience they have with your brand is either a good one or a bad one.
The ability to capture and analyse customer feedback in real time is critical to identifying areas that may be frustrating customers. Real-time feedback combined with insights gleaned from your operational data allows executives and CX leaders to fully understand the customer experience. Importantly, it encourages them to be more customer centric in their decision-making processes and the actions they take to resolve issues.
In the last decade or so, we have seen a strong shift where companies are no longer in charge or have control over the buying journey. In that regards power has well and truly shifted to the consumer. Fortunately, however, companies do have control of the experiences they create at every touch point along that journey. In today’s experience economy, companies with the best experiences for customers will see the best results.