Creating a consistent customer journey that narrows the gaps between digital and real world environments often means identifying friction points, understanding why they exist and having the resources in place to fix them quickly. From the standpoint of the customer, a smooth omnichannel experience is characterized by four qualities – reliability, relevance, value, and trust.
These lenses speak to the cohesive brand experience, to the online and real world environments you create, and to the service interactions within each. It’s important to remember that friction – like wait times or even personal interactions between staff and customers – is largely a perceived reality. For example, you may not have any actual technical issues in an e-commerce checkout page, but a confusing set of questions in the payment form could easily be perceived as a hurdle and derail the transaction altogether. Or you may have an excellent clinical reception staff and a robust online scheduling app, but the patient who is unfamiliar with online calendars and walks into your clinic feeling poorly, then is told to wait may perceive a significant amount of interference (and frustration).
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A patient or customer is much less likely to blame themselves for an issue they’re having in their journey and much more liable to seek out an alternative provider. This is particularly true for higher income customers, who have more ability to make a choice between providers if one does not offer the kind of experience they’re seeking and expecting. 
Despite the enormous role that perception plays in the customer experience, there are steps you can take to erase those hurdles and amplify what is working well. The efforts begin with investing in learning about the customer and paying attention to their actions and non-actions at each point in their journey. Approach friction from a macro standpoint (how does it impact your total business) and a micro standpoint (what’s happening for the customer at each point) to gain the clearest sense of what you can control, and how your efforts are likely to shape the experience.
Business Intelligence Lowers Friction and Raises Revenues
By integrating business intelligence resources across the multiple channels in your customer journey, you can take build actionable, real-time insights that will help you (quickly) fix issues and friction points, and amplify what is working. The effort is worthwhile – a McKinsey customer satisfaction survey reveals the direct correlation between customer journey quality and the bottom line. Specifically, high levels of satisfaction can increase total revenues upwards of 15% and lower the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.
A priority in using integrated business intelligence is to pinpoint where friction exists. Looking at data from online and real-world engagements can reveal interruptions in the natural activities and behaviors – what is slowing or preventing a customer from accomplishing their goal? How is the online or onsite environment laid out to enable their success – or how is it preventing it?
Reliability, relevance, value, and trust
Go back to those four qualities of a smooth omnichannel experience – reliability, relevance, value, and trust. How is each one supported in the micro-experiences and how is each ultimately perceived at the conclusion of the customer’s interaction with your brand? If you can answer those questions, you can put the functionality, features, and interactions in place to optimize them.
Start with the biggest friction point – the connection between your online and onsite environments. It’s called a “digital divide” for a reason. Use a fully integrated customer journey solution to streamline and centralize your business intelligence points so you can ensure that you are sustaining a consistently high level of reliability, relevance, value, and trust as your customers move between the two environments.
Online, for example, give visitors reasons to stay on your website without complicating the customer experience. Focus on engaging them, serving up products and solutions they may not have considered on their own, but that reflect the kinds of decisions they have made previously. Then take them into your physical environment with the same mindset, using integrated tools like online and mobile scheduling, communication management solutions, check-in solutions and alerts informed by a centralized data set to communicate useful value and a brand they trust to serve their needs consistently.
If you have identified where friction points could exist and you understand what your customer needs and how they are likely to pursue that need, you can create and offer value – rather than waiting for the customer to ask for it. Invest in learning about the customer. Pay attention to what drives action and what drives them away – build positive and lasting connections with customers who will perceive value – not friction – in your brand.
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