It’s been a while since I talked about the concepts of friction and convenience. Our customers have learned what it’s like to have a friction-free, no-hassle, convenient experience. They love doing business with the companies that make it easy. If it’s easy to switch companies, they are quick to switch when the experience is less than convenient.
Perhaps the biggest friction point of all with customers is making them wait and disrespecting their time. I recently shared the stage with Jeff Nicholson, global head of CRM for Pegasystems, at the PegaWorld users conference in Las Vegas. Our discussion was all about eliminating friction, especially in the customer support world. Simply put, to stay competitive, we must make things easier for the customer. So, here is a list of areas with opportunities to eliminate friction and displeasure for the customer:
- Duration: How long do we make customers wait? It could be on hold for customer support or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Waiting is friction. Wasting our customer’s time is friction. That little recording you hear when you’re on hold should say, “Your call is NOT really that important to us. Otherwise, we wouldn’t make you wait!”
- Memory: I’m always frustrated when I call a customer support number that I’ve called in the past and have to retell my story. Same goes for when I’m transferred to another person. There is no reason for this. Employees should be armed with information about the customer’s past calls, purchases, and any other interaction they have had with the company. Making a customer repeat their story is a waste of time. It’s friction!
- Consistency: Consistency isn’t the problem. It’s lack of consistency. Specifically, I’m referring to inconsistent information. One day I called my cellular provider with a question about an international calling plan. I didn’t like the answer I got, so I called back and a different agent gave me a different answer. My assistant asked me which plan I thought was correct. I jokingly said, “the one with the lower price.” Inconsistent information derails confidence and trust.
- Empowerment: When we talk about empowerment, we’re usually referring to empowering employees to take care of the customer. In this case, it’s empowering the customer to take control of their situation. Self-service tools are a powerful way to take care of the customer’s questions and problems quickly and efficiently. Customers like a good self-service solution.
- Proactiveness: With today’s technological capabilities, why should a customer have to reach out for help to begin with? In many instances, companies can know a customer is having problems before the customer does. Predictive support will soon become a customer expectation.
In truth, there are lots of ways we can eliminate friction for our customers. The above list is a reminder of the most painful points of friction, meant to give you an idea of where to start. So, take a look at your business. Listen to your employees and, most importantly, your customers. Where do they encounter friction? And what can you do to eliminate that? Give your customers the experience they expect and deserve—one that is easy, convenient, and friction-free.