Difficult experiences can ruin the customer journey and drain productivity. Improve CX by making interactions as frictionless as possible.
Today’s customers experiences finely tuned user journies every day. They know how easy it is to hire a rideshare company, get food delivered to their front door, or any number of other experiences.
They also know when a customer experience has too much friction. These difficult experiences might not sound too problematic on the surface, but they can create real bottlenecks and completely transform customer behavior. Streamlining the customer journey and cultivating truly frictionless CX is key to unlocking premiere customer satisfaction and loyalty.
“Streamlining the customer journey and cultivating truly frictionless CX is key to unlocking premiere customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Many customer interactions — changing account information, registering an account or product, inquiring about detailed information, and more — consist of user journies customers would rather avoid. If a task requires calling customer service and might force a customer to wait on hold for an unknown amount of time, many customers will simply put off the task. In fact, a recent survey found 3 in 10 Americans would rather watch paint dry than be put on hold.
I recently changed my bank account. As part of that process, I found myself confused over when each filing term began and ended. Finding the answer seemed rather easy — just call and ask. There was no online FAQ or guide, but customers call customer service at every business. It doesn’t seem that inconvenient to replicate that journey on the surface. Because of compounding friction in the user journey, however, the task took much longer than it should have to accomplish. The first time I called was disappointing. I happened to call around 6:30 one evening after I finished dinner. My new bank phone lines are only open until 4 P.M. I needed to call back between 8-4 on a weekday.
The second time I called proved difficult as well. With a busy work schedule, I managed to carve out enough time to call the next day between meetings. The bank’s IVR greeted me with a scary message: “We are experiencing an unusual amount of calls. Please be patient while we direct your call.” I didn’t know how long I would be on hold, but I did know it would be an unusually long time. I tried to stick it out but knew I needed to get back to my next meeting. I didn’t have time to wait an undefined amount of time, especially if it was extra long. I hung up.
At this point, my customer journey had become long, convoluted, annoying, and forced me to adapt my schedule and customer habits to fit the bank’s needs. This can be deadly to customer satisfaction. I had a fairly simple question that wouldn’t take more than 2 minutes to answer and was going on 48-hours without even being able to ask anyone for help. I was an unhappy customer.
The Danger of Compounding Friction
The journey was full of friction. I ended up putting off calling back for a few days. The call was going to be inconvenient and I had more important things to be doing with my workdays. About a week later I skipped the beginning of my lunch break to make sure I had enough time and waited on hold until I could ask my question. It took longer to verify my identity to the agent than it did for them to answer my question.
What my bank failed to realize is the compounding effects of friction in the customer journey. The original point of friction frustrated me, but when I ran into further friction I became exasperated and my customer journey became convoluted. To prevent destructive customer journies from eating into customer satisfaction and loyalty, businesses must focus on removing all friction from their CX. Having to call an agent for any customer service question can seem like only a minor inconvenience on the surface, but when examined from the perspective of the customer, the friction of calling, waiting on hold, and building one’s schedule around inconvenient CX is revealed as unnecessary in the age of automation and convenience.