When your customers experience friction along their customer journey, your business loses engagement and potentially even revenue. If you’re not familiar with the term customer journey, think of a roadmap detailing how an individual customer becomes aware of your brand, how they interact with your brand- and beyond. Friction in Customer Experience terms is any time your customers have to stop and think before making a purchase. While using friction strategically is possible, most businesses benefit from making interacting with their company as easy as possible. Companies that eliminate the friction, creating a seamless customer experience, have five critical elements in common. These elements impact all Customer Persona at every interaction along the customer journey, for every company.
What’s makes a customer’s experience seamless?
A seamless customer experience is one in which the customer experiences no friction at, or between, any interaction throughout the customer journey. As Forrester writes, “[A] Seamless customer experience is more than continuity across devices – seams traverse channels, contexts, and time.” This means no matter where they are in the customer journey, your customer should be able to identify where they are and where they’re heading. They don’t have to stop and think, “Why is this here?”, “How do I do this?”, or “What am I supposed to do next?” In seamless experiences, online and offline interactions work together to maximize the efficiency of the journey and the value provided to the customer. Regardless of how flashy & long or short & sweet your customer journey is, a seamless experience is a key to your customers perceiving a good experience.
Why are good Customer Experiences important?
From online reviews to social media, the growing importance of word-of-mouth is no secret. According to Zendesk, “95% of customers tell others about a bad experience and 87% share good experiences.” However, the impact of the customer experience doesn’t start there. Salesforce found, “67% of consumers and 74% of business buyers say they’ll pay more for a great experience.” They also found that “76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.” From the moment a sales starts to the end of their journey, the experience your company creates has a significant impact on your bottom line.
Elements of a Seamless Customer Experience:
Creating an exceptional customer experience is an effective strategy that many small business owners employ to ensure their success and longevity. While every company creates an experience unique to their business, these five elements are crucial elements in every interaction point:
- Consistency – Consistency is key, from your overall marketing message to the detailed information regarding pricing, terms, and conditions. The customer should see and hear the same branding, structure, values, and tone whether they’re interacting with an employee or interacting with your marketing. Each piece of your marketing should work together to meaningfully strengthen your communication of what your product or service does for the customer. Make sure the associated style, images, logos, and other forms of media used in your marketing are consistent throughout the interaction points as well.
- Intuitiveness – All learning curves are barriers to entry. Don’t leave out potential customers by making interacting with you a learning experience. When you design your customer journey with intuitiveness in mind, customers instantly recognize how it works and move forward in their purchase process. This is particularly important on your company’s website. Avoid reinventing widely held design guidelines unless you’re confident you have come up with a better wheel.
- Efficiency – The time spent acquiring and using your services directly impacts your customers’ In most cases, increasing the amount of time it takes negatively affects your customers’ experience. Look no further than the countless products designed to save slivers of time to realize how important an efficient process is. For all interactions from discovery to advocacy, your customers should be able to move as quickly as they want (permitted that’s possible to accomplish). An efficient customer experience considers what processes that impact the customer’s time are genuinely essential and utilizes a variety of strategies to minimize the amount of the customers time impacted.
- Accessibility – Every interaction should be accessible to the highest number of people, devices, and platforms at any time. Engaging your customers where they already are? reduces friction by eliminating the cost of transitioning and makes cross-channel customer experiences seamless.
- Customer-Centricity – Similar to efficiency, customer-centricity means your messaging, processes, and services were all designed with the customer in mind. While efficiency asks what steps aren’t needed, customer-centricity takes this to the next level by asking what could be added that would enhance the customer’s experience.
Making your Customer Experience Seamless:
Prioritizing your most significant opportunities to increase the seamlessness of your customer experience can seem like a daunting task between multiple customer personas, dozens of potential interactions, and possibly even numerous distinct customer journeys. Use the following process to make prioritizing your improvements to your customer experience simple:
- Start with an audit of your customer experience journey. List every interaction a customer might have with your company and group them into stages according to your customer lifecycle.
- Score each element of every interaction from one to five. If you can, interview your customers in-person to gather the intelligence required to score each aspect. If you can’t get the information directly from your customers, make sure to put together a team with a great understanding of your customers’ current goals and pains to come up with your best estimation.
- Sum the total of each element for all interactions. Do this for each persona.
- Sum the total score of each interaction of all personas. Rank the interactions in order from worst scoring (lowest) to best scoring (highest).
- Starting with the worst scoring interaction, calculate the total element score by adding each persona’s score for each element. Rank them in order from worst scoring element to best scoring element. Your rankings will tell you which of the five items are most important to prioritize in future improvements of the interaction.
- Improve the interaction point. Whether you’re making you’re messaging more consistent, your process more efficient and intuitive, reaching new people by increasing access, or just making the interaction more customer-centric, collecting customer feedback is essential to making sure you’ve correctly identified what improvements they want to see most!
- Repeat this process for every interaction point until you’re satisfied you’ve made the experience as enjoyable as cost-effectiveness allows. Make sure to revisit this process on a quarterly or semi-annually basis to continually enhance and adapt the experience you create to your customer’s changing preferences.
Wrapping it Up
While there are tools and software to help you manage the process and get the job done, no matter how advanced technology becomes it will never replace the value provided by creating a meaningful relationship with your customers. Getting direct feedback from your customers can give incredibly powerful insights and guidance for your customer experience improvement efforts. Ultimately, creating a seamless customer experience can lead to more referrals, extend retention rates, increase average sales, and shorten sales cycles, which is well worth investing your time into.