How to Eliminate Friction in Your Customer Journey

What Is Friction in the Customer Journey?

When most folks think of friction, they probably think of middle school science class. But if you’re a customer experience professional, “friction” is probably a term you’ve heard whenever your teammates talk about reducing customer churn. Within that context, friction refers to points in the brand experience that can have a long-term impact on customers’ relationship with a business. Friction may even cause some customers to quit a brand altogether.

Why Is It Important to Reduce Friction in the Customer Journey?

Did you know that the average business today loses between 10-30% of its customers annually?

Additionally, research by Carlson Marketing shows that U.S. companies lose 50% of their customers every five years. Multiply the amount of churning customers by the lifetime value (LTV) of the average customer at your organization and losing customers at this rate means losing millions of dollars!

Because of this, it’s essential that brands have an experience program in place that can detect friction, help experience professionals understand the problem(s) creating that friction, and correct them. The result is both a meaningfully improved experience and saved customer relationships. So, without further ado, let’s go over how your organization can ensure it’s eliminating friction across your customer journey.

How Can You Eliminate Friction in the Customer Journey?

#1: Understand The Moments That Matter

Like we said earlier, an important part of reducing friction is knowing about and understanding the moments that matter to customers. Brands can achieve this understanding by mapping out a few of their most important customer journeys. Learning about key touchpoints is one of the best ways to become aware of problems as they arise.

One of the most impactful methods to identify these moments and then reduce friction across your customer journey is InMoment’s Touchpoint Impact Mapping. Touchpoint Impact Mapping is a innovative way of understanding the moments that matter to customers. It is unique because it is based entirely on comment data drawn from customer feedback, ensuring a more accurate view of the customer’s memory of their experience. This creates an emotional picture of the journey that highlights what is most important to customers and also allows our clients to prioritize those moments that matter most to their customers.

Click here to hear how banking giant, Virgin Money, leveraged Touchpoint Impact Mapping to identify a key friction point and then improve its customer onboarding experience!

What’s more, once you’ve identified those high-impact moments, you can use this strategy to immediately begin solving those problems and expediently reduce journey friction. Understanding touchpoints and their drawbacks enables organizations to come up with solutions, implement them, and listen to see how they’re working. Experience practitioners can then point to those changes, and their improvements, when proving their program’s worth.

#2: Talk to Employees

Research has even shown that a highly engaged workforce increases profitability by 21%! So, getting your customers’ take on an experience is clearly important, but many brands, in their rush to do so, overlook chatting with their employees about customer journeys as well. Employees, especially frontline ones, can provide extremely powerful and eye-opening intel about your brand’s experience. How can brands access and leverage that?

The best way for brands to get their employees’ perspective is by letting them constantly submit feedback and ideas in real-time. Rather than relying on, say, an annual survey, organizations should instead utilize experience platforms that give employees a constant voice. This also further allows brands to learn about, and act upon, problems as they emerge in real-time instead of too far down the road for the customer’s liking.

Want to learn more about how employees can help you decrease friction in the customer journey and grow customer loyalty and value? Check out this infographic!

#3: Keeping Tabs on Your Customer Journey

That notion of being constantly aware of journey friction as it happens is at the heart of keeping it suppressed as much as possible. Surveys are important, but this dynamic is another reason why they’re insufficient for reducing journey friction by themselves—a constantly possible problem demands a constantly active solution. Organizations simply cannot achieve that level of awareness otherwise.

Another element of getting a full picture of your experience is leveraging data sources outside of surveys. And that’s going to become crucial in the next few years. Why? Because only 19% of U.S. Gen Z customers are likely to complete a traditional survey.

Instead of relying solely on direct surveys, brands can do this by combining survey listening with other sources of data, like your employees’ perspectives, and putting it against a backdrop of financial and operational information. This approach creates a 360-degree view of your customers and experience, an understanding that your organization can leverage to reduce friction, boost retention, and create a meaningfully improved experience.

Want to learn more about improving customer retention? We just published an entire eBook on the subject—click here to check it out!

How Talking to Past and Present Customers Reduces Future Churn

Reducing churn and retaining a solid base of loyal customers is a constant challenge for brands, which is why setting out to reduce that churn must likewise be a constant company goal. I outlined a variety of churn reduction strategies in my recent point of view document on the subject, but there’s a two-pronged approach that merits an especially close look: talking to past and present customers to reduce future churn.

Talking to Past Customers

You can’t always save customers who have already left your brand for what they believe are greener pastures, but talking to these individuals can yield valuable intel that might save some of your current customer base from doing the same. This methodology is often referred to as win/loss research or Attrition Customer Experience (CX), and its findings are invaluable. Talking to past customers can help brands understand what parts of their experience might be driving customers away, as well as better tell which churn might be controllable or uncontrollable.

Win/loss research also affords brands an opportunity to scout out the competition. Past customers usually aren’t shy about sharing which company they switched to and why they think that competitor suits their needs better. While that criticism might sting a bit, it’s a great way to learn about why customers and prospects choose other companies over you. Thus, talking to customers who’ve already gone out the door is rarely a waste of time.

Talking to Current Customers

Once you’ve discussed your brand experience with past customers, it’s important to incorporate those learnings into saving current, at-risk customers from leaving your organization. Arming yourself with context from past customers can go a long way toward reshaping your approach with current customers, listening to their concerns, and understanding why they may feel one way or another about their own journeys with your brand.

Having a powerful Experience Improvement (XI) platform is a priority to take here too. Tools like sentiment analysis can provide brands powerful intelligence that they can compare with feedback from past customers. Combining all of this information can help brands know not just which touchpoints need improvement, but also how best to meaningfully change those areas to retain current business.

Working Upstream

Combining feedback from past and present customers is one of the best ways that brands can prevent future churn. Organizations can rely on this intelligence to be more proactive about saving at-risk customers, identifying and solving broken touchpoints and other experience issues before they result in a loss. Though this process is work intensive and may not save all of your at-risk relationships, the brands that dedicate themselves to soliciting this feedback from all their customers will come away with less churn, and thus more success, than their peers.

Interested in learning more about reducing customer churn? Click here to read my full-length point of view on the subject and to learn additional strategies for reducing churn at your organization.

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