The 2020 shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed people into more virtual interactions than ever before. At the same time, emotions were running high worldwide. For customers, the quality of digital experiences became very important, a trend that is continuing into the post-pandemic era. According to Salesforce, 84% percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
Today, “the experience a company provides” means much more than how good its website is. The most crucial intersection between customers and companies is during customer service interactions. What does a good customer service experience mean to the customer?
One way to think about it is in terms of friction. Customer expectations are higher than ever. They want a smooth, frictionless service experience without getting stalled, redirected, or made to wait.
The other party in the customer service experience is the customer service agent. They cannot do their job well if they run into friction accessing client account history and other information. If they have to jump from screen to screen, it causes a lag and may confuse them.
Agents need support because customers don’t want to jump through hoops to get their answers. Let’s understand more about how a Frictionless Customer Experience can help improve customer satisfaction.
What Is a Frictionless Customer Experience?
Friction is any point in the customer’s journey with a company where they hit a snag that slows them down or causes dissatisfaction. In the most basic concept, providing frictionless customer service means tracking the customer journey and enhancing the customer experience.
We’ll cover the essentials for a frictionless customer service experience (CX), but it is important to note that friction may also exist in other departments. For example, a marketing team that hasn’t coordinated the logistics of a promotion with the fulfillment or website teams may launch a buggy, frustrating experience.
Sales teams who don’t track and organize the prospect journey will frustrate those that turn into customers. Customer feedback will suffer if account services or customer service reps don’t have the background on the account.
Frictionless experience is a factor in the overall customer experience (CX), or customer journey. CX refers to the customer’s total experience, or journey, with the company from pre-sale to repeat purchases and interactions going forward. Keep in mind that the details, features, and benefits of different customer service options all contribute to the overall CX, or customer journey.
Adam Toporek, Speaker and Author of Be Your Customer’s Hero, says:
“While some parts of the customer experience might be more determinant than others, each part of the experience has the potential to negatively impact the quality of the overall customer experience.”
In practical terms, customer service reps must have a complete, global view of the customer’s journey at their fingertips to provide enhanced frictionless experiences for customers. Kayako’s Single View provides customer service agents with an integrated view of the customer’s journey from different channels.
Why Is a Frictionless Customer Experience Important?
Frictionless customer experiences are important because they affect all revenue-related customer touchpoints – customer lifetime value, revenue, referral reputation, and customer churn.
Gartner reports that 96% of customers experiencing high friction with a company are more likely to become disloyal, purchase less in the future, and spread negative information to discourage others from becoming customers. On the flip side, IBM studies show that posts from happy customers sharing their CX experience on social media are more influential for brand reputation than paid advertising.
Happy customers share their experiences and provide referrals, but they are also willing to pay more for good service. Companies providing frictionless customer service can charge up to a 16% price premium on products and services. 43% of all consumers would pay more for convenience, and 42% will pay for a friendly, welcoming experience.
For example, customers don’t want to wait on hold to complete a simple task they could do themselves. Self-service options have a double benefit – they leverage automation, allowing the customer to help themselves quickly, and free up CS reps from having to perform easily automated tasks.
What Causes Friction Within the Customer Experience?
The main points of customer friction are those that deal with the customer service reps’ access to the case information, how long it takes to resolve their case, and how proactive the agent is. Here are some factors to watch for:
- Does the customer feel like the company knows the details of their case?
- Being on hold too long. If customers have to wait on hold for a simple request they could do themselves, 14% will consider leaving, and 13% of customers have zero tolerance for being on hold and will not wait at all.
- Inconsistency of information. Are reps on the same page, or does the answer vary depending on who they talk to?
- Do customers have to repeat the same details over and over again? Most of us have had the frustrating experience of typing in a long account number while on hold, only to have the agent ask us to repeat it.
- Poor self-service. People like to help themselves, but frustrating self-service options can feel worse than being on hold. Kayako’s Self-Service option allows customers to help themselves quickly and efficiently.
- Feeling lost. Can the customer quickly check the status of their query?
It is impossible to consistently offer good customer experiences without empowering service reps and enhancing their experience. Here are some warning signs of friction for your customer service reps.
- Employees shouldn’t have to sign on to numerous logins for apps that don’t helpfully communicate with each other.
- How many screens do your reps have to access daily? How many times do they switch apps? Cognitive studies show that switching attention can negatively affect focus and performance. A unified interface can help.
- Manual data entry.
- Systems that don’t track customer journey information.
- Not empowering agents enough to solve problems and avoid transferring customers.
- Nonexistent or poor self-service options so that customers are annoyed from the very beginning of the conversation.
- Time-consuming internal reporting to close cases.
How To Create a Frictionless Customer Experience?
What exactly makes a customer happy? What do they really want? A PwC study said that nearly 80% of American consumers say that speed, convenience, helpful employees, friendly service, and easy payment in the buying process are what consumers want today. Frictionless delivery occurs when companies consistently deliver a customer experience that includes those components.
IBM suggests that one area to pay attention to is onboarding. A botched onboarding process results in fewer future purchases and more negative word of mouth from customers. Companies can consider that spending resources on onboarding are a “forward driving” investment.
One common frustration is customer back and forth, spending time in the wrong place, not being able to connect smoothly with help, or being transferred to a new person who doesn’t’ know the case history. This situation is frustrating for the customer and puts employees in a very tough spot.
The ability to communicate and reassure the customer that you understand the context of their issue can go a long way toward reducing friction. Using AI tools can help companies scale personalized experiences to thousands of customers.
Sometimes the answers to customers’ questions are in another department or with a vendor. In the past, this expertise was difficult, if not impossible, to access promptly. Kayako’s Collaborators Feature allows customer service agents to access other experts and stakeholders inside and outside the company to report back to the customer with the most current information possible.
Have you ever been in a customer service loop where you had to explain your issue to different people twice in the same call? If so, you can see that this is very frustrating from the customer’s point of view.
The solution is to empower your customer service reps by capturing the customer’s entire journey on one screen so they can deliver proactive, customized support. Kayako’s Single View is a good example of a tool that enables a unified detail of a customer’s progress. Single View integrates information across platforms and apps.