As buzzwords go, this one is top of charts currently – A ‘frictionless’ customer experience encompassing the erstwhile used terms such as seamless, digital, effective customer experience.
What is frictionless customer experience? As a concept, it is simple – it refers to removing anything in the customer journey, it could be about products or services irrespective of the industry, or anything that creates friction and grit which settles in the journey of the customer leading to dissatisfaction and eventually churn. In today’s hyper-connected world, any small delay in the customer journey, is enough to make the customer look away at other options. And there is always another option.
In 2017, Mckinsey mentions “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.”, Forrester states that 72% of businesses claim improving customer experience to be their top priority and Bain and Co seals the discussion by saying that companies that excel at customer experience grow revenues at 4-8% above the market.”
The struggle however is to peg the exact moment a single customer’s experience is expected to start and end, as the customer has myriad channels to engage with, and several ways to complete the purchase or avail a service. Complexity therefore arises as every aspect of this journey has to be closely monitored and maintained, keeping the number of handovers to a minimum and making the entire experience smooth.
As a customer, how many of us have faced the scenario of calling a call centre, holding on for fifteen minutes, then having all the details of our problem explained to us and after what seems like eternity, we are passed on to yet another customer service agent where we have to repeat the entire story all over again with extra details, simply because the service provider hasn’t invested in a technology that can make handovers easy and reduce angst?
Handshake between various parts of the channels providing customer experience is just one aspect of the frictionless customer journey. While researching for an upcoming trip to Orlando, I read about the MagicBand provided by Disney in its theme parks, a wrist band which doubles up as the room key, the ticket to the parks, fastpass access and even can be used to receive the souvenir photos on the mobile app. No more having to queue all wet and flapping at the end of a water ride and waiting for your pictures to show up on a screen! Excellent use of IoT to make everything available to the customer with a single interface.
A friend of mine visited the UK from India and one of the tasks on his list was to close an old bank account in Barclays. He had put aside two days for this job. He went in to a small branch of Barclays and was out within twenty minutes, in disbelief. His account had been closed and the remaining money transferred to another account. He was surprised by the lack of paperwork, lack of questions, as the same process in India would have been much longer and a very different experience with several security hurdles.
Which is all very well, but that does bring up the question about security. We can make things easy for the customer with features such as one touch clicks on amazon, contactless transactions, etc. but what about security? If we are making it easy for the customer, then isn’t it becoming easy for a fraudster too? If we remove the checks and other security hoops which are mandatory, who is watching and doing the policing?
The answer lies in imbibing the right technology to offer a better and safer customer experience.
Automation of back end processes can reduce errors and also enable a quicker time to complete
tasks, leaving the service provider able to concentrate on the softer aspects of customer experience which are often forgotten. Being able to handle customer information residing in disparate applications and providing the relevant information quickly to a customer is also critical whilst trying to engage with the customer, and not losing them to another channel or another provider altogether. Automation whether attended, or unattended, is abundantly available and it is becoming increasingly easy to adopt technologies. Once on the journey of automation, cognitive and AI based chatbots and other interactions can be leveraged so that frictionless customer experience gets closer to reality.