Deep dive into customer friction and how to reduce it

Customer Experience

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Customers are great at telling you their pain points. But are you actually listening?

The most powerful insights you can pull from customer feedback is where they’re struggling or experiencing friction in their user experience with your brand. It doesn’t come from a high-level read of your suggestions box, feature requests, or even bug reports. It comes from a deeper analysis of voice of customer feedback like surveys, support call transcripts, social media, and other customer data sources to understand the true friction points.  

Reducing customer friction not only makes for more satisfied customers, but it can also significantly impact your business. We’ll deep dive into customer friction, discuss how to identify friction’s effects on your business, and provide actionable tips to remove customer friction points in your organization proactively (or reactively). 

What are customer friction points?

Customer friction is any point in the customer journey that makes it hard to buy from you, use your products or services, or have a good customer experience. Your loyal customers may accept some friction (for a time) if you take steps to remedy them. However, for new potential customers and customers whom you haven’t earned complete loyalty and trust, these friction points can cause great dissatisfaction and lead to losing these customers. 

The more obstacles you can remove from your customer’s path, the more easy-going experiences you can create. When you remove these friction points, you’re likely to earn increased customer loyalty and the potential increased customer spending and lifetime value.

What are friction points in customer service?

In customer service, any interaction that hinders a customer getting support or the answers they need could be considered a friction point. This includes interactions between support staff and customers, and any inefficiencies in the support process itself (such as difficulty contacting your helpdesk.)

How do you identify customer friction?

The key to business growth and success is to identify where sources of customer friction are. Once they’re identified, you can begin rectifying them with solutions that are in the best interest of your customers and your business.  

The best way to identify customer friction points is to get customer feedback. This feedback can come in many forms, including: 

  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Support call transcripts
  • Social media listening 
  • Website analytics
  • Employee feedback
  • Customer interviews

👉 Learn more about identifying friction and pain points

Impacts of customer friction

Customer friction affects your customers and your company. When your customers experience too much friction interacting with your company or using its offerings, you’re likely to see:

  • Increased customer churn from customers leaving or not returning.
  • Lower customer satisfaction scores from unhappy customers leaving bad reviews in surveys and other customer feedback sources. 
  • Trouble attracting new customers due to having earned a reputation for a bad customer experience.
  • Negative sentiment in social media when customers go on social media to complain about your company.
  • Loss of sales due to all of the above impacts. Returning customers will drop, new customers won’t buy, and you’ll notice a decrease in sales. 

Your goal is to minimize (or eliminate) customer friction points and create positive, memorable experiences for as many customers as possible. When you do, you’ll see increased conversions, potentially higher customer spend, and earn a positive brand reputation.

What are common causes of customer friction?

The good news is if you’re noticing customer friction reports, they’re are likely the result of one (or more) of the following, which you can identify and fix: 

Bad customer service

Your sales and support teams are on the front line. They’re likely the only people having direct, personal contact with your customers and have the power to rectify bad situations or experiences of customer friction early before they irreversibly impact customer satisfaction.

Customers may report a poor customer service experience due to trouble contacting support, long wait times, long time to resolution, or a dislike of how the support rep handled (or mishandled) their ticket. 

Bad product/service

Sometimes, your offering doesn’t solve your customers’ pain points or targets the wrong pain point. When the offering doesn’t perform as the customer expected or doesn’t meet a market need, this can cause friction, and loss of trust in your company, leading to a tarnished reputation. 

Bad usability or design

You may have the perfect solution to your customer’s problems and have excellent customer service, but the product itself might be difficult to use. If there are any roadblocks or struggles in using your offerings or interacting with your digital properties (websites, apps), or even if the design is not “nice” (according to your customers), these friction points can affect the user experience. 

Bad usability can also be corrected by simplifying processes such as reducing the number of clicks people take on your website to find what they need, or by changing the layout or design to make it easier to read for those with visual impairments. Make changes that will remove the friction your customers are reporting.  

Top strategies to minimize customer friction

Once you can identify the points of customer friction in your organization, you can begin removing them and creating a better, smoother customer experience. Here are our top five strategies to reduce customer friction:

Train customer service team adequately

Poor customer service often leads to customer friction. Well-skilled and educated customer service reps can diffuse potential friction before it blows out of proportion. That’s why providing your team with adequate training on your products including emotional intelligence training is well worth the effort. 

Review your design and usability for consistency

If design and usability were mentioned as a high friction point for your customers, take time to review your physical and digital assets (packaging, welcome kits, website, apps, digital resources, marketing materials). Look for ways you can optimize the design, function, and branding to increase on-brand consistency. 

Maybe you received the feedback that “your app is hard to use.” You’ll need to dig deeper to learn which specific features or aspects are causing friction. Gather feedback from multiple sources to learn more about the problem(s). 

To help you, use an AI-driven customer feedback platform like Idiomatic. Idiomatic gathers voice of customer data through multiple integrations and sources to help you identify the most common friction points on an ongoing basis so you can take action quickly. 

👉Learn more about how voice of customer teams can use Idiomatic to better understand customer friction.

Simplify where you can

If your customer friction feedback indicates that your customers find your solutions or processes overly complicated, look for ways you can optimize those systems so the customer can get results quicker. 

For example, your feedback may indicate that new customers struggle to create dashboards on your app. By digging deeper, you can discover the five most commonly used widgets and content people want on their dashboard, and create default or preset dashboards. 

Install a CRM to better manage relationships 

With a robust customer relationship management (CRM) platform, all customer data and activity can be stored in their CRM profiles through automation. When they contact customer support, the rep will have all this information at their fingertips. 

This solution helps the rep provide faster support because they have the customer’s entire history (including the history of past customer support conversations) and can speak directly to these notes, reducing frustrations with customers. 

👉 Get more tips on how to use customer service automations to increase customer satisfaction

Provide easier access to your team

A major cause of customer friction is when a customer can’t contact you with questions or to provide feedback. Similarly, you may already have multiple channels and places they can interact with you, but it may be overly complicated, and customers don’t know which channel to use. 

Consider simplifying the customer service process. When they use your support contact form,  instead of providing ten different contact forms (one for each issue or department), have one form with a dropdown to select their topic. This makes it faster to contact support and easy for you to use automation to route the emails to the right person. In addition, implement AI-driven customer feedback software to help you properly categorize and triage your tickets.

How can businesses effectively reduce customer friction?

Your customers are a rich source of information. They’re the best ones who can tell you their pain points and how they expect your company to meet their needs. They may not know the exact solution to their problem, but when you can gather customer feedback from multiple sources, you can identify the most common sources of customer friction and dig deeper to determine how to remove these roadblocks for your customers. 

Idiomatic takes all your voice of customer feedback data and uses it to identify these pain points for you. You can process large volumes of data at scale and without the potential for human errors. Idiomatic uses machine learning to provide consistent tagging, understanding, and analysis of your data. It will clean your data and provide real-time insights so you can act on urgent customer friction points (such as a bug in your login system) before they become bigger issues affecting more customers. It also provides daily, weekly, and monthly trends to measure customer sentiment for individual topics or issues as you work to remove friction. 

Learn more about using Idiomatic as your customer feedback analysis software with a free, customized demo.

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