Friction - "conflict or animosity caused by a clash of wills" - is a natural part of our lives and, in some sense, necessary because we all need to learn from the 'frictive seams' that we experience throughout our lifetime.
From a business and customer perspective, however, friction can be a highly disruptive force. Customer friction and pain points lower the quality of the overall experience and can, at worst, hinder customers from taking certain actions, achieving their goals and becoming loyal.
To highlight the importance of avoiding frictive pain points, check out these statistics:
These stats demonstrate the need for brands to reduce and remove friction. Moreover, they signal that customers crave simplicity, immediacy, and accuracy, which explains why financial technology start-ups with intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, such as Acorns, Tink, Moven, and Simple, have managed to challenge traditional banks. It is becoming increasingly clear that the consumer of tomorrow is expecting better digitisation and visualisation of our finance and our daily lives.
Customers want to be inspired, educated and provided with the right content - at the right time. It’s when all these aspects are combined that brands have the opportunity to create an immersive brand experience where customers can seamlessly interact with a business across a multitude of channels and feel like they’re actually part of the brand - not just a passive receiver of information.
Think about how Nike use both physical products (sportswear and their Fuelband) and services (Nike+ app and Nike Running Clubs) as tools to encourage customers to make a personal transformation and join the brand’s community.
Pain points: are you stressing your customers out online?
One situation where almost everyone experiences friction is when you travel to a new country or city that you haven't visited before. The hardest part of visiting a new place is knowing where to go. Which restaurants serve good food? Which sights are actually interesting and not overcrowded with other tourists? Which shopping locations are interesting and suit my personal style and taste? These are questions that probably all of us can relate to and/or have asked ourselves.
So let me give you an inspiring example of a brand that gets #seamless spot on. The travel app Porter & Sail aims to address these challenges by bringing self-produced, qualitative and visually inspiring content to hotel guests. Porter & Sail have partnered with a range of prominent hotel properties in cities such as Miami, London, Los Angeles, Berlin, New York, Singapore, and Barcelona. Access to the app is exclusively granted to hotel guests staying in those properties.
The idea behind Porter & Sail, according to the founder Caitlin Zaino, was born when she visited exclusive hotels and asked the people at the front desk about which cafés, boutiques, restaurants and bars they recommended. The places she visited rarely lived up to her standard or suited her taste and style, and as a result Zaino felt like there was a huge disparity between the intimate and charming hotels and the advice she was given. Zaino thought that the on-property experience was great, but what was lacking was the phenomenal old school concierge that could give the right advice customised to the right person. It was from those experiences that she got the idea to create a digital concierge - Porter & Sail.
Investing in technology solutions that enable seamless customer journeys
The app gives its users tailored tips, expert recommendations, helps the guests connect with their hotels and enables them to seamlessly arrange their travel plans – via the digital interface. While the guests receive great editorial content and get access to city guides, the hotels are provided with a dashboard which gives them insights about guests’ spending habits and preferences, and, on a meta-level of data, they can explore which venues are the most popular among all of their guests, and why – useful insights for on-property experience or transformation design. Hotels can, of course, use this information as a means to tailor the guest experience and provide exceptional and insight-based service.
What’s fascinating about Porter & Sail is not only that it’s a supplement to the traditional hospitality industry and a tool for them to challenge successful sharing economy startups like AirBnB, FlipKey and HomeAway; it is also bridging the gap between the offline and online experience.
There are, of course, more hotel concierge apps than Porter & Sail out there so we’ll see how they stand out in the competition in the future. Nevertheless, all businesses independent of industry can be inspired by this way of designing a seamless customer journey where the content is context-based, inspiring, authentic and truly helpful.
Smart brands of tomorrow understand the importance of removing friction and creating immersive experiences, and, moreover, investing in technology solutions that enable seamless customer journeys.
So, ask yourself: which friction points are annoying your customers and what you can do in order to reduce and remove them? What technologies can help you weave together the digital and analogue worlds to create a truly seamless experience that distinguishes you from your competitors and turns your customers into brand advocates?
No friction here #seamless
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