Customer Friction

Any negative experience a customer has along their journey is considered customer friction. By identifying friction points along the buyer’s journey, organizations can proactively avoid or eliminate them, increasing the lifetime value of a customer (LTV) and decreasing the cost of acquisition (CAC).

What You Need to Know About Customer Friction

Customer Friction points in the buyer’s experience has the power to increase attrition and decrease loyalty. Neither of those are desirable for sustainable, predictable growth. Nor will they help your organization push upwards on the S Curve of Business.

To pinpoint where you must focus your efforts and where you can proactively resolve friction in the customer’s experience, you must take a full and empathetic look at what your buyer’s experience.

Identifying Customer Friction Requires Empathy

In order to identify where there’s friction within your organization, you must first know what your customer is thinking, feeling, saying, and doing when they’re approaching your business to solve a problem.

Empathy mapping lets you get between the ears of your target audience to better understand their pains, motivations, and desired solutions. In doing so, you can then map data to each of those key areas, to see where your organization is meeting the mark and where there’s friction.

In addition, identifying your employee’s needs can help you better understand how well they’re meeting the mark for your customer’s needs. If there’s low employee sentiment in certain areas, you could be unintentionally inspiring customer friction.

Addressing Friction Along the Modern Marketing Funnel

Customer’s organically travel a high-level path towards working with and entrenching themselves with an organization. We call this path the bow tie funnel because of its shape.

On the left of this modern marketing funnel, the customer is traveling to get more familiar with the organization, analyzing how the company can solve their needs. On the other side, the buyer is becoming more and more vested in the organization, moving further along from adopting the product to becoming a brand ambassador.

Friction at any point in this funnel can stop the forward progression, erode retention, and cause a buyer to go to a competitor.

Consumers today have high expectations — and for good reason. We, as buyers, have become accustomed to high service levels and instant responses from an organization. Competing in today’s modern ecosystem requires that an organization identify these new behavioral norms and show up for their customers in just the right place at just the right time without causing any friction.

But identifying customer friction points is not for the faint of heart. It requires a close analysis of what’s happening both internally and externally at every single touchpoint along the buyer’s journey. That in-depth analysis means you must have data loops running and a solid process for filtering that incoming data into actionable tips that will empower your team to identify problems before they arise or escalate.

Types of Customer Friction

There are many areas of your business where a customer could experience friction. They key is to find those areas and identify solutions that will allow you to smooth the experience. Here are some of the most common areas of customer friction.

Unresolved Pain Points

When a customer has a pain point, they look to organizations or businesses to resolve those woes. But, if an organization leaves a customer’s pain unresolved or causes other pain points without offering a resolution, it creates friction in the customer’s experience.

Divergences in Employee Experiences

When an employee feels negatively about their job, it’s hard to hide those negative sentiments. Addressing employee concerns can reduce customer friction points by empowering team members to solve problems more efficiently while building brand loyalty.

Ignored Customer Concerns

Modern customers respond well to instant gratification. We live in a time when consumers demand quick feedback from organizations. If your company ignores a customer concern, there will inevitably be friction because the customer will feel disempowered to resolve that problem on their own. As a result, they’ll likely go to a competitor who can help.

Misaligned Platforms

Technology is prolific in today’s world. From the way consumers find businesses to the way those concerns are resolved matter requires the right platform to address the need. If a platform is misaligned or if technology used by the organization is outdated, it can disrupt the customer’s end experience causing friction.

Customer Experience (CX) Terms