How To Break Through Customer Friction

Customer friction is the bane of a business’s existence when it comes to website sales. In short, customer friction can kill sales by making it more difficult for a customer to complete an order. It leads to customers leaving your website and not clicking the final “order” button. Customer friction means lost leads and sales.

As a marketer or business owner, your job is to eliminate this friction and make the customer’s experience as smooth as possible. But first, you’ll need to understand customer friction and what causes it. Plus, you’ll need to examine specific areas in your sales funnel where improvement is needed. This understanding requires information, and thankfully, that information is available.

What Is Customer Friction?

Customer friction is defined as anything that stops a customer from making a purchase.  Friction can come from many sources. This includes a poorly designed website, difficulty navigating across a website or app, or confusion about a product or service. At its most impactful, friction stops someone from moving through your sales funnel. They won’t learn more about your business or click that “purchase” button. 

Customer friction is often the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll have a customer ready and willing to complete a sale. However, something on your website stops them from completing the transaction, and they don’t complete the purchase.  There are many causes of customer friction. As such, your job is to identify and reduce all potential sources of customer friction. Thankfully, you can reduce friction in various ways, including the deployment of robust marketing automation tools, more customized landing pages, and an active customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

How Can You Identify Friction?

Like most issues on the internet, there’s an easy answer here: Data. Simply put, you need the data. Without it, you’re flying blind.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

If you don’t know your target audience, you won’t know what they need and what they’re looking for. This lack of information can lead to unsuccessful efforts to reduce customer friction. Why is this important? You need to know who is using your website, what their objective is, and how you can target them. For example, you have a brick-and-mortar store and a website, but you know your younger demographic uses the website more than your store. It would make sense for awareness and nurturing campaigns to target that more youthful audience. Failure to do so is a form of marketing friction, and it can cost you sales. 

Different friction-related questions are not mutually exclusive. For example, knowing your target audience is great, but you also need to know where they are feeling this friction in the sales funnel. Are the search results on your webpage not accurate enough? Is your app difficult to navigate or too slow? Does your CRM fail to record data appropriately? Are there other technical issues that need to be addressed?

Who Is Feeling Friction?

Not all segments of your customer base will feel friction the same way, and it is vital to recognize that and use data to understand it. Is friction exclusively related to customers who are buying a specific product? Does this friction occur across your entire website? Are there slices of your target audience with which you are struggling to connect? Data is needed to answer this question, but once you figure out who is feeling friction, you can answer the fundamental question of how you can reduce it. 

Where In the Sales Funnel Are They Feeling this Friction?

A sales funnel — be it internet-based or one that occurs at a brick-and-mortar shop — can be a long process. It starts with a customer hearing about your location (digital or physical), entering it, deciding to purchase, and checking out. There are many steps for this process to go wrong, and your job is to find out where it is going wrong and why. Again, website analytics should help determine this. You can also use the data to see if there are certain mediums where this issue is more serious. This is the process of Sales Funnel Management, and it’s critical to figure out where the friction is occurring in the funnel. 

What Can Your Business Do to Reduce Friction?

Simply put, you need data to answer this question. This data may come from customer surveys or website analytics. Once you have that data, you can identify the following critical pieces of information:

  • Common Sources of Friction
  • Effects of Friction
  • Changes that Can be Made

Common Causes of Customer Friction and How to Fix Them

There is no shortage of potential issues when it comes to customer friction. Thankfully, whatever friction issues you’re experiencing have likely been seen and dealt with by others before. Once you have the correct data, you can figure out what changes must be made to create a smoother customer experience and increase your sales. 

A Complicated Check-Out Process

The problem: One of the most essential aspects of a sales funnel and reducing customer friction is making it as easy as possible for a customer to see a product and make a purchase. Ease of purchase is why Amazon uses one-click shopping: A customer can click one button and make a purchase with previously saved information. If you have a complicated sales process that requires a customer to engage in multiple steps before finalizing a purchase, you’re providing ample opportunity for the customer to leave your website and not make the purchase.

The data: High bounce rate and cart abandonment. This means a customer enters your website, places an order in their cart, but leaves before completing the sale. Different industries will have different cart abandonment rates, so it’s difficult to say what a high rate of cart abandonment is. 

The solution: Simplify your checkout process as much as possible to ensure that a customer goes from “I want to purchase that” to “Order placed” as quickly as possible. Fortunately, there are a variety of merchant solutions available, including integrating systems from Google and Facebook. You will also want to keep your checkout process as short and straightforward as possible and ensure transparency — from the start — of any taxes or fees. 

Slow Website or App

The problem: Your website or app loads too slowly to keep a customer’s attention. Instead of waiting, your customers will navigate away. Technical issues may occur at any step on your website, including when they first load your app or arrive at your website. If your website doesn’t load, a customer simply isn’t going to be patient and wait. With the sheer number of purchase options available to them, they will move on.

The data: There is no shortage of website speed checkers available. Furthermore, your website designer or developmental team should tell you if your website is loading slow and identify the solutions needed to improve this problem.

The solution: Working with a professional, identify the technical problems that keep your website from optimizing. Common examples include complicated code, too large file images, or broken links. 

Poor Customer Service

The problem: This can occur in a digital or real-world setting, but the problem is the same: A customer may have an issue or question, and they may not find the answer. If a customer is unsure about a service, they’ll walk away. Your job is to answer their questions, or potentially even answer their questions preemptively, before they even ask them. Remember, unsatisfied customers will not buy from you, and they might leave negative reviews on other websites or tell those in their social circle to avoid your business. 

The data: Marketing surveys can help you determine if your customers are happy with the service. Of course, this can be harder in a digital context, so the data you’re looking for will likely change. For example, high bounce rates from your website mean your customer is leaving your webpage entirely. This is clearly indicative of a lost sale and a wider problem. Other indicators, such as negative customer experiences, are also good indicators of poor customer service.

The solution: The solution to these issues can exist across multiple areas. On the one hand, you’ll need to better train your in-person staff to ensure they can answer questions and have the right attitude toward your customers. On the other hand, if there are digital issues, you could consider adding a “question and answer” section to your webpage. You may also want to add an AI chatbot that can answer questions or give your staff a chance to do the same. These marketing automation tools can ensure quick responses to questions and accurate answers. 

Lack of Reviews

The problem: When it comes to making purchases from a website, customers expect reviews. Customer reviews can help improve sales by showing that a company is honest, authentic, and transparent about its products or services. Websites without customer reviews risk looking like they’re not making any sales, or the business is afraid of feedback. These expectations exist due to a noticeable shift over the past decade. Basically, customers expect reviews.

The data: Data shows a high exit rate. This means your customers leave your website and go to an entirely different website after viewing multiple pages on yours. This means potential customers aren’t happy with the products you have to offer. Such an issue is fatal to your sales funnel. 

The solution: You need to implement a customer review system on your website. Don’t be afraid of bad reviews. Instead, use them to improve your product or service and respond proactively to questions or concerns raised by others.

Lack of Useful Content

The Problem: Customers may have questions about your products. This may involve the use of the product, warranty, returns, or other issues. They scan your website, looking for information, but they can’t find it. At that point, they navigate away from your website.

The data: Individual customer experiences may look like this: A customer arrives at a page for a product or service, scrolls, maybe clicks on a few links, and then navigates away. You will almost certainly have a low dwelling time, as you are failing to create enough useful content to keep someone engaged. Odds are good that you will also have lower pageviews, as you won’t be capturing people in your sales funnel at all. 

The solution: Gather more data from your customers or product vendors on what types of questions customers ask when they seek out a product. Tweak your website accordingly. You can also add specific modules, like “Q&A,” about your products. You can also add a place for customers to type questions and leave answers. This is an excellent example of crowdsourcing the answers to important questions. 

Customer Friction Can Be Solved – Data Can Solve It

As you can see, customer friction can be fatal to your business. Fortunately, you can resolve it. With the right data points, you can identify the sources of customer friction, sales friction, and marketing friction. You can then use that information to minimize these issues and guide you to better decisions in the future. 


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