Remember the old experience of renting a movie?
You used to have to get your winter boots and coat on, warm up the car, shovel the driveway, head to the video store, and walk around for twenty minutes before you found something worth bringing home. Then, when you were done with the movie, you had to repeat the process just to take the darn thing back.
Customers want a great experience, but more importantly they want things to be easy. Many have said that with the rise of our digitally-connected world the very notion of customer loyalty is dead and to an extent, they’re right!
But it’s not that the customers don’t have a desire to be loyal, it’s that most companies are STILL making it too hard for their customers to be loyal because of ridiculous businesses practices and poor customer experiences.
Companies continue to exasperate their customers by insisting on making the customer experience everything but easy.
While it’s become an overused business buzzword, consider any major industry disruption over the past ten years. Think of the ‘overused’ examples like Uber, or Air B&B, or Netflix, or Zappos. In almost every case, they took an existing customer experience (and usually a frustrating one) and simply made it easier. Because of that, they’re almost all flooded with loyal customers.
The companies that thrive when it comes to customer loyalty continue to reduce friction throughout each stage of the customer experience and continue to make things easier for their customers.
This is what I call the frictionless experience.
But consider lesser-known examples as well, like Global Entry or TSA Precheck, which have made the airport travel experience, at the very least, tolerable again. They’ve reduced friction, and they’re gaining legions of loyal followers.
I’m reminded of yet another example where a business I frequent sent me a text message to let me know that I could take advantage of a new promotion by “simply” clicking a link. I clicked the link only to learn that unless I could print off the promotion, it wouldn’t be accepted because they would only accept physical copies of the promotion!
In a recent New York Times article titled Why Tech Support Is (Purposely) Unbearable we’re told about some of the usual suspects when it comes to poor customer service, and how they use a “cost-per-contact” model to determine how long they can spend with a customer on a customer service call. If you guessed companies like AT&T, Comcast, or Verizon, you win!
But what we have here is just another example of how poor customer experiences make it almost impossible for customers to be loyal. The wireless industry is notorious for not giving a damn, but for the rest of us, we have to give a damn!
Are you rushing to get off the phone with your customers, or ensuring they get what they need?
Here’s your key challenge for this week.
Look at your overall customer experience from the point of the first contact until long after the sale and think about the friction.
What areas of the experience are so filled with friction that you’re abrading away your customer relationships? And where can you remove it, thereby oiling your customer relationships?
Customer loyalty is being enjoyed by thousands of businesses who understand that achieving it can be relatively simple.
You can too, but only if you stop making things so hard.