When we talk about customer service, we are considering every element that needs to be in place to consistently meet, and ideally exceed, expectations. In most cases, it is about clearly understanding what customers want and providing it efficiently.
The process of serving each customer should flow. When issues arise that hinder this flow, they are known as friction points. These cause tension, be it a minor frustration or a significant barrier. In this article, I’ve identified three common friction points and how to resolve them.
Is Technology Beneficial or a Barrier?
The majority of businesses make use of technology in order to make processes more efficient and cost-effective. From online bookings to self-service checkouts, technology has certainly made it quicker and more convenient for consumers to undertake a wide range of actions.
Whilst largely beneficial, it is important to remember that not every customer is willing, or able, to use technology. Not everyone carries a smartphone, has a home computer or wants to scan their shopping. What we need is choice.
With choice, your customers can opt for the fast-track option or enjoy the interaction with a real person. If they wish to reserve a table, arrange a boiler service or see their doctor, they should be able to choose to book an appointment online, call or pop in.
Technology does help to remove many friction points, but it can also be the cause. The answer is to provide options that allow customers to access services in the way they prefer.
Do Customer Service Assistants Help?
As customers, there are times when we need a little extra help. We may have specific questions, need advice or wish to check certain information. At this time, a lack of available assistance is a friction point.
Online, your company contact details should be clearly displayed throughout the website and you may also have a Frequently Asked Questions page or a Live Chat option. In-store, employees should be easy to identify and approachable.
Being approachable is one thing, but it is also vital that questions can be answered. To achieve this, staff should be well trained and knowledgeable about the products, services and processes. Ill-informed staff are definitely a friction point.
In some organisations, the focus is on a company agenda, rather than customer service. Employees may be provided with a script or targets, which means that they are not genuinely focused on meeting the customer’s needs. Rather than assist, this can accelerate the customer’s frustrations.
To iron out this friction point, make sure that it is straightforward for customers to speak with an approachable, knowledgeable and helpful member of your team. Effective recruitment, comprehensive training and recognition for great service will help your team to deliver customer service excellence.
Starting from Scratch at Every Interaction
Doesn’t it feel great when you pop into your favourite shop or call a supplier and they remember little details; your name, a piece of news you shared or something about your previous order?
The opposite of this is when there is no memory or record of you. You ring up, explain the purpose of the call, get transferred and have to repeat a request over again. You call back shortly after and speak to someone new, so have to start from scratch. Not only is this a waste of your time, but it also makes you feel incredibly unimportant. It is even worse if the information you need to share is personal or complex.
Good communication is at the heart of resolving this friction point. In smaller organisations, the personal touch can be easy to achieve if you take a bit of time to communicate with customers. In larger companies, maintaining records with information that specifically helps your organisation to help serve your customers can do the trick.
Identify and Eliminate Friction Points
The odd issue may be forgiven, but customers will soon go elsewhere if friction points make it challenging to get what they want. To avoid losing out to the competition, it is useful to identify and minimise friction points. Seamless interactions will certainly put your company in a positive light.