The True Cost of Friction in Your Customer Experience

Any level of friction in the buying process, an inconvenience or delay, adds to your customer’s frustration. In today’s world of immediate gratification, if your process for checkout or even learning more about your business isn’t seamless, your customer may choose a competitor.

Approximately 40% of website visitors will leave a site if there’s a 3-second delay in load time. And if the checkout process is too complicated, 87% will abandon their shopping carts. You must capture the attention of your prospects quickly and create a seamless, speedy experience to meet their needs.

Too many channels for seamless communication

You’ve likely added more channels to your marketing outreach and customer communication plans throughout the years, trying to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing consumer. A web chat platform for your website, email for nurture streams, phone calls when necessary, and social media. And that doesn’t even include paid streams like influencers or other digital marketing.

The reality is that all of these channels are hard to staff, hard to centralize, and hard to keep consistent—especially when you’re trying to deliver an omnichannel experience to your customers. Nearly 2 out of every 5 marketers agree that they have too many disconnected messaging tools and it’s impossible to manage them all. And over 40% report that they frequently miss out on leads because messages are lost or fall through the cracks of daily chaos. Your multi-channel strategy is costing you time and money.

But the real truth is this—these channels aren’t even what your customers want anyway.

90% of consumers prefer to engage with a business through texting or another messaging app.

And while businesses are stuck believing that customers prefer email or phone calls over text messaging, consumers will continue to leave businesses that can’t keep pace with modern expectations.

A note about 2-way text messaging vs. short code messaging: while many businesses offer a mass text opt-in for promotions or informational updates, this version of text messaging doesn’t provide the convenience and speed customers expect from a digital experience—two-way conversation.

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The true cost of friction shows up in five key areas

1. You lose warm leads to competitors that rank higher in search results.

Near me searches have increased by 500% in the last two years. If you don’t show up in the top three to five search results, your business is missing out on leads and revenue. What is your process for collecting new reviews so you can feed the search engine with new content? Because of the typical, multiple steps to leave a review, most customers bypass the task unless they had a notably poor experience. Without a simple process that requires little effort from the customer, collecting new reviews can be difficult.

And because Google search uses reviews (and other data) to serve up results, if you don’t prioritize reviews, your opportunity cost of failing to act grows not just every year, but every day. Leads slip through the cracks while your business (and every location) fails to deliver a seamless online experience.

2. Your web conversations don’t convert.

A web chat platform added to your site is the right step in meeting customers desire to speak directly with a brand 24/7. But what happens when the conversation takes too long? Or the answer is too difficult
to verbalize over a messaging platform on a website? And if your customer experiences any type of interruption, be it WiFi shortage or life in general, the conversation is shut as fast as the laptop is closed.

If your web chat is hitting on all the right points—automating FAQs and routing to a live person with every complex question—how are your conversions? If the experience is bad, 40% of consumers will not return to your website. And don’t think that contact us forms or email will be enough. While you need to offer multiple ways to reach out to your customer, multiple options for communication, customers will select the method they like best. And a seamless web chat experience will likely be the most effective.

3. Your payment process is too slow.

Depending on your industry, payment speed can range from an in-person checkout to a mailed invoice. But when asked, regardless of industry, nearly 1/3 of consumers prefer a mobile checkout process. Contactless, convenient, and customized to their payment preference, mobile checkout was built for the modern customer. And, because it’s so quick and easy for a customer to complete a payment on their mobile device, you’ll get paid faster—saving you from late payments, the dreaded collection cycle, and the internal cost of time and money to follow up on each payment.

Remember that 87% of consumers will abandon their shopping carts if the checkout process is complicated? This applies to both online and offline experiences. If you have friction in the checkout, the sale is dead and the lead goes cold. Mobile payments are preferred, so much so that nearly 80% of consumers hope to see businesses continue to offer contactless payment in the post-pandemic world. If you aren’t offering a mobile payment option, your checkout process isn’t as convenient as your customer expects.

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4. You’re losing customers and you don’t know why.

If you’re finding that customers aren’t returning or simply aren’t completing the full buyer’s journey with you—they disappear somewhere in the nurture cycle—your feedback loop is likely stalled or nonexistent. Without a real-time pulse on what’s working and what needs to be changed ASAP, your business will continue to lose customers. When customers run into an issue and they don’t know where to send that information, you’re creating a bad experience which often results in a loss of sale or a negative review.

Without a personalized experience, take a phone tree as an example, frustration mounts as customers are left on hold, lost in a social media direct message, or even forgotten about on a sticky pad note in a manager’s office. And if you’re selling to and targeting Gen Z and millennial customers? If they have a bad experience, they cut ties with brands more than five times a year. They won’t hesitate to cut ties with you.

5. Your systems and channels are as disconnected internally as they are externally.

Consumers today want to connect with brands in a myriad of ways– Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, Google Click-to-Message, WhatsApp, Instagram, and more. But oftentimes these disparate channels are disconnected and even more, internal systems that route messages to the right teams are broken and inefficient.

If your social media manager doesn’t fully update the sales representative about the conversation he/she had with the newest lead, context is lost and the sale may be too. And if your customers are frustrated, it’s likely your internal teams are struggling. A seamless communication platform, according to nearly 90% of employees, would not only increase company profitability, but it would keep over 80% of employees at the company longer.

The ROI of solving for friction

1. Increase your chances of showing up in search results.

If your business is in the top three to five search results, you have a 75% chance that a consumer will click on your site. And if the search is done on a mobile device, 93% of consumers will likely go on to make a purchase.

And the flipside is true too. Without enough reviews to boost your place in Google search results, your chances of exposure to new leads is 25% and below.

Ashley Furniture in Texas added an easy-to-use, text-based review tool
to their sales process, increasing the number of reviews submitted every month. A simple text (sent in a timely manner) from a platform that integrates with Google Reviews makes it easy for customers to leave a review in a matter of a minute or two with little effort. Ashley Furniture attributes a 10 – 12% increase in foot traffic to the increase in reviews (and showing up higher in search).

Using data from Ashley Furniture, let’s look at an example between Company A and Company B, with an average of 100 visitors to the store per day, a review platform that increases foot traffic to the store, and an average sale of $1,800 per in-store customer:

“With Podium, we’ve been able to dramatically increase the online reputation of our facilities, making it easier for people to find and choose Steward Health Care locations.” —Lindsay Smelser, Head of Marketing, Steward Health Care

2. Improve online conversion with a web chat platform.

When customers have a question, 82% expect an immediate response. A web chat platform can meet the need and convert prospects into customers faster than a sales page, especially if the experience is seamless.

If your website doesn’t employ a web chat platform, customers are left to their own search skills or the navigation of your site to find the answers to their questions. And if they’re frustrated? A bad experience drives a prospect away from your site and 40% won’t return.

The largest mattress retailer in the United States found that after adding a web chat platform at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, web conversions increased by 24% with sales totaling $14 million from April to August in 2020.

On average, web conversions from chat to sale sit around 8%. Using 8% as our baseline and sample data, let’s look at an example between Company A and Company B, with an average purchase of $100 on each site.

“With a 15% average lead conversion rate and an estimated $2.8 million dollar ROI just 8 months, Podium is a no-brainer for our website.” —Peter Janis, Director of Customer & Digital Services, Sit ’n Sleep

3. Collect payments faster.

Nearly 1/3 of all consumers prefer a mobile payment option, like text messaging, in today’s modern world. Customers value convenience and speed, and the checkout experience is no different. And if your experience isn’t simple, 87% of consumers will abandon their carts during checkout and 55% will never return to your website, if the checkout is exclusively online.

Regardless of your current business model, whether you’re emailing,
mailing, or even physically handing an invoice to a customer, you’re likely waiting days, if not weeks, for a payment. And customers either forget or are inconvenienced by writing checks, opening and sending mail, or dealing with a physical bill. The business impact? What is the cost to send out each invoice? For Valley Immediate Care the cost was $5 per statement before a text-based billing solution and they sent an average of 600 statements per month!

Consider offering your customers a text-based billing solution. It can yield incredible results—in a review of the average rate of collection across mobile payment customers, the average collection rate is 42% upon delivery of the first text message. Mobile collection not only gives your customers convenience, you’ll close more sales and get paid faster.

Using this 42% collection rate in mobile payment requests and sample data, let’s look at an example between Company A and Company B, with an average purchase of $75 per customer transaction vs. waiting for in-person or mail-based payments.

“Improved customer satisfaction, reduction in fees, and saved time—that’s what Podium Payments has provided us. We’re constantly hearing from our customers how easy it is to pay through Podium.”—Ryan Levitz, Director of Business Innovation, Ashley Furniture Texas

4. Implement texting and retain more customers.

A direct line of communication with a customer can make or break a sale. Without a personalized connection, or even a route to deliver feedback, customers walk away or vent their frustrations online.

By implementing a text-based communication platform, you can offer your customers exactly what they want—the convenience of communicating with brands with their mobile device and a 24/7 customer service line to solve problems or answer questions. At Griffin Fast Lube, texting customers helps them stay connected to customers after their initial visit in-store.

“We needed to figure out a better way to communicate with our customer, because that’s where we really struggled. We get them when they come in—we can talk to them, but when they leave, we don’t really know [what they’re thinking or what they need].” —Bryce Cutler, Vice President of Marketing, Griffin Fast Lube

After implementing a text solution, Griffin Fast Lube saw a 7% increase in repeat customers. And with a 70% base of repeat customer business, that increase was incredible! Using the 7% increase in repeat business as our example, let’s look at an example between Company A and Company B.

“70% of our business is repeat customers, and we started to see a decline in the previous year. As soon as we started using Podium, we went up to almost 7% in repeat customer increase.” —Bryce Cutler, Vice President of Marketing, Griffin Fast Lube

5. Connect to prospects and close more sales.

Nearly 90% of consumers expect brands to respond to their social media messages and inquiries within 24 hours, yet 56% of businesses aren’t accessible on any social platform. The need to communicate, not just on Instagram or Facebook, spans the entire customer journey. In fact, customers engage with companies on up to 13 different channels throughout their customer journey, and most of those channels are disconnected. Even worse? Internally, employees spend 10% of their time trying to reconcile the disconnected systems they use to respond to those customer inquiries with correct information.

And beyond the need to communicate, the need to communicate with the right person at your company is even higher. When using live chat, customers expect access to marketing, sales, and customer services teams, but most companies only offer one of these teams in the direct line of communication.

A United States based dealership implemented an Interaction ManagementTM platform to interact with website visitors, text prospects and customers, boost online reviews, and offer text-based billing and payments. The seamless customer journey and open communication line impacted the business, even during a global pandemic. In the multi-location business, those dealerships that implemented an Interaction ManagementTM platform saw an 8% increase in sales than those that did not.

Using the dealership success as our example with an Interaction ManagementTM platform increasing sales by 8%, let’s look at an example between Company A and Company B.

By adding an Interaction ManagementTM platform, a national dealership saw an 8% increase in sales at dealerships that implemented the platform vs. those that did not.

BONUS SECTION: Fielding calls with a call center/admin vs. 2-way texting

If your business still relies on call centers to field incoming customer inquiries or even route customer calls to other internal teams, it’s time to hear how much friction customers experience in these situations. 75% of customers report that it takes too long to reach a live person. They get stuck in a phone tree or waiting on hold. And 35% of customers on hold will hang up within one minute.

We already know customers prefer 2-way text conversations to phone calls and emails, but what could that mean for your business?

The front desk admin can only handle so many phone conversations per day, per hour. And the same goes for customer service agents in a formal call center.

One-to-one conversations are linear and cannot operate in parallel. But with the implementation of text messaging, admins and customer service agents alike can often handle up to 8 conversations at the same time. And with an Interaction ManagementTM platform, those conversations could originate from any digital source—SMS, Facebook, Google Search, Instagram, web chat, etc.

Not only is texting customers more efficient for service reps that have traditionally used phone calls, it’s more cost effective, too. Forrester research reports the average cost of a phone conversation at about $15.50 per interaction vs. $1 – $5 for 2-way text messaging.

Using these data points as our baseline for one-to-one conversations via phone calls vs. text messaging, let’s look at an example between Company A and Company B.

“Podium has allowed IDG to serve more patients more efficiently. Not only do we get quality leads, but it doesn’t take our staff time on the phone to get the appointment scheduled.”

—Lisa Blair, COO, Inspire Dental Group

The cost of doing nothing.

The cost of friction in your customer journey adds up, especially when you consider doing nothing to remove obstacles from discovery to purchase.

  • If you don’t show up in online search results, you’ll continue to lose warm leads to your competitors.
  • If you don’t improve your online experience with a web chat platform, your web visitors will continue to bounce.
  • If you don’t improve your payment process, your customers will continue to abandon their carts.
  • If you don’t implement a better communication platform to collect feedback and stay in touch with customers, you’ll continue to lose customers without any knowledge of why.
  • If you don’t provide a seamless, multi-channel conversation experience, your disconnected platforms will continue to frustrate customers.

Find the right interaction management platform for your business.

As you compile your interaction management research, keep in mind that the right platform will:

  • Leverage every preferred messaging channel—one secure inbox for all messages (and every location for your brand) from Facebook, Google, and more.
  • Gather reviews easily and quickly—a simple text has a higher chance of response than email and only takes 30 seconds.
  • Convert website visitors to text conversations—use a web chat feature that keeps the conversation going.
  • Offer speed and convenience across all interactions—find a solution that prioritizes ease in all communications including scheduling, feedback, payments, and reviews.
  • Integrate with your existing tech stack—continue work in the tools you already use: Salesforce, Yext, ServiceTitan, AthenaHealth, Dentrix, etc.
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