Part 2 - Identify Customer Friction

Part Two: How to Identify Customer Friction

4-Part series on how to create a frictionless experience

In Part One we defined customer friction as anything that causes your customer to hesitate or completely leave your conversion path. We also discussed how millennials are leading the demand for frictionless experiences. For the future state of your business it’s vital for you to reduce customer friction, providing as friction-free an experience as possible, to increase conversions and build brand loyalty.

We also discussed how exceeding expectations with customer service when an issue arises is not as good as simply meeting their needs in the first place.

Removing obstacles makes it easy for your customer to do what they want to do – which should also be what you want them to do.

Try taking yourself through your own UX – or better yet, have someone new to your business go through it. How simple is your conversion process? Where are the hang-ups? How long did it take? How long should it take? How does it compare to industry best standards?

Now take a look at your competition and ask the same questions. How does their conversion process compare to yours?

Identify your customers’ pain points

Now that you’ve gotten inside their heads, study your customers’ behavior.

Elements that can cause customer friction are as variable as the industry you are in, but may include:

  • Poor website quality
  • Long wait time on services
  • Out-of-stock product
  • Confusing user experience (UX)
  • Uninformed sales staff
  • Bad customer service experience
  • Slow (and/or expensive) delivery fees
  • Low public perceptions
  • Limited business hours
  • Negative online reviews

Get to the heart of your customers’ specific friction by trying some of these methods:

Stakeholder interviews

Sit down with your sales or other customer-facing teams. No one knows your audience better than the people of your organization that deal with them face-to-face (or interface-to-interface). They often have a list of frequent issues, questions or concerns customers have. Look for patterns and ask them what they have observed.

Customer journey map

Write out the steps your customer must go through to engage with your company. The more steps involved, the more complicated it is and the more chances for something to go wrong and cause friction. Look for ways you can clarify and simplify that path.

Customer interviews

A good way to discover the pain points your customers are dealing with is simply to ask them. Try using the Five Whys system developed by Toyota (“People do not fail, processes do.”)

Customer surveys

If long-form interviews are not an option, properly-worded surveys can gauge how they think you’re doing and point you in the direction of their friction.

Website metrics

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Where on your website do your customers enter and exit? How far through the conversion process do they get? How much time do they spend on each page?

If you find there are specific pages or steps along the conversion route in which you lose them, take a closer look. Are those pages clear in what they are asking your customer to do? What information might your customer be missing at this specific point that prevents them from moving forward?

Let’s sum it up

  1. Put yourself in the mind of your customer and walk through your own conversion funnel UX.
  2. List anything that causes friction.
  3. Dig deep into your customers’ experience by talking with stakeholders, interviewing and/or surveying your customers and by analyzing your website metrics.

Stay Tuned for Part Three: Case Studies of Reduced Customer Friction from 5 Companies

This blog originally appeared at

Debbie (Breemeersch) Schwake

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