Best practice strategies for Digital Product & Marketing Leaders.
An optimised customer journey is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for Digital teams.
In fact, suboptimal customer experiences that are rife with ‘friction’ due to poor product design can have a significant commercial impact.
We need only to look at the sheer volume of activity now taking place online to understand that impact. A staggering 87% of shoppers now begin their product hunt online (Salesforce), and an equally high 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase (Forrester).
87% of shoppers now begin their hunt via digital channels
With such a significant shift in consumer behaviour, it’s no surprise that customers expect a seamless and frictionless customer journey across all channels. In fact, research by Salesforce also shows that 80% of shoppers will abandon a retailer after just three bad experiences.
As a result, senior Digital Product and Marketing Leaders are facing a minefield of challenges in the race for share of wallet.
Many will turn to new digital channels to reach new markets, some will also grapple with Customer Engagement Platforms to try and unify their communications.
This is, however, overlooking a fundamental factor in the customer journey, one that savvy Digital Product and Marketing Leaders know to fix first – good product design.
Indeed, those who invest in product design and what is often known as ‘design thinking’ are already reaping the rewards.
A report by McKinsey shows that companies that consistently follow design thinking practices generate roughly 32% more revenue and 56% higher returns for shareholders than those that do not.
A similar study by Forrester for Adobe shows that nearly half of design-led companies identify the following benefits to having advanced design practices:
41% report greater market share
46% report a competitive advantage
50% report more loyal customers
And finally, the Design Management Institute echo these numbers with a study carried out over a period of ten years, showing that design-driven companies outperform the S&P Index by a whopping 228%.
So why is product design so important for the customer journey?
The frictionless customer journey – why it’s important
Firstly, let’s take a step back to understand why a frictionless customer journey is so important.
Friction in the online customer journey, i.e. moments in the digital journey that cause difficulty, frustration or inconvenience for the customer, can have a significant impact on your business – it can lead to stress, dissatisfaction, and ultimately, abandonment. Customers who encounter too much friction are less likely to complete tasks, less likely to return, and less likely to recommend your brand to others.
Take the world of banking as an example.
When was the last time you encountered a confusing interface when trying to log in to your banking app? Or perhaps you recently experienced accessibility issues when trying to find your latest statement? And for those of us who have recently signed up to new banking apps, we’ll be all too familiar with some of the unclear instructions provided in the onboarding process!
Then there’s online shopping. Every minute of every day, consumers are ‘abandoning carts’ due to complicated checkout processes, limited payment options, or inconsistent interfaces between e-stores and payment pages.
The list goes on…
The question is, however, what can we do to reduce this sort of friction and, as we know from our own consumer experiences, ultimately increase sales and retain loyal customers?
Best practice product design strategies to reduce friction in the customer journey
There are a number of strategies that Digital Product and Marketing Leaders can deploy when it comes to product design. The good news is that there are plenty of brands out there already reaping the benefits of this to reduce customer journey friction, so leveraging from these isn’t as difficult as it once was.
From years of working with leading brands ourselves in this domain, we’ve picked out our top three. We’ve selected these three because:
1. Learn from smartphone heuristics to reduce friction in the customer journey
Customers interact with a smartphone on average over 3 hours a day
As consumers increasingly use smartphones for more and more of their daily tasks, it’s makes sense that we’re becoming attuned to the way in which they work. In fact, we’re becoming so acclimatised to these ‘mental shortcuts’, for example, swipe gestures or colour recognitions, that babies and children now even mimic these behaviours.
As we explain in our article – How behavioural science can boost your mobile app performance – these shortcuts are what customers now expect, not just on mobile apps, but in website page design too. Familiar experiences or situations allow users to default to a state of mind that they have experienced before. This reduces what’s known as ‘cognitive load’, which in turn requires less effort for the customer to interact with your site or product, thereby reducing the likelihood that they’ll bounce or churn.
When it comes to examples of these heuristics, you don’t have to look far.