Why reducing friction can save you having to offer discounts

Written By: Visii InSight Series
Reading Time: 8 mins
Why reducing friction can save you having to offer discounts

Insight caught up with Roger Dooley, a renowned expert in using the science of persuasion as a marketing tool.

Roger is the author of bestselling business books Brainfluence, which explores the use of neuroscience techniques within marketing, and Friction, which looks at improving overall customer experiences by making interactions quicker and easier.

In this blog, discover:

-   How the simple principle of making customer interactions with your brand as easy as possible can have game changing consequences

-   The importance of showing potential customers that the people behind your brand are similar to them

-   That sensory marketing, linking sight, sound and smell with your brand, is a currently under used technique to get into a customer’s subconscious

-   How humanising a customer experience and showing that your brand is thinking on the same level as your customers is key to earning their trust

The Easier The Better

If your company’s processes burden customers by creating unnecessary effort in order to perform basic tasks, you’re probably causing confusion and frustration for them, and potentially risk losing their business.

This is what Roger calls friction, where a customer experience such as an online checkout process or onboarding for the first time is more difficult than it needs to be, therefore risking turning people away as they seek an easier, more straightforward process from competitors.

Often overlooked, especially by larger companies, many organisations instead rely on monetary marketing incentives, such as offering free shipping or pricing deals in order to hook customers in.

But compared with these tried-and-tested marketing tools, reducing customer friction is a relatively low-cost but extremely powerful way to build your customer base and increase long-term brand loyalty.

It sounds straightforward and makes a lot of sense - if you want customers to come to you, make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

However, you don’t have to look far to find examples of friction in the real world.

One of these is the difference in the sign-up process for a traditional bank, where 127 clicks were required to become a new customer, five times that of a more modern fin-tech organisation, that needed just 24.

Roger argues that reducing friction not only leads to growth, but can disrupt entire industries. He suggests that the real reason videoconferencing tool Zoom became a household name overnight was not due to the shifts in working during the pandemic, but rather its prior success in reducing friction - making it as easy as possible for anyone to jump in to a video chat without having to go through hoops.

Likewise, Uber’s disruptive and successful business model highlighted existing friction with a simple part of daily life -haling a taxi - that most of us weren’t even aware of.

Citing Amazon as a leader in low-frictione-commerce, Roger highlights the site’s one-click buy button, straight forward user passwords and use of cookies that don’t expire - so items stay in your shopping cart wherever you’re logged in - greatly increases the likelihood of a purchase.

Engage the Senses to Create Better CX

Roger also gives examples of the subtle ways brands improve customer experiences, particularly in bricks-and-mortar environments, by connecting with customers on a subconscious level.

One way to do this is through the senses. He suggests classic examples where simple, unique chimes and sounds can be extremely powerful, either when using products directly or through advertising, for example by brands such as Intel and AT&T.

Likewise, the complete in-person retail experience is a combination of sights, sounds and in some cases even smells, that customers associate with a brand - and these can be controlled to influence customers’ feelings.

In addition to the usual visual branding and messaging, Singapore Airlines for example naturally controls the uniforms and even fragrances used by its staff, and this complete combination of sensory cues become a permanent association with the brand.

But Roger argues subconscious messaging is also about trust - by showing that the individuals behind a brand are similar to its potential customers. By implying they’re thinking on the same level - with the same desires and aims, it makes a brand more attractive by creating a sense of unity between employees and customers.

He highlights how a pet store did this by choosing photographs for its executive team showing them with their own pets rather than in the typical suit and tie - portraying them as animal lovers -exactly like their customers.

Similarly, in these times of a global pandemic,Roger shows how careful in-store messaging can greatly alleviate the typical confrontations that have taken place over mask wearing.

Rather than appearing to wield authority by forcing customers to wear masks, some local retailers have used messaging that instead suggests customers are helping their fellow citizens by taking precautions, and had better success by doing so.

Roger calls this “humanising the experience”.But he suggests a key idea, similarly expressed by other guests in our blog and podcast series, is that this process begins with by paying attention to your employees, even before customers.

As your staff are the individuals who interact with customers, tasked with directly sharing your company’s values and messaging, if they are not personally comfortable with your brand, then this will affect how customers perceive you. It makes sense to get this absolutely right.

To hear our interview with Roger click here or to read more expert opinion and insights you can read our blogs here.

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