Monday, December 7th, 2015 | 5 min read
A strange thing happened to me when I was at Logan Airport in Boston the other day.
I ordered an Uber, like many of you have, and received a message that I should go to the Limo pick-up area.
When I got there, five other people were already waiting for their Uber rides.
What was strange wasn’t that people were waiting; it was that this was also the area where people could hail taxi cabs.
However, instead of immediately jumping in a cab, all five of these business travelers preferred to wait four to eight minutes for their Ubers.
We’ve all heard the adage “time is money.” This is particularly true with business travel, which is all about getting where you need to go as quickly as possible.
People will often pay more to save time, and they certainly value speed in their transactions, so you would think that a harried business traveler would prefer to jump into a cab and be on his or her way.
But the rise of personalized, frictionless customer experiences provided by companies like Uber, Instacart, Seamless, and others means that we will sometimes look at the equation a little differently.
Yes, we might get to our destination 4 minutes faster if we just jump into the cab; however, the Uber saves us from:
All of these are things we used to accept as normal. Now, we see them as irritants we want to avoid—so much so that we’re willing to wait in the cold Boston November air to do so.
According to Gartner, “By 2016, 89% of companies will compete mainly on experience.” Folks, that’s just a few weeks away.
Our expectations about what a good customer experience looks and feels like have been transformed forever.
Can you imagine stopping at a toll booth to pay with coins? (Yes, there are a few hold outs, I know). How about not being able to book a plane or train ticket online?
The less friction that exists within the interactions a customer has with your brand, the more business you’ll capture. Just ask taxi drivers.
This seismic shift in the brand-customer relationship will take place at every level of business, from enterprise all the way down to solo practitioners. In fact, it’s already happening, and social media plays a leading role.
Customers are now able to voice their opinions about products and companies to their network through an array of platforms, from Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Snapchat, and so on. Customers are now in control; often, they have more information about a brand’s product than the brand itself, and their voices are loud.
People listen to what they have to say—the rising popularity of user-generated content is just one example of how much weight another customer’s voice holds in the eyes of a consumer.
Some day, HBR or Sloan Management Review will come out with a “Business Transaction Friction Coefficient,” or something like that.
For now, the opportunity is not just in mapping the journey of how a customer interacts with a brand; it’s also in looking at the possible points of friction at all customer touchpoints and figuring out how to smooth them out.
Complexity in any given consumer-brand interaction results in friction. The more friction there is, the more opportunity a competitor has to one-up your organization.
Brands need to focus on providing frictionless experiences that make it ridiculously easy for customers to do business with them.
We’re living the Uber-ification of Customer Experience Management. What are you going to do about it?
About the author: Jeremy Epstein is VP of Marketing at Sprinklr. Prior to joining the team, he was the founder and CEO of Never Stop Marketing, an international consulting firm that served Fortune 500 clients including Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. He has a B.A. in History and a double minor in Economics and German from Johns Hopkins University; he also studied international relations and marketing in Germany and Japan.
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