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Customers demand direct interactions with brands. They increasingly want to buy from businesses directly, not go through a third-party wholesaler or distributor whose customer experience is totally different from what they’ve come to expect from the company’s marketing.
The direct-to-consumer (D2C) model is becoming more and more common. It has been the source of disruption in industries from automotive to e-commerce. The ability to provide a frictionless customer experience is at the heart of a successful D2C business.
What is a frictionless customer experience?
With a frictionless customer experience, interruptions and obstacles to buying a product are kept to an absolute minimum. A simple example is reducing the number of fields on online forms to request just the essential information. On a grand scale, it involves eliminating the gap between your company’s supply and the customer’s demand.
Tesla exemplifies this latter approach. Instead of requiring customers to come to a dealership and find a car they like, Tesla will manufacture a vehicle to the customer’s specifications. This eliminates the “middleman,” enabling Tesla to serve the customer directly.
Related: 5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Embrace Rapid Digital Change to Get Closer to Their Customers
Bringing your supply directly to the customer has several benefits. It saves you time (the sales cycle can be shortened when customers interact with your business exclusively), money (no more splitting profits with middlemen), and hassle (sales are often lost due to poor experiences with intermediaries).
You can’t expect the process of getting closer to the customer to happen overnight. Changes in your operations may be required. You might also need to rethink your marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are several ways your marketing team can support and foster your goal of a frictionless customer experience:
1. Gathering first-party data
First-party data is customer information collected by businesses directly. It generally consists of details gathered via online forms, email, etc.Due to privacy and security concerns, consumers are becoming more and more selective about which brands they share their data with. By positioning yourself as a trustworthy brand, you can earn first-party data and use it to drive genuine connections with your customers.
Related: Personalization Is an Overused Buzzword. This Is the Real Future of Ecommerce.
Lifelong relationships with customers are essential for personalized marketing and advertising. You need customers to be willing to share their information with you so you can market to them effectively. Once customers have entrusted their information to you, you can devise a frictionless experience across multiple touchpoints.
2. Improving accessibility
Digital marketing presents countless opportunities for maintaining consistent communication with your customers. SMS/text messaging, email campaigns, and social media aren’t just tools for making connections and sending promotions. They can also be used to field customer complaints and questions.
Customers have become accustomed to 24/7 access to their favorite brands. Delivering a frictionless customer experience means making yourself available to help customers, even if the request comes outside of your normal hours.
Whether you hire additional employees, work with a third party to handle after-hours inquiries, and/or invest in AI solutions, your business needs to be accessible. An unanswered question or a bad experience can cost you a customer.
Related: This Is Your Secret Weapon for Better Customer Experience
3. Refining conversion points
A conversion point is any stage in the sales cycle where the customer can take action that aligns with your business goals. Conversion points that nudge consumers toward making a purchase are likely the most important.
Prominent, easy-to-use conversion points are key in multiple areas of marketing. From website design to paid ads, all aspects of your marketing should make the process of converting as simple as possible. Look at the language you use, ensure the language effectively communicates the process, and track consumer actions on digital platforms so you can identify and eliminate possible sources of friction.
4. Continuing relationships with customers cross-platform
One of the fundamental steps of any marketing campaign is understanding where your customers are and how they communicate. If your customers are most active on Facebook Messenger, your business needs to be active on Facebook. If they prefer text to phone calls or emails, you need to be active on SMS.
You will likely have customers active on several different platforms. Getting close to the customer and providing a frictionless experience requires you to invest the necessary time, effort, and energy to ensure that you are using the platform effectively and tracking results (conversion, engagement, etc.) to maintain two-way dialogues with customers across multiple marketing channels.
Related: 5 Ways to Build Killer Relationships With Customers
5. Optimizing your customer service
Creating a frictionless customer experience may require making changes both large and small. Your business needs to take into account marketing, operations, and the overall brand identity you’re trying to convey.
Small changes — like investing in reliable chatbots, training to avoid long hold times, or employees handling inquiries outside of regular business hours — can make a big difference. However, bigger changes may be required if your market or industry is in a state of disruption.
Whoever gets the closest to the customer wins
Consumers know what they want. The digital landscape enables them to get what they want when they want it.
To meet these expectations, your business needs to be responsive to customer needs, simplify the conversion process, and align with the audience’s attitude toward your brand. Empowering your marketing employees to take on these responsibilities is critical for creating a frictionless customer experience.