Customers’ expectations for convenience have only increased since the pandemic began. In fact, 86% of customers say that they expect business to be even more convenient after COVID-19 restrictions lift. Factors like convenience and customer service are beginning to take priority even over the price of a product or service.  
The way forward? Remove friction in every possible way in every possible customer interaction. And with the right tools, you can meet, and even exceed, the expectations of your customers—moving your brick-and-mortar business into the Netflix or Amazon experience that customers have come to expect (and enjoy). Convenience and speed are the new normal.
Join Jay Baer, Founder of Convince and Convert; Dan Gingiss, Chief Experience Officer at The Experience Maker; and Dan Davis, VP of Customer Success at Podium in this webinar to discover how to make business easier for your customers. 
The key takeaways from the webinar revolve around segmenting the operations of your business and addressing the points of friction in every step. Follow the formula for success by addressing each step of the customer journey:

1. Prospect education 

In this first stage of the customer journey, you want to remove friction by understanding, anticipating, and answering customers’ questions as easily as possible. Make it impossible for a customer to misunderstand what you do and how you operate. Create an ultimate FAQ—a master list of all the things customers need to know, and use the tools customers are comfortable with to deliver this information. For instance, rather than making customers find and read through a long webpage, you could enable customers to text you for instant answers. 
Example: Benco Dental, a dental equipment and supplies distributor, has mastered the art of friction-free prospect education. The company has an ultimate FAQ and even pays for dentists to come visit its headquarters where the customer can see exactly what they would get if they remodel or purchase with Benco. Benco answers all possible questions and provides a demo for deep understanding, convincing 75% of dentists to redesign with them.

2. Pre-purchase communication

In this stage, customers are interested and more familiar with a product or company, but they’re not sold yet. This is where using the right tools to connect with customers is crucial. Rather than trying to pull the customer to the channels you want (maybe email or phone), meet the customer where they are comfortable (texting!). 
Example: When Dan Davis was in the market to buy a camping trailer, he was researching for this purchase late in the evenings when webchats weren’t live and bots couldn’t answer his questions in real time. After spending several days filling out forms on two dozen websites specifying what he was after and waiting to hear back via email, he finally struck gold with a texting conversation. He texted an RV dealer to see if it had the model he wanted. An employee answered almost immediately that they did not, but that she would keep him updated. Four days later, one arrived at their shop, a text was sent to inform him, and the purchase was made less than 24 hours later. This company beat out other RV dealers (that may have had the same model) by providing the answers and service the customer needed in a personal, timely, and convenient manner.

3. Product/Service selection and purchase

What causes stress and friction for customers the most in this stage? Open loops—silence, uncertainty, and unanswered questions relating to the products or services they are purchasing. To close these loops, businesses need to communicate with customers. Organize what you sell, personalize what you offer, and confirm information for your customers.
Especially post-purchase, when customers have already spent their money, they need answers to ease their stress. The good news? This is not hard for businesses to accomplish. Customer communication is not expensive or difficult—it’s one of the simplest ways to improve the experience and reduce friction. You can even automate most of the messages that keep customers in the loop. It’s almost impossible to over-communicate relevant information relating to a customer’s order or experience; customers want to know what’s going on. Do this through the channels that they prefer, and you’re even more likely to reduce friction and please customers.
Example: After making an online purchase, Jay Baer received his order confirmation via email, and then experienced two full weeks of radio silence from that company. No shipping notice, no explanation for a delay, and no helpful information on the company website. He reached out to the support team via email but never heard back. Eventually, he received a shipment notification, but never any form of personal communication or explanation. Compare this experience to the one he had with a different online purchase: after purchasing wine from another company, he received a personal phone call thanking him for his order and informing him of the shipment plan. Even though this order would be slightly delayed, he knew the reason, and was happy to feel in the loop.

4. Payments and delivery

Of all the interactions in a customer’s journey, payments may be the one where expectations have changed the most this year. Digital payments are necessary in the COVID era. 81% of customers have used services like contactless delivery or contactless payment since the pandemic. And 77% of consumers want businesses to continue offering contactless payments after the pandemic.
If a customer has made it this far into the journey, the payment process shouldn’t present new obstacles or friction. Offer something quick and easy—a text link is a great example. And if you’ve been building a relationship with your customer with texting up to this point, a quick payment link sent via text is a natural progression of the conversation. And it removes the traditional hassles of typical payment methods. 
Example: Purchasing furniture can be notoriously inconvenient. You can buy a house and fill out less paperwork than you do buying a sofa. The last thing you want to do to a customer is make them wait in line 45 minutes after deciding to buy something at your store. Mobile payment options can speed up this process in a way that is secure, easy, and convenient.  

5. Post-purchase or post-delivery communication

The transaction or delivery shouldn’t be your final point of contact with a customer. Keeping a constant, yet asynchronous dialogue really helps smooth over points of frustrations in the customer journey. Automate delivery notifications, ask customers if they’re happy with their purchase, how likely they are to refer a friend, how satisfied they are with the overall experience, or if they have any feedback to provide. And have these conversations via text. Emails are filtered, unopened, and ignored. But 95% of texts are opened and responded to within 3 minutes.
42% of consumers say that they are more interested in messaging with businesses than they were pre-pandemic. Deliveries and appointments have a 60% higher hold rate when a reminder is sent via text. Post-purchase is an especially important time to ask for reviews. This will help you evaluate your performance and paint an accurate picture for others who will read customer reviews online. 
Example: An autocare business found that one of its 10 locations was always underperforming and they weren’t sure why. After implementing automated feedback requests, they were able to resolve a management issue that customers consistently identified in their reviews. Customer feedback and reviews provide insight to the customer experience that can come in no other way. And getting this feedback via text helps businesses and customers centralize this communication, rather than attempting to use every other available channel (like social media comments) to address these issues. 
To unlock more wisdom, more information, and a Q/A with the experts on creating smooth customer experiences, watch the full webinar here.

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