On March 23, 2020
Facebook may have redefined how we stay connected with family, reconnect with old friends and share photos of our meals with strangers, but now it’s also defined an optimal state of consumer experience. It’s called the, “zero friction future.” As Facebook defines it, a zero friction future is, “about meeting consumer needs at the speed of now.” Today, this is more important than ever. When global panic strikes consumers turn to businesses to get immediate answers.
Essentially, the idea is eliminating anything along the customer journey that needlessly complicates, slows down or disrupts the process. Maybe that’s long shipping times or a complicated check out process or a lack of inventory. These things are considered points of “friction,” and any of them can cause said customer to abandon you and turn to a competitor. The less friction a customer experiences, the more likely they are to return to you, time and time again. Too much friction, and you risk losing them forever. As Shiv Choudhury, Partner and Head of Consumer and Retail Practice in Southeast Asia at BCG, puts it, “Every bit of friction gives consumers one more reason to drop away from not only your brand, but even your category.”
It’s easy to say you need to reduce friction, but how does one actually achieve a seamless consumer journey? Facebook has outlined three steps:
Keep in mind, these three steps aren’t a one-time fix – it’s an ongoing process. A good benchmark is to go through this process once a quarter. Mr. Choudhury established this timeline, “because of the changing nature of consumers’ latent needs, the endless opportunities to continually reduce friction and constant market competition.”
One of the key elements of reducing friction is meeting consumers in the places they already are. Where once this meant websites or emails, people are increasingly communicating with businesses via chat solutions. One of the strongest platforms for this is Facebook Messenger. According to PhocusWire, “There are 40 million global businesses active on Messenger, and Click-to-Messenger ads are one of the fastest-growing ad formats in the Facebook family.” The personalized, instant and, well, conversational nature of conversational marketing inherently reduces traditional points of friction.
The airline industry is embracing this concept in light of the current Pandemic. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Singapore Airlines are just two examples of major airlines that have created a Messenger bot to communicate updates to customers in the ever-changing crisis. During non-critical times, it also allows future passengers – within the same bot – to book their flight, receive and review their boarding information, get reminders to check in, change their seats and ask questions as needed. The entire customer journey can take place all in the same location where you’re already messaging Mom and Dad.
Consider how this strategy could revolutionize your own business. What will you find if you analyze and critically assess your consumer journey against Facebook’s three step process? Are you “meeting consumer needs at the speed of now?”