Companies are increasingly being asked to imagine a customer experience that is truly frictionless. In introducing Globant’s latest Sentinel Report, Emiliano Horcada, VP of design and UX Studio partner, describes “a present with less friction, or even with no friction at all in our digital experiences, in which all of us can interact with smart applications, seamless ecosystems, and products that are aware of our context.”
Digital disruption has already had a significant impact on customer experience and the way companies interact with customers, but the new challenge is creating and embracing these frictionless digital experiences. Globant defines a frictionless experience as “a series of events that help the user obtain effective results through minimum effort and positive interactions.”
R “Ray” Wang, founder and CEO of Constellation Research, Inc and author of “Disrupting Digital Business,” said that the starting point for doing this is to think about the customer journey. According to the Sentinel Report, almost 90% of companies have undergone digital transformation, yet only a quarter have worked to map the digital customer journey in order to identify new and underperforming digital touch points.
Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group wrote that in 2016 “advanced digital organizations will use data to drive customized experiences based not only on static transaction profiles, but on dynamic data from real-time social engagement, website activity, and even their social graph activity.” She added that this would require deep integration of CRM, marketing automation, content publishing, and social-engagement platforms, tied together with world-class analytics.
The Uber Effect
One example is a digital payment experience. Doing this in a frictionless way means minimizing the barriers and easing the process to ensure that the customer is able to quickly do what she needs to with minimum fuss. “Thanks to the likes of Uber, the expectations of customers have been raised to a level most dated e-commerce solutions never even dreamt of,” said Louisa Buckingham at First Capital Cashflow, a direct debit and payment-solutions provider. “When placing these innovating giants against the more traditional offerings, it highlights just how far the industry has come in a very short space of time.”
Birmingham cites an Infosys report that discussed customer demand for a “Netflix-style experience across channels, in which they can pick from one channel what they left in another channel.” This seamless movement from channel to channel is part of the frictionless experience.
Birmingham believes that this omni-channel experience is destined to be the next big thing for the payments sector, allowing bank, card, and virtual payments to be accessed via one easy-to-use system. “It is hoped that this kind of approach will eliminate the administrative burden currently facing businesses and consumers alike, resulting in a ‘friction-less’ and less-confusing payment solution,” she said.
A drive towards frictionless customer experiences requires a change in the way such digital touch points are designed and has implications for the nearshore providers involved in such design and development.
Up Close and Personal with the User
Manuel Vidaurre, VP of product at MagmaLabs, a Colima, Mexico-based e-commerce and software consultancy, explained that frictionless experiences — or optimized user experiences — mean the creation of a meaningful “web user interface” (WUI) that can balance usefulness, functionality, a “wow effect,” aesthetics, and an emotional impact for end users who consume information from different devices (mobile, desktop, wearables, etc.) and different channels (social media, video, etc.).
Creating a frictionless digital experience means that you need to know the users’ wants and needs, according to Rob Maille, creative director at Collaborative Consulting. “Talking with the users first is the DNA of a great digital experience,” he said.
Vidaurre said that, for nearshoring companies, this requires that they work closely with clients to understand who users are to derive a holistic view of what is being built so that they can in turn design for the various personas and segmented audiences that will derive value from the application or site.
“Each persona may engage with the value proposition differently and this should be accounted for in the UX, content, and information architecture,” said Vidaurre. “The result is a UX that was thoughtfully designed for its users generating high performance and is therefore frictionless.”
In order to create such frictionless digital experiences, MagmaLabs has taken its UX/ UI services and “put them on steroids” via a new service called Sprint Prototypes.
Sprint Prototypes result in the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) for a client within one week. “During the sprint we dive into who the user is, the value proposition, channels for growth, etc. and develop a foundation to then grow the application frictionlessly,” said Vidaurre.
Collaborative Consulting, a technology-solutions provider, uses a methodology called the Six Pillars to deliver frictionless digital experiences. “The Six Pillars help us define a blueprint around what the frictionless digital experience would look like through the user,” said Maille. Once that blueprint is defined, they can work with any of their nearshoring sites to develop that digital experience.
He emphasized the importance of proximity and time-zone compatibility for such a process. “Since our nearshoring sites are close to our customers, it makes it easy to test the experience with real users while it is being developed,”said Maille. “The end result typically exceeds user expectations.”