In this blog - fresh off the back of INBOUND 19 - Michael Davies, Senior PR Account Manager at The B2B Marketing Lab, explains how removing friction from marketing and sales can enable businesses to sell better and win more business.
“Dollars flow where the friction is low.” – Brian Halligan, CEO, HubSpot.
The sun may have set on another HubSpot INBOUND event, but the indelible words of Brian Halligan are still ringing in our ears.
It was an intense week of learning new things, networking with like-minded content marketers and devising strategies based on what we had heard.
And yet, amongst all of this activity, it was Brian’s words that stuck with us.
When you look at someone’s daily routine, it’s telling how many of the “mainstream” products and services of the past have been replaced by new “disruptors”: Spotify has taken over iTunes, Airbnb has taken over hotels, JustEat and Deliveroo have taken over takeaways and Netflix has taken over (or more accurately, obliterated) Blockbuster, which closed its doors for good back in 2013.
These new companies aren’t taking over their respective markets by using ground-breaking technology, but by enhancing the traditional customer marketing experience.
Think about it; in the past you would have to walk to a video store to rent a film, you would be limited to a single takeout menu per website when ordering food, and you would have to browse and buy individual songs for 99p.
Was there anything as inconvenient as buying products “the old way”?
Customer experience marketing in 2019
The new customer experience is based on reducing or removing points of friction. Nowadays, you can buy anything with at the touch of a button and have it delivered the same day. In some instances a button press isn’t even required; voice assistants Alexa can order items on Amazon for you.
Returning back to Brian’s keynote for a moment, one of the companies he mentioned was a car company called Carvana. It’s not well-known in the UK, but in the US it has revolutionised the industry.
Carvana takes the hassle out of buying a car by taking care of all the annoying paperwork. It even lets you return your new car (no questions asked) within a certain timeframe if you’re not happy with it.
There’s too much competition in the market today for the customer experience not to be optimised and conditioned to run as smoothly and conveniently as possible for the customer.
And while we might still be mourning the end of the traditional marketing funnel (replaced last year with the flywheel) there’s no place for it anymore. Drawing customers in, pushing them through the buyer's journey, pumping them out the other end as customers and forgetting about them is just bad business.
Today you need to keep serving them long after their initial purchase and deliver high-quality and consistent customer service.
Removing friction from the process
One of the ways we expect to see friction removed from the customer experience is through chat bots.
For example, if you think about the process of finding basic product information, you’ll appreciate how frustrating it can be. Regardless of how simple your question is, the information you need is often unavailable and the last thing you want to do is call a salesperson who will try to up-sell you at every point. Not to mention the fact that they’re only available during office hours.
The way people consume and want to consume content has changed. They want answers delivered to them instantly, day or night.
Chatbots can fulfill these needs by providing answers to basic questions like pricing, wherever, whenever.
Speaking of pricing – isn’t it annoying when you browse a website, decide you want to buy something but can’t find its price for love nor money?
Also, how likely are you to call a company to ask how much something costs? Not likely, I bet.
Some advice from us...
We’ve been indulging in Marcus Sheridan’s new book “They Ask, You Answer” lately (if you haven’t read the book you should buy it) and we were lucky enough to sit in on a talk in which he outlined the need build trust with customers by removing friction on your website.
All too often companies treat their website like a platform to shout about how great they are, when really they should be using it to be helpful and answer the questions their customers and prospects have.
Think about it, if a company’s website helped you solve a problem, gave you a solution to another problem, told you how they could help with those problems and told you how much it would cost, wouldn’t you be interested?
By using your website as a useful resource for customers and not a selling platform for yourself, you remove a lot of friction from the customer journey and can greatly increase your chances of making sales – ironically by selling less.
There will be more articles and insights from the rest of the team in the coming days, but we hope you’ll keep Brian’s words of wisdom in mind when it comes to customer experience marketing.
As he said: “How these experience disruptors sell is ultimately how they win.”
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