AI Can Help Eliminate Friction in the Customer Buying Journey

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Brands are making significant efforts to meet customer experience expectations, yet many are falling short when eliminating areas of potential friction. The inability to mitigate problem areas in the customer journey can be disastrous for both a brand’s reputation and bottom line. More than half of consumers told Propel they’d stop using a brand after one negative experience. According to the same study, nearly six out of 10 already have.

Why does a seamless customer experience matter so much? It may be because buyers have more options today than ever. Your target audience is being marketed to by an endless range of companies selling similar products and services. When one company delivers a poor experience—even if the experience is only mildly frustrating—the company risks losing that sale and future sales because the customer can just find another brand that will provide a better experience.

Of course, friction can be hard to define at first. A good way to think of it is any touchpoint that isn’t executed perfectly from the customer’s point of view. Essentially, friction includes anything that delays, derails, diverts, or destroys the customer journey progression.

For instance, a complicated checkout process could quickly cause cart abandonment. Similarly, a clunky user interface or conflicting information from one part of the user experience to the next could annoy. And no one likes slow load times, especially when hurrying to make a purchase.

Delivering a Frictionless Customer Experience

As you might suspect, identifying every point of buyer friction can take some time. Nevertheless, it’s worth the effort to search out possible friction points. When you put visitors’ needs first, you position your company to glean all the benefits of a smooth and continuous customer experience.

One advantage of removing friction is the potential for people to travel deeper into your sales funnel—which will lift conversion rates. Fewer people “dropping off” means more opportunities to improve your long-term relationships with buyers and bring up their customer lifetime value. Another advantage to exceeding customer experience expectations by tackling friction areas is a natural boost in your brand’s reputation. Because many consumers are used to experiencing frustration in their buyer’s journey, they’re likely to tell their friends if they can move smoothly and intuitively through yours.

There are many avenues to achieving a frictionless customer experience. However, if you want to simplify the process, start by leveraging AI-based tools. An AI-based solution’s speed, efficiency, and reliability will help you minimize friction and provide users with truly personalized experiences.

The beauty of embracing AI is that you can quickly scale, automate, and personalize. AI provides the power and agility to experiment continuously with thousands of ideas. Your team couldn’t hope to reach that kind of speed. While experimenting, AI will automatically evaluate millions of possibilities to serve up optimized user experiences based on statistically significant responses. Your customers will be met with an intelligent digital experience that helps them achieve their goals and leaves them delighted.

Using AI Solutions to Reduce Friction Points

Your team may be new to using AI solutions to reduce user friction points across your customer journeys. The following deployment strategies should help you make the most of the AI tools you use.

Leverage AI to understand historical visitor data. Every unique visitor to your site leaves data breadcrumbs. They drop those crumbs as they progress along your sales funnel. However, it can be hard to connect the dots between what those crumbs mean. This is where AI comes in handy.

When you let an AI-based solution examine your data crumbs, you give yourself a higher chance of providing outstanding CX personalization. Leveraging AI will make you and your team more productive because you’ll be able to get more profound knowledge about all the valuable data you’re sitting on. It can be challenging to spot trends and uncover friction points on your own. AI can give you more “Aha!” moments so you can make sure consumers feel that their touchpoints with your company are relevant and helpful.

Use AI to evaluate and act on journeys that start with search results. Many customer experience journeys start with an online search. Because of this behavior, both your paid and organic search journeys must be aligned and consistent. The more connected and harmonious each experience is (building on the experiences that came before by taking all available data into consideration), the more likely the consumer will be to progress to a desired outcome.

According to McKinsey research, young buyers are remarkably tuned into the seamlessness of their customer journeys. As they move from channel to channel, they want to feel that there’s nothing amiss. AI can move data from insight into action and ensure your messaging remains aligned and customized from search to sale across all channels.

Think of user experience optimization as a process, not an endpoint. Selling anything online is an ever-evolving process. From time to time, conduct periodic reviews of all the critical touchpoints along your digital experience. New areas of friction may have popped up, and you want to spot them before they harm your brand or profits. Staying ahead of the curve ensures that you always make necessary updates to avoid problems.

Consumers have more options today, and because of that, loyalty is harder to achieve. Repeated friction points in the buyer’s journey can interrupt or stop a sale altogether. Although time-consuming, taking time to identify areas of improvement in your buyer’s journey can not only increase sales but build loyalty and trust with your customers. Use AI to become the brand that people can rely on. The payoff is worth it.

Michael Scharff is cofounder and CEO of Evolv AI, which enables brands to continuously find better ways to connect with their customers using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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