The Frictionless Path To Customer Loyalty And Higher Sales
Drawing on the content of his new book, FRICTION (McGraw Hill), Dooley will show how user effort affects conversion, retention, and even online reputation.
Anubhav: Hello! Welcome to ConvEx, where we are celebrating experiment driven marketing. I am Anubhav and I am in charge of leading organic traffic here at VWO.
If you have an online business, and if you want to supercharge your conversions, try VWO today.
Today with us, we have Roger Dooley who’s an expert in neuromarketing and the author of the best-selling book, Friction. I’m excited to have you with us, Roger.
Roger: Oh happy to be here, I am.
Anubhav: Before Roger starts with his presentation. I would like to inform everyone that they can join the official networking group for ConvEx on LinkedIn, and ask their questions from the presentation.
With this, the stage is yours, Roger.
Roger: Well, thanks so much and I like your emphasis on experimentation because a lot of my work or just about really all of my work is based on Behavioral Science.
And of course has its roots in rigorous experimentation.
Yeah, so let me share my screen here briefly. Okay, we will go through this relatively quickly. I got a lot of slides, but I want to start by making two promises. First is that you’re going to see more friction at the end of this. I’m hoping that everybody comes away with a metaphorical set of friction goggles like these. I can’t give you the real goggles, but you’ll be seeing more friction than you were before. And also that you’ll have such ways to fix friction. I defined friction as the unnecessary expenditure of effort to perform a task. In the physical world, it’s an invisible force. In fact, it wasn’t until about 500 years ago, but you know [it was] DaVinci who discovered friction. He conducted these amazing experiments. Are reminiscent of modern physics, but unfortunately, his work was lost for centuries and it wasn’t until a couple of hundred years later that another scientist finally documented it and published his work. Now when we talk about are metaphorical friction, it’s really based on something that traces its roots back to the law of least effort that might go as far back as 1300 William of ockham, but much more recently Daniel Kahneman. A Nobel Prize winner and behavioral economist, said that there’s a long least effort that applies to both cognitive as well as physical exertion and the people are basically pretty lazy.
BJ Fogg at Stanford very different approach, but he developed what he called his Fogg behavior model. And he says you need three things to change or create a behavior. You need motivation. The person has to want to do it or want the result of doing it. There has to be a trigger or a prompt as he now calls it something to get the ball rolling.
And then finally there has to be an ability which translates into a lack of difficulty or a low level of effort. And our other Nobel Prize winner Richard thaler basically puts it very simple: “If you want to encourage some activity, make it easy.”
So a few years ago when I was speaking at a conversion conference, I introduced my framework. I call the Persuasion Slide and it’s loosely based on BJ Foggs’s work, but with some twists.
I’m not going to go into the details today. Feel free to Google this if you’re interested in more, you’ll find both descriptions and illustrations and such. But the only thing that I found most interesting in the side model was friction. In the physical world, that’s what happens when a child gets stuck partway down the slide and because the slide isn’t slippery enough. You know in a metaphorical world friction represents difficulty, both the real difficulty and perceived or imaginary difficulty. So I’m guessing that in the audience there at least some dog people. This was my little pug about nine years ago.
He was cute and he was kind of funny-looking too but today he is Is much older he’s got nine years old. He doesn’t seem very motivated most of the time but there is one thing that really motivates him. And that is food. He is right there if food is involved in this. So I decided to conduct an experiment with him. This is a regular dog food bowl. This is what’s called a slow feeder bowl. It’s designed to slow down dogs who gulp their food to fit quickly. And this is a treat ball. It’s designed to make dogs work for their food where they have to roll it around and squeeze it and shakes it to get the food out of it. So I found that he could consume a meal in under half a minute in the regular food bowl.
That same amount of food took about two and a half minutes in the slow feeder bowl. About five times as long. And then the treat ball, it took almost 10 minutes. So about 20 times more effort. Now, you might think that if you would be kind of upset by this, but actually it doesn’t seem to bother him. We’re still pals. But here’s the interesting take away from this. In each case, no matter how much effort he had to put out, he consumed 100 percent of the food. Didn’t matter the method, he ate it all. And the base is that your customers aren’t dogs. If you make things more difficult for them, their behavior will be affected. They will stop working with you. They will work with your competitor because effort really counts. To put in another way friction changes behavior. And that’s sort of an underlying theme both of my book and of our chat here today. And friction has an incredibly high cost. Every year 4.6 trillion dollars of merchandise is abandoned in e-commerce shopping carts. And if we look at the reasons for that, they’re mostly frictional in nature. They need to set up an account to buy something complicated or difficult checkout process or surprises at the very end.
Totally different study published in the Harvard Business Review estimated that 3 trillion dollars a year is wasted by US businesses alone in what the authors called the organizational drag, which is really another name for friction inside the company. Things like bad processes, wasted time in meetings, wasted time dealing with unnecessary email, and on and on and on. So I’m going to share one more dog experiment with you. I decided to see what he would do if he had his choice between the different methods. So I divided us through equally between the three and here is what we found.
He went to the easy one first.
Finished that one completely. Went on to the next easiest one after that. And we’re not watching this quite in real time here. It would take a little bit too long. And checks around make sure there’s nothing easy left. And then finally moves out of the difficult one and carries it off to work on it in the other room.
And the takeaway from that is that even dogs prefer easy when they’re given the choice. Even though he was Berkeley willing to work hard for his food and the choice. He took the easy path, which is what your customers do to. Now I think that when we’re talking about customers, there’s really two areas we can talk about. We can talk about acquisition or conversion, which I know is really a big topic. I spent a lot of my time talking to conversion optimizers and such.
But there’s another area to retention which is loyalty. Doesn’t affect everybody. If you’re doing one time sales, but most businesses do want repeat customers. And often it’s much more profitable to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. So let’s define loyalty.
It could mean repeat purchasesIt could be getting a tattoo on your arm. And now when I tell you our behavior isn’t everything and here’s what I mean by that. I’m extremely loyal to United Airlines. I always fly them hundred thousand miles a year, every year. I rarely fly any other airline except their star alliance partners. But it’s not because I really love the brand because I feel they offer tremendously better service than American or Delta. It’s because I have an Elite status with them. And so they treat me much better. I get to ride up front often for free upgrades. Where if I’m an American or Delta, I will be on that last row in economy, that doesn’t recline. Now true loyalty can be tested. I’ll give you an example of that. I’m a very loyal Amazon customer. Have been for years and years. Most of my online purchases come through Amazon. And a few years ago in the state of Texas where I live, my loyalty to them was tested. Previously, they had not charged Texas state sales tax, but then they work to deal with the state where they would charge that. So my prices from Amazon, went up eight percent overnight and whereas with other online vendors and different states that did not happen.
I expected my behavior to change. In fact, I said that I would change my behavior. I could be certain as it would make total sense to shop around and avoid that penalty. In fact, when I look back a couple of years later on, my behavior changed almost not at all. And remember those people who got the tattoos, I wasn’t be free pizza for life. If they got a tattoo. And they gonna pull the campaign after just a very short time because so many people were signing up for.
And I guarantee you that the same loyal Domino’s customers at Pizza Hut made that same deal next month, they would be at the tattoo parlor getting their other arm tattooed. True loyalty is emotional.
It’s not unconscious and above all it’s not rational. If people are loyal to you because you have the best price on the best service, that’s good. But if somebody came along with a lower price or better service, they might well switch to other brand. That wouldn’t be true loyalty. So how do we create loyalty?
One way could be loyalty programs. But there’s some data showing that loyalty programs really don’t work particularly. Well, I would say that loyalty programs by themselves don’t create loyalty but they can be part of sort of Behavioral Science based approach. One restaurant, that does it right is BJ’s Brewhouse chain. We’ve got a couple of outlets here in Austin. And they have an app of course and a Rewards program or loyalty program. And in general their customer experience is very good. The service is good. The food is always prepared very well and I enjoy their craft beers. So what they’re doing here is creating sort of a virtuous cycle. They offer good customer experience. You earn rewards.
They email you. By the time I get back from the visit of the restaurant, there is an email in my inbox telling me how many points I earned towards my next reward which could be a discount off another meal. And then periodically, not too often, they email me offers to trigger me to come back in perhaps a free appetizer, free entree, to bring me back into the restaurant. They keep the cycle going. And this is very similar to my friend Nir Eyal, author of Hooked. Calls the Hooked model and we’ll go through the details about this bit.
But if you have not read this book and you want to create habit-forming products, I highly recommend that it makes a great argument, that it can be done using the way our brain works. In fact, it works so well. Then, of course, we’re all hooked on our phones and Facebook and Instagram and such years new book coming out in a few months. It’s called indestructible as I guess. It’s sort of the antidote to hooked. So you might think that exceeding customer expectations is one way to build loyalty. In fact, it doesn’t work that well, it’s expensive. It’s hard to scale. Your expectations rise, if you keep exceeding them.
And above all science shows that it does not drive loyalty. What drives loyalty is a low-friction easy experience. Gartner did some amazing research that showed the customers who had a high effort interaction with constituent service, were 96% likely to be disloyal compared to us about a tenth of that for low effort customers at a low effort experience. Similarly low effort customers were 94% more likely to purchase again compared to just four percent high effort customers- Huge, huge difference!
And we all know how important word of mouth is these days with social media. Bad news can spread like wildfire. 88% of high effort customers said bad things about a brand compared to just 1% of low effort customers. So it’s pretty clear that the best path to building true loyalty is low friction. And now that’s a big reason why I keep dealing with Amazon even after they got more expensive. They are just simply too easy and too convenient to do business with them.
Now, let’s talk about what friction consists of. It could be lots of things in the digital world. It could be fields in a form, how many steps there are in any process you want your customers to go through, a complicated instructions. Things that are confusing. Slow problem resolution at something that Gartner research found was really devastating to loyalty. I’ll give you an example.
This example is a few years old. Now, I’m hoping that Staples has improved their process since then. But it’s ironic because they are the inventors of the easy button. And I need ink for my printer. I knew they would deliver the next day for free because I was an existing customer that’s even faster than Amazon, which normally takes 48 hours where I am. So I found the ink on their website, dropped it my shopping cart, went to check out and was confronted with this horrendously long order form. And I was […] because first of all I found that I was not logged in to their site even though I was an existing customer. Secondly my browser perhaps because their site was coded that way did not remember my login information. And so I was faced with a choice or several choices. Do I try and hunt down my login which would be time-consuming and might or might not be successful. Do I do a recovery process and reset all my login information which would be kind of a pain. Do I check-out using this horrendously long form. Or the fourth choice was to jump in my car and drive to OfficeMax, which I did. Within 30 minutes, I was back in my office with the ink in my printer.
And that original ink was still in my staples shopping cart, part of that 4.6 trillion dollars in the abandoned merchandise. And compare that to Amazon where they have near zero friction. They always know when you are on Amazon, you would have to buy a new computer or format your hard drive to get logged out of Amazon. And that one click button is always there enticing you ‘click me’ and with no additional effort that I will be on your doorstep in 48 hours or less.
And it’s not something new. Back in 1997 just to the dawn of e-commerce, practically, Jeff Bezos was talking about frictionless shopping. They panned in one click or during a year later and defended against legal challenges spending millions of dollars just to add one click to their competitors. Barnes & Noble, who was their principal antagonist at the time, ended up having to add a click order just to get around the pattern but Amazon thought adding that one little tiny click was worth spending everything. They did on legal fees and the court fights.
Steve Jobs, at the same time, saw how valuable this was as a competitive advantage for his new music store, the iTunes Store. He immediately licensed to pay Amazon license, a million bucks in cash, and said I need that used. Of course, we all know how well iTunes worked out. And they don’t stop there. About a dozen years ago, they saw the people were frustrated by the packages. They were getting these retail packages plastic clam shells and simply can’t open with your bare hands, you need scissors or knives or something. And so they said we can do something about that. They came up with frustration-free packaging. And this is simple cardboard packaging, easy to open, doesn’t require any special tools risk of customer injury is very low and it’s better for the environment than the plastic. And what they found was interesting not only that customers really like this form of packaging but they translated into liking the products better. There was a 73 percent reduction in negative feedback on the products that were packaged in the frustration-free packaging versus the old packaging. Even made returns easier for any of you in e-commerce business. I know that you hate returns. I was in the direct marketing business for years too and returns are costly and annoying but Amazon makes that even easy as well. And this is one reason why now, they now have half of all e-commerce sales. And brought this to retail now too. They introduced their ghosts or we simply take stuff off the shelf and leave with it. The simplest process is no process at all.
And now according to Bloomberg they may open up a few thousand of these within just a couple of years. Pretty remarkable. And Jeff Bezos himself sums it up nicely. When you reduce friction, make something easy people do more of it. And if you want your customers to do more of something, make it easy.
Now, let’s talk about another kind of friction search friction and one company that’s been really effective with this. Google has been minimizing user effort since the very earliest days. Back when I started, this what search engines look like. Really distracting high friction environments. Where Google hasn’t changed much over the years logos changed but not the interface very much. And even today when you go to google.com, they minimize your effort in every possible way. The curse has already positioned the search box. You don’t have to click with your mouse or tap with your finger to put it there. It’s already there. And if you type one character, they immediately use their AI and machine learning to start suggesting things. That might be like what you are looking for and so you do type into view. I’ll pick weather.
They don’t give you a list of weather sites to click on, On the number one spot, they show you the conditions in your area right now. That you can get an hourly forecast for the rest of the day, and a daily forecast for the next week.
So probably 98% of the searchers are satisfied with the information they get from just a couple of keystrokes or taps and now you don’t even need keystrokes, of course, so you can just yell at your Google Assistant. You can yell at your phone. And over the years lower search fiction has given Google a tremendous competitive advantage. Nobody’s been able to really get their share in general search on despite spending billions of dollars to try to do that. Their customers have been incredibly loyal and you can use this in your own way to also create loyal customers. One way is to use Smart Suggestions, if you offer site search. I’ll give you an example.
A few weeks ago, I was searching for something called Warm White Puck lights. It’s a thing. I needed some for my kitchen. And so I went to the sites you would commonly expect.
At Lowe’s I started typing in Warm White and I specifically saw suggest stuff, but it was white towel warmers. So not necessarily wrong, but not helpful to my search.
At their big competitor, Home Depot, by the time I got to ‘warm white’ they recognized this was a term often used in lighting and most of the suggestions were for lighting products. At Amazon. I got to warm and some of their suggestions were for lighting products. By the time I got some Warm White Puck, they knew I wanted lights. No questions. Now beyond offering suggestions that not only minimize customer but let them choose the best possible search term which fits your site, is delivering relevant results. That’s the other thing that made Google exceptional.
Even in the early days when they were just leaving links. Their links were much better than their competitors. So at Lowe’s by the time I typed in the entire search string, still three of the top four results weren’t relevant.
They were not puck lights, they were Christmas lights. Home Depot, all the top results were relevant, but it seemed like some of the products that they had on their website should have been part of those results, weren’t there. Not sure what happened with that. Amazon on the other hand, both the sponsored and organic results were all spot-on for one of my search. Now another way Home Depot helps finding things if you’ve ever been in one of these big box stores and I say, yeah, that’s aisle 23. So you walked out aisle 23, that’s a mile-long. There are millions of products in the aisle. You can’t find them what you’re looking for, even when you know the aisle.
Will you search at homedepot.com? Not only do they tell you how many are in stock at your local store, so you don’t make a wasted trip. They also tell you the aisle number and the bay number- The bay is the section of shelving. So just a few feet of shelving where your product is located. Not only that they will text that to your phone. So you don’t have to find a pencil and paper and write that down. You don’t have to redo your search when you’re in the store. You just open up your phone see the message they sent you and you can go straight to what you need.
This and other factors make me personally, probably 90% loyal to Home Depot over Lowe’s and other competitors. And I looked at for a broader indicator in last year rise. I tried to find it what Lowe’s sales increase was but I couldn’t find that. But I did see that they were hiring thousands of software developers. So it could be they recognize themselves that they had some catching up to do. I’m going Beyond search, Google minimizes customer effort in different ways. They help you do that to.
Autocomplete tags, they deduced years ago. And intentionally to reduce friction to reduce user effort. But most web do it, least I would say the majority of websites that I visit their forms, do not fully take advantage of autocomplete. Sometimes they were partially sometimes I you know, don’t work at all. Just recently now you see favorite they’re working right your customer can fill out a lengthy form with just a few keystrokes maybe only adding one or two pieces of custom data that are kind of unique to your site.
I was registering for tech conference a few weeks ago with a major tech company. And their form populated every [time] filled with the word Roger. So clearly some coder had gotten super lazy and just replicated the form change, the visible part but not change the underlying code. So every single person that filled out this form had to enter about a dozen fields made by manually typing in all that information. Probably a hundred times more effort. There would have been required to have this than this forehead, had this form been developed properly. So be like Google, minimize user effort. I’ll give you an example of marketing friction. Hopefully you are guilty of this but Office Depot, I needed a one-page high-colored high quality color print out and couldn’t do that in my office. So I uploaded the file print out. It was less than a dollar order. So I picked it up. Everything was fine until I got home and apparently I awoke The Office Depot email dragon.
Because suddenly I was getting two to four sales emails per day from them after that $0.99 purchase. And the first few days I just deleted them. I kept awaiting them, and by the one week point, it started to get kind of annoying. By about 10 days. I said, well, I don’t want to spend time deleting these emails every single day. So I did what probably all of us would do and I hit unsubscribe. Now, I would have every reason to be loyal to Office Depot.
They’re the closest office or to me and I would not have objected to getting an occasional well targeted sales email from them. But by inundating me in forcing me to work every single day, they caused me to severe that connection.
And now trust and friction kind of work in a position where there is trust there’s always less friction. And it’s important to remember that trust is reciprocated when you show that you trust somebody they’re more likely to trust you. One way Amazon shows they trust you is often when you return something and drop it off in their locker or scan it in UPS by the time you get back to your home or office you’ll find an email from them saying they credited your account. They don’t know you shipped back what you said you were going to but they’re showing that they trust you by doing that. And that increases your trust.
Amazon is one of the most trusted brands in the world. And where the high trust makes a difference is in both conversion and loyalty. Your customers are probably constantly tempted by other vendors. You might have a lower price. Maybe they could deliver a little bit more quickly. But if they trust you and they trust another company less much as I trust Amazon more than I do eBay sellers, they will continue to shop with you just as I continue to shop at Amazon.
Now security is a huge issue these days and unfortunately friction is a consequence of trying to prevent fraud and prevent security breaches and hacks. You know what I’m talking about. That’s crazy password requirements that are impossible to set up and even harder to remember to a couple of weeks later. I was registering for an account and I guess buying shoes I said, ‘okay, I’m going to actually set up an account, I didn’t have to do that.’ But I wanted to set up an account with them in case I wanted to buy again. The very first requirement for password was one mixed case letters. I had no idea what a mixed case letter was. I kept trying and finally after about six or eight attempts, I found a password. But it accepted and strangely enough, I was even lucky enough to type it in twice in the password confirm box. So I was able to check out. But how many customers would have given up after one or two attempts and simply gone someplace else.
Another thing, that is really frustrating are these weird sites that don’t recognize you and force you to re-authenticate. Happens to me, but once a month with United Airlines, even though I’m using the same computer I’ve used for the last five years and they start asking me questions about my best friend’s birthday, my books or movies. It’s crazy. Amazon never does this to me. They never asked me say who? Hey, we have no idea who you are. Even though we think we know your computer. That simply does not happen.
And then their CAPTCHAs. We know CAPTCHAs are kind of ridiculous. Whereas some type in words that we can’t even read. Again on United, I was buying Wi-Fi in mid-flight on a recent trip. And what did I see? In the Jewish part of the checkout process, there was a CAPTCHA. Now, it was a simple one at least but are there really that many hackers at 35,000 feet that are trying to get into their crappy Wi-Fi.
Stanford did a study and they show that even just an image capture and it’s 10 seconds to any checkout process or any process at all. And weirdly enough another study showed that machines are way better at these captures and humans took you’re trying to prevent robots from filling out your form. That is probably not the way to go. I know Google has done some nice stuff with recaptcha. They’ve got a new version in 2019. The basically is mostly invisible to the user. But if you can avoid captures completely, I really recommend that you do that.
Now if you’re targeting younger people, millennials and gen Z years, there’s bad news. They are the ones most likely not to put up with any extra friction. In fact one study showed that 38 percent said they had stopped signing up for an online account simply because it was too difficult or took too long. I’ll give you an example of sort of security friction gone wry. I was trying to do some uploads and seems slow said, “I’m going to jump on my internet service provider and see what speed I’m paying for simple tasks, right?”
I couldn’t find online after 10 minutes of searching. I started an online chat with them And I said, I need to know what’s free time sign up for so first US city and state. Okay, that’s fine. I gave her that but then she wants a four digit code located on my invoice now. I’m setting my computer. I didn’t have an invoice handy. But they said no they’ve got to have that as part of their security process. And it’s crazy.
They just said if we confirm I can give them a four digit code and that if I could give her if I downloaded a PDF now.
I know what PDFs are but how many people do you know who either don’t know what a PDF is or if they did download a pdf they would never find it on their hard drive? Crazy amount of friction. And so she could tell he was getting aggravated. So it’s time to paste the apology. So we put some this long text telling me that all this effort is for my peace of mind. I can tell you my mind was not very peaceful. In fact, my aggravation level was starting to peak. So finally, I did find a pdf online. I found my number and she immediately told me what my speed was. That part was okay. But then they said will you provide feedback? Okay, here’s my opportunity to tell him what I thought of their awful process and whoops […]. It’s not about their terrible user experience instead. It’s time to throw the agent under the bus they ask first if you were given the opportunity would you chat with our agent?
Rate your agent on a scale of 1 to 5. What your agent do well or badly and they gave me a thousand characters to talk about the agent. But no talkspace so I used that space to complain about their bad processes. But did I ever hear from them? No, of course, I didn’t. Nevertheless their commitment is to serving the customers and exceeding their expectations. They certainly exceeded my expectations for friction. And this is one reason why cable TV providers and ISPs have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any Industries tested.
And instead be like Amazon use intelligent layered security. You know, I said Amazon always keeps you logged in and you can always but it’s not entirely true. If you decide to send gift cards to other people or if you decide to ship a TV to an address you never sent anything to before they will re-authenticate you. But 99% of the time they keep you logged in so you can search, you can shop. You can do. You can click that one click order button and keep ordering. You can check out you can do any of the stuff that you want to do, all the time without a re-authentication process.
And also, I guess one of the lessons from this is if you are serving your customers don’t be afraid to ask the right questions.
I think the reason they were asking about the agent is because they didn’t want to ask about their user experience, which I knew was horrible. Almost every company says it is customer centric but very few behave that way if it might cost them money today. And another important point is that your customers are comparing your customer experience and user experience not to your direct competitors. Even though that’s a good beating comparison for you and say: “Yeah, well we’re better than our direct competitors.” They are comparing you to the smoothest experiences that they have anywhere to an online shopping experience experience at Amazon to a user experience like uber provides and a frictionless, effortless experience like Google offers.
All these people set the standard, and if you can’t deliver that standard of service in your own interactions, they will find it high effort. So it’s important that you find your friction. You do that a lot of ways you can do it by observing customer behavior. This is one of the simplest ways often. I’m using a website or an app trying to figure out what to do and I’m not an experienced user and I can’t really figure out what they want me to do next. And I wonder, did they ever actually watched a naive or novice do this for the first time? Probably you can use lab testing. You can use web based testing. If you want feedback on a new interface element, you can often get feedback for a very low price within just a few hours from panels of online users. You can use all kinds of tools.
You can do click tracking. You can do eye tracking. There are any number of different solutions you can use behavioral analytics where if you have a lot of data that may be the only way to really find hidden element friction that don’t affect the entire cycle to make that particular products or categories.
But whatever you do, I’ll use something not to look at your user behavior. Find out where those friction points are and eliminate them. Now. I mentioned that other kind of friction. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. It’s called Chi. I call it cognitive friction. This is in your users’ head. It’s not real friction, but it’s very real in their effect on and its effect on their behavior. A classic study comes from the University of Minnesota where they asked subjects how long it would take to perform a simple exercise. Half saw very simple, easy to read font. The other half saw this slightly harder to read, brushy font. Now the folks that saw the sans-serif arial font estimated, it will take eight minutes to do. The other group said it would take 15 minutes to do.
Now, see it’s the exact same wording, same size text everything. But the difficulty in reading or the difficulty in mentally processing the different font, those slightly fancier fonts, maybe activity itself seemed more effortful. So, if you want to minimize cognitive friction, don’t we design up to the graphic designers? You want to be sure you’ve got simple fonts, short text and really easy to redesign.
So, to sum up, friction changes behavior. I think we can all agree on that. There’s plenty of evidence scientifically and above experientially as well. And ideally in your organization, first you want to focus on a friction free customer experience. But what I’ve found is, once your people start focusing on taking the friction out of the customer experience, they will start wanting to take it out of their own experience. They will start seeing where their internal processes are effortful, where they don’t need to require that much effort. They can see where they’re wasting time in meetings, in processing emails that aren’t essential, in following rules and procedures that just don’t make sense and aren’t necessary either for the customer standpoint or even the businesses standpoint. And once you can integrate both a friction free customer experience and employee experience, then you’ll really have the optimum situation. Because when your employees are happy, they can deliver a better customer experience. So I promised that I would give you all friction goggles. And let me explain what I meant by that.
Once you start seeing friction and hopefully you have started seeing some here today – You can’t stop seeing it. And the reason is your brain’s reticular activating system. This is a part of your brain that screens out stuff that you don’t need to see. So, if you’re crossing times square, for example, your RAS will screen out everything except the crosswalk indicator, oncoming cars in the people right around you. Otherwise you’d be paralyzed by thousands of other distractions that have nothing to do with crossing the street, but would overwhelm your brain. And probably many of you have experienced your RAS in action, but didn’t realize it. If you’ve ever purchased a new car and then within a week or two you suddenly start seeing cars that look like yours everywhere. You want to know where all these cars come from?
Those cars were there all along. It’s just that now your RAS recognizes that is potentially being something important since it looks like your car and it lets it through before it screened it out. And so I encourage you to activate your RAS. I’m thinking that we’ve done that here today already, but continue to keep it activated. I’ll keep a friction journal. Jot stuff down. Dump into evernote when you see it. Do a screen grab. My Mac desktop is littered with screen grabs of high friction experiences wherever I encounter one of these things.
I do a quick grab, and ends up on my desk like something to put in a blog post or some, sometimes even in a slide presentation. But if nothing else I’m activating my RAS by doing that. And if you’re in having an in-person experience, say in a retail store or some other place take a photo. And above all, you may not be in a position to control everything in your organization. But you have my permission to expose bad user experience and bad customer experience both in your business and other people’s businesses. And also you have permission to push back against those departments in your organization that don’t necessarily have customer experience and user experience in their job description. Obviously people who were responsible for legal, for IT, for compliance, all have important jobs. Their goal is to protect the company to operate in an economical fashion. And those, these are very important goals.
But they cannot use their authority to cripple your customer experience. Ultimately a business decision needs to be made to balance customer experience and these other important and valid concerns. And when you push back you can elevate that discussion hopefully to a level where someone can wait. Make that judgment, as opposed to simply another department getting full sway over your customer experience. So in short, I want you to see friction, fix it and I think that then you will both increase conversions and build loyalty. So thank you very much. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or check out my website.
Anubhav: Thank you so much Roger. That was a really insightful presentation. Now we know why these big brands have so many happy customers. They offer frictionless experience and make it super easy for their customers.
Roger: That’s it. That’s it. That’s a big, big part of their secret in every case. Not the only thing. They do other things right too but it’s a key part of it. I mean if you look at Bing. Bing has a pretty high quality search results, but Google makes it consistently easier to find what you’re looking.
Anubhav:In your presentation, you mentioned that reviews on social media play a role in influencing customers. How can businesses leverage the opinions of customers to drive loyalty?
Roger: Right! Well, you know, I think the data from Amazon and the frustration-free packaging is significant. Because what they showed is that an easier experience actually helped with the reviews of the product itself. Where you know, we all know product reviews are kind of strange.
People give a product a bad review because the box it arrived in was damaged or something. Whereas it was not the product’s fault, it was the carriers’ fault. But people don’t always get that. We know that people are influenced by unconscious biases. Look at the results in that one of the last slides I showed was how people thought an exercise would take twice as long when it was printed in different font.
So they’re all these unconscious influences that affect the way people think, behave. And when people have a better overall experience there, they will review products in a more kindly way. In fact, there’s one great piece of bit, I did talk about. And few years back in the UK, people were asked about what they thought about their home television as they left a supermarket. So this was kind of a random question people are asking as you are leaving a supermarket and somebody is asking them how much they like their television at home. So it’s not really related but here’s the experiment. Half the people had received a food sample shortly before answering the question and the other half hadn’t and what the experimenters found was.
The people who had received the soul food sample had a much better impression of their home television than people who hadn’t. So, it makes no sense at all, why a food sample a few minutes before, but it did. So, I think that any time you can improve the customer experience in some way.
That’s going to have a halo effect on everything else though.
Anubhav: Got it. Got it. Thanks for the answer. Roger, this brings me to my second question. Your book touches upon a very important topic which is Neuromarketing. How can businesses leverage neuromarketing to influence their customers and increase their conversions.
Roger: Well, I think that there are a couple things about neuromarketing. First of all, let’s define it. I have a broad definition of neuromarketing which is any use of our understanding of how the brain works to improve your marketing. Some folks use a little bit more narrowly where they will talk about using tools like EEG or bio metric measurements or physiological measurements, while people are looking at an advertisement or packaging or something like that.
So there’s a whole gamut of ways, you can use neural marketing. The good news is that even the techniques that were once only used by big brands, these EEG and eye tracking and such now are getting more economical so that they can sometimes be used by smaller companies. But still there are a lot of both, companies that really can’t afford to engage in that kind of study every time they have a question. And even businesses can’t answer every question that way if they’re going to do a Super Bowl ad. It makes sense to invest in a costly test like that. But if I want to figure out, compared to headlines or something like that, that’s probably not going to be economical. So there are the techniques that I recommend are based on behavioral science and science of persuasion, the science of influence. My first book, Brainfluence, I outlined a hundred strategies like this that involve everything from choosing the right imagery to writing copy and so on in a way that appeals to the brain often in ways that the customer isn’t aware of necessarily, but they have an influence.
I’ll give you a real life example. If you go to a travel site, you will find all kinds of non-conscious cues there. You will find things that say when he when he searched for hotel say you’ll see that this hotel only has two rooms left. So that’s the principle of scarcity that was first integrated by Robert Cialdini 30-plus years ago. They will show that 100 people have booked this hotel in the last two days that’s social proof and other shelling principle. And I could go on and on but these things do not cost you anything to use because they’re typically design changes or coding changes that you do once and then they operate automatically on your website or your app, but they can have a profound influence on sales.
Believe me the good travel sites, Booking.com, Expedia and so on. If you see something on their website for a while it is there because it works because they do extensive testing and that’s what they were all about here. Their right is experimentation. And I think that’s something I think is a general rule. Even if you are just getting started with this process. You can learn from those sites to do sophisticated testing. See what they’re doing. Amazon uses all kinds of cues. They use FREE in multiple places, even where free is kind of a not necessarily applicable everything. They’ll say there’s free shipping if you do this. Or this audible book is free, if you sign up for the first time. But free has been shown to be a powerful subconscious motivator. And so when you see really successful websites doing something over a period of months or longer that it is working for them and you can try emulating that. You can see that’s a good way to start your own testing process.
Anubhav: Right, right. Thank you so much for that answer. You mentioned books in your answer. So Robert, you’ve been a best-selling author and you have been an author of many books. What sort of books would you recommend to people watching this presentation?
Robert: Well sure! I’ll go beyond beyond my own FRICTION and BRAINFLUENCE.
I think that Robert Cialdini’s Influence book, even though it’s 30 plus years old, there is a new edition out. And I find that I think about those principles or his principles so much, they pretty much internalized. Well now it’s automatic. I don’t want to open up the book anymore. So I think that’s when I think PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL by Dan Ariely is not a marketing ho- to book, but it’s a great illustration of how people make decisions in the real world in an often illogical or irrational way. And if you or perhaps your boss need any convincing of that, that’s a great place to start. Bit of a readable book a little bit more scholarly book, but it’s still very accessible and again teaches us all about these human biases.
How humans are risk averse and how rephrasing the exact same situation where you know medicine that has either a 90% success successful cure rate, or a 10% fatality rate depending on which way you express that, people behave very differently, even though the numbers are identical. So that’s a great book.
And so I think those are probably some good starts, probably in the conversion space. There are some others things like Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash, [and] Chris Goward’s ‘You Should Test That’, and some other ones. But I think starting with some of the more basic approaches is the best way to really understand how you might be able to apply some of these brain-based techniques.
Anubhav: Wow, that’s an amazing list. So, Roger, this brings us to the last question. How do our audience connect with you? Like if someone has questions, how do they reach out to you?
Roger: The best place to start would be RogerDooley.com. That’s where the jumping-off point. From there, you can reach my podcast. You can reach my blog posts, my social media contacts. My books are shown there and on social media. I am most active on Twitter at where I am @RogerDooley. Although you will find me on Instagram, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook.
Anubhav: Okay, Perfect! Thank you so much for your time, Roger. It was lovely having you here.
Roger: Well, thanks so much for inviting me.
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