Measuring Friction in Customer Experience

March 3, 2020

Deb Furey, SVP Solutions

Think of the last time you tried to exchange an item you purchased online  - were the needed options available in the package?  Did you have to pay for exchange shipping?  Did you ultimately have to call a call center to get what you wanted? Maybe a lingering memory of the challenges you experienced in the process became barrier to your next purchase.  In fact, customers are 4 times more likely to become less loyal after any given interaction with a company – as they attempt to explore, compare, customize, purchase or return products or services.[1]  This dynamic is due to unintended friction that customers experience in these interactions.  

How can companies identify areas of friction in customer experiences (CX) that destroy loyalty?

It starts with building an approach to measurement that provides insights and directs productive CX changes. And it’s not easy; according to recent survey of 200 CX execs by QualtricsXM, only about 8% of companies that ranked highest in delivering great customer experiences were also able to effectively measure and interpret CX KPIs. This is clearly an area of opportunity - one where focusing first on friction in experience will yield meaningful actions.

Friction is the level of effort that customers need to exert to complete a desired activity – Friction metrics include:

How difficult is it to complete?”

Journey/pathway metrics include the steps, options, choices and effort that consumers must make to complete key tasks (e.g. log in, purchase a product)

“What is the real evidence?”

Open, click, wait times, and other behavioral metrics that show how and when customers are able to proceed or abandon activities

“How difficult do customers think it is?”

Perception metrics such as transaction-level feedback (e.g., online surveys) on experience highlight customer beliefs of the process, product, outcomes

These metrics provide a strong diagnostic and deliver actionable insights on what is and is not working at key points in the customer journey - and they are best evaluated based on different customer intentions to show demand for alternative pathways.  For example, a customer asking for support on a product issue will need a streamlined route to live agent support whereas a customer exploring product configuration options may need an online comparison tool.  

At BLEND360 we use analysis tools, such as experience / journey mapping, customer and channel analytics (e.g., digital, call center, etc.) to evaluate and point out prime challenge in terms of drop-offs, annoyances and opportunities which can then be validated, prioritized and addressed.  We also often append additional data sets to build a full profile of customers, their needs and interests. Taken together these metrics can be evaluated for signals, and ultimately, benchmarks for experience friction and success.  

Do you have friction challenges in your customers’ experiences?  How have you addressed them?

Customer Loyalty. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2020, from