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Little Things Can Make or Break the Consumer Experience

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Consider what a single second costs giants like Amazon and Google.

Amazon claims that a one-second slowdown on its pages could cost it $1.6 billion a year. Google has said that slowing pages even 4/10 of a second means losing 8 million searches per day plus all the revenue from its attendant ad messages.

A small issue for an individual can add up quickly to create a problem for the company. For example, asking consumers to make two clicks to find out the details of a sale may not seem like a lot, but doing so could annoy enough people to cause a significant drop-off in conversion rates. Also, portraying stereotypical images of people alongside highly personalized content can turn a lot of customers off an important message.

In every interaction between a consumer and a brand, there are probably hundreds of opportunities to sabotage or advance the relationship.

Understanding what matters to consumers and working to reduce the friction they encounter during interactions with a brand can go a long way. Maximizing those little connections can have the cumulative effect of improving the brand and the company's bottom line.


Achieving small victories

For an example of a small victory, look at the average mobile website. In a recent survey of 100,000 shoppers, Bizrate found that consumers' top complaint was having to pinch and zoom their screen to click a button. After going to the effort to do that, consumers often wound up clicking on the wrong thing. Marketers can remedy that frustrating experience by "padding" buttons or images with extra pixels, so that they're easy to click.

Sometimes, redirection works as well as a solution. An urban legend has it that a Manhattan building manager installed a mirror in the building's elevators to distract tenants bothered by long, boring rides. The plan worked. Tenants spent the ride checking themselves out, and complaints fell sharply. Years later, Disney took this lesson to heart by entertaining parents and kids waiting in line with interactive exhibits.

Well-placed changes to customer experiences can also increase consumer satisfaction (and sales). For example, Japanese burger chain Freshness Burger introduced a face-hiding "liberation wrapper," which allowed women to chomp on a burger without appearing to do so. Sales rose 213% after the chain introduced the wrapper, according to the Tokyo Times.

Providing a frictionless consumer experience

In each of those examples, a marketer developed a deep understanding of the pain points affecting the consumer. Someone asked, "Why are so few people clicking on our mobile website?" or "What can we do to make people happier when they're waiting in line?" or "Why aren't women eating our hamburgers?"

Consumers used to have no option but to put up with such distractions. These days, the power in the relationship is reversed.

Now, consumers can abandon brands that create too much friction and can turn to a more efficient brand. Think about how Amazon replaces the need to go to bookstores and how Uber eliminates the annoyance of hailing a taxi.

Moreover, many traditional brands have pivoted sharply to keep the consumer happy. To maintain a "one-stop shopping" goal, Wal-Mart has become the largest seller of organic produce, once considered a luxury item that didn't fit its brand. Dove stopped using models in favor of more realistic and varied women to appeal to its buyers' need for authenticity.

Consumers leave clues everywhere

Abandoned shopping carts, bad reviews, unused features, high return rates, and a bad reputation in social media are all examples of consumers voicing their opinions.

In addition to reading all those signs, marketers should also test, test, and test even seemingly small new features.

For example, image carousels are popular with marketers today. They seem modern and eye-catching, but studies indicate that they only perform better than static images when they load quickly and are placed so as to not distract from written content.

Digging deep into behavioral feedback will put your focus where it should be—on the consumer.

By taking a granular look at how consumers interact with your brand, you can make their experience easier and parlay all those seemingly insignificant interactions into a big win.


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Nick Worth is CMO of Selligent, a leading independent provider of 1-to-1 engagement solutions for relationship marketers.

LinkedIn: Nick Worth 

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