What’s Your Company’s Customer Friction Factor?

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A huge focus of digitization in business today is streamlining interactions with customers, suppliers, and partners. In fact, customers are supposed to be the center of focus when designing new processes and systems or overhauling existing ones. Ideally, touchpoints with the customer should be slick, optimized, intuitive, and as efficient as possible.

Recently, I began considering how to quantify my experience as a customer of various businesses while using their services or products. Although many customer satisfaction score methodologies exist, they all suffer from a fatal flaw: it requires the customer to fill in a survey. I started thinking about how to score an interaction by evaluating the tools, process, and time it took.

To that end, let me introduce you to the Customer Friction Factor (CFF). A CFF score is like a golf score—the lower the score, the better the experience. There is no upper limit to how large a CFF can be, and that parallels my experience in dealing with many companies through the years.

CFF points are added for things that take time or energy from a customer and subtracted for things that simplify things for a customer. Below are a few examples (the CFF point list is much larger in total).

Points added for online system and application difficulties

  • Multiple systems to perform a task: 10 points per each additional system
  • Non-intuitive interface: 5 points per window or screen
  • Acronyms not explained with a hover or right-click: 2 points
  • Click: 1 point
  • Keystroke: 1 point
  • New screen/refresh: 5 points

Points added for phone call difficulties

  • Customer initiated call: 10 points
  • Add a point for every minute on hold
  • Add 10 points if the customer has to leave a call-back message
  • Business initiated call: 5 points
  • Information that needed to be repeated that was previously given to some part of the business: 25 points

Points added for in-person visits:

  • Taking a number: 20 points
  • Filling out a paper form: 25 points

Points deducted for multiple customer channel options:

  • Per customer device (PC, iPhone, Droid, telephone number with live operators): 2 points

Points deducted for delivery time:

  • Faster than estimate: 5 points

The process of awarding a CFF score looks at a particular process and evaluates all those items and more. Scores can be used to benchmark a business against others in an industry group and provide areas for improvements. Scores can also be wildly different depending on the type of process.

Here are some sample scores from buying a digital copy of a book from Amazon and renewing my auto insurance.

Amazon purchase = 32 points

  • 6 clicks: 6 points
  • 14 keystrokes: 14 points
  • 2 additional screens: 2 points
  • Non-intuitive interface: 0 points
  • Additional system required (Kindle software): 10 points
  • Delivery time (under an hour): 0 points

Automotive insurance renewal = 450 points

  • Phone calls from customer (me), five, including three requesting a call back:  80 points
  • Phone calls from business (insurance agent), three: 15 points
  • Repeating information that was previously given to the business (two instances): 50 points
  • Delivery time (total elapsed time), four weeks (10 points a day): 280 points
  • Missed commitment (failure to follow up as promised to customer): 25 points

I’ve only scratched the surface of the CFF, but hopefully I’ve given you a feel for what it reveals. In essence,it can be used to judge how fast and slick a process is— or how slow and cumbersome it is. It works for online transactions, phone calls, and in-person visits. It rewards quick and easy interactions and punishes long drawn out interactions.

It stands to reason that I’m happier with Amazon than my insurance agent. But maybe that will always be true.

Post Date: 10/7/2015

Brad Rucker - NTT DATA Brad Rucker

About the author

In 1981, Mr. Rucker spent his entire monthly salary on a TRS-80 Color Computer, taught himself to code and never looked back. Since then he has been a programmer, DBA, system designer, project manager, CIO, CTO and COO. Currently he serves as SVP of the Digital Applications & Information Management Practices at NTT DATA Services.

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