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Measuring and Eliminating Customer Friction

At FICO, we have the privilege of working with the smartest, most innovative folks in the financial industry on the thorniest, most complex problems facing the industry. This work is challenging, rewarding, and frequently filled with fascinating conversations.

For your benefit, we will periodically reproduce these conversations in FICO blog posts. Today’s post is a condensed version of my conversation with Jack Alton, CEO of Neuro-ID, about the challenges and opportunities in measuring and reducing customer friction.


Tom: 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail to reach their stated goals, which means that roughly $900 billion of the $1.3 trillion that companies are expected to invest in digital transformation will end up being wasted.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this stat lately, as people (including myself) build lists of personal resolutions for 2020. Much like digital transformation initiatives, research tells us that personal transformation (through New Year Resolutions) rarely seems to succeed.

Why do you think the vast majority of digital transformation initiatives (and other large-scale projects focused on improving the customer experience) tend to fail? Are we being too ambitious? Do we need a better way of framing and measuring our goals? How do we start to do better?  

Jack: I think resolutions, in general, could be looked at from two angles: what can be gained – and what can be lost.

What if we changed our approach this new year to focus on what is being lost vs what can be gained? For example, FI’s have been filling the top of the funnel with ever increasing numbers of leads with hopes of increased conversion. However, 9 out of 10 digital customer journeys still result in frustration or failure. What if we turned our focus from conversion to customer experience? What if we began to look closer at the reasons WHY 90% of all digital customer journeys end in failure? We see promising signs in the market with FIs creating entirely new internal organizations built around a Chief Experience Officer, focused on looking for new and better insight to measure CX. By leveraging customer experience analytics, brands are now able see the pain points in the customer journey – to not only quantify the severity of friction, but see the economic impact, and the money left on the table. And that...sparks movement.

Tom: That’s an excellent point. It gets at the idea of control. I think business executives focus so much on lead generation and conversion because those things are easy to measure, understand, and (ultimately) control. You want more leads? You ramp up your advertising budget. Customer experience is hard because, historically, it’s been difficult to measure and thus feel a sense of control over.

As you point out, that’s starting to change. We can now quantify, in exacting detail, the pain points in our customers’ journeys that are leading to that 90% failure rate.

So, let me ask you to put your ‘personal trainer’ hat on for a second. Let’s say a Chief Experience Officer from a large bank comes to you and asks for advice on their 2020 New Year Resolution—scrubbing as much friction out of their digital account opening process as possible. Where would you start?

Jack: Customer-centricity is a hot topic, but until we actually go on the customer journey with the digital customer, including all its ups and downs, we’re simply guessing about what they’re truly experiencing. We need to stop guessing about CX and what might be happening, and leverage the most innovative tools to see and understand friction as it’s occurring.

As we know, digital account opening is an incredibly fragile environment and studies show that a single bad experience can drive away even the most motivated applicants…possibly for good. Opening a new window into the intricacies of friction is the logical first step to reduce it. That new visibility, and what we’ve witnessed first-hand at Neuro-ID, is quite eye-opening. It becomes personal, it becomes human. It quickly becomes a vehicle for real change and real improvements on behalf of the customer.

So, my advice is to move beyond a high-level concept of friction and get into the details – the many flavors of friction experienced on your online forms. The actionable insight lives in the context and narrative of friction unfolding everyday: the UI bugs, hiccups, confusion from wording, how users respond to specific questions, the patterns of where you’re losing people and even areas where we see consistent behavior indicative of fraud. Our solutions help our customers navigate these blind spots that still exist in their digital journey, even when they are leveraging other analytics providers. These behavioral signals, which in our case are captured, measured and translated through years of science and research, serve to baseline your current friction, drive effective A/B testing and continuously monitor the magnitude of friction for every interaction point of your digital journey. This is helping companies keep a pulse on their digital customer experience and take real steps to scrub out friction when and where it occurs.

Resolutions are difficult to stick to, and even harder to start. But the chasm isn’t as wide as you’d think. For CX professionals, upgrading customer experience analytics to real time is an easy, tangible path forward, creating immediate value for brands and their customers. So, let’s make 2020 the year to fight CX friction through awareness, understanding and action.

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