How Mobility Can Help Cut Friction from Customer Experiences

In today’s highly-competitive business environment, friction—or the lack of it—can mean losing or keeping a customer, voiding or completing a transaction, and struggling or thriving in the market. Basically, it can mean the difference between failure and success.

Customer friction can be anything from having to wait on hold for half an hour to speak with an agent, to discovering that a company shipped the wrong product. Regardless of where friction happens, customers have little forgiveness for it.

Businesses need to reduce friction as much as possible. No one wants to have to wait on hold for 20 minutes to order a product or speak with a help desk. No one wants to stare at a mobile device screen waiting for content to load or have to parse through a company’s website for relevant information.

Wireless and mobile technologies can play a huge role in helping create or reduce friction—and how businesses deliver mobile experiences for their customers is a key factor in achieving success.

There’s no question that customer experience is now one of the key focal points for enterprises. Professional services and consulting firm PwC noted in a 2018 report that “people are increasingly loyal to the retailers, products, brands and devices that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress.”

“Good customer experience minimizes friction, maximizes speed and efficiency, and maintains a human element, embedded within automation, artificial intelligence (AI) or other technologies,” said PwC. “It leaves consumers feeling heard, seen, and appreciated. It has a tangible impact that can be measured in dollars and cents.”

And research firm Gartner Inc. said customer experience “is the new marketing battlefront.” According to the firm’s research, more than two thirds of marketers responsible for customer experience say their companies compete mostly on the basis of these experiences.

Enhancing the Mobile Experience

Think about this: the average U.S. adult will spend nearly 3.75 hours each day on mobile devices, according to 2019 research by eMarketer. That means businesses need to leverage mobility at each stage of the customer journey to ensure a quality experience. And expectations for good experiences continue to rise as consumers expect faster service and more personalization.

One clear way to enhance experience is remove or reduce friction from the equation. Here are some of the ways customers can experience friction in a mobile environment—and how companies can address these issues:

  • A retail company has poor service coverage in some of its stores, meaning that customers can’t use their mobile devices optimally to make calls or send texts, access the Internet, buy products, and perform other tasks. To address this, the company should understand how its wireless carrier can support it at all levels of the bandwidth spectrum, to ensure consistent connectivity, regardless of which store, kiosk, or other commercial setting customers visit.
  • Inadequate network bandwidth results in slow customer service for an e-commerce company when employees are trying to get through to customers, business partners, colleagues, etc. Resolving this starts with understanding how much bandwidth is needed, delivering that, and then planning for future bandwidth demands.
  • A manager in a factory gets slow data feedback and poor performance on connected machines in an Internet of Things (IoT) environment due to inadequate bandwidth. To address this, the company should understand how its wireless provider can help customize and optimize connected devices and network solutions in ways that Wi-Fi might not address.
5G to the Rescue?

Over time, 5G connectivity will have a big impact on customer experience and can help enterprises in their efforts to eliminate friction. It will support lower latency for better responsiveness, faster download speeds, and greater network reliability. All of these represent tremendous opportunities to enhance customer experience.

A February 2019 report by Heavy Reading (in conjunction with Light Reading, Accenture, and VIAVI Solutions) stated that 5G “will transform customer experiences on numerous levels.” The buzz around 5G revolves around three main advances, the report said: its ability to support real-time interactions and low latency; the massive density it will support; and the speed it will achieve.

The report, based on an online survey of 119 network operators worldwide conducted in January 2019, found that these key advances were identified as the most valuable features of 5G.

Already, these capabilities are enabling activities across networks that were never feasible before, such as streaming 8K ultra high-definition video, data processing and navigation in driverless cars, and connected healthcare device monitoring systems. Low latency, higher broadband speeds, and massive connectivity between machines rank as the leading 5G features expected to be the most valuable to customers.

More than 60% of the survey respondents cited AI-based decision making and high-resolution video as the experiences that will lead 5G’s use cases. At a lower tier, edge computing and immersive experiences through augmented reality and virtual reality followed as the next leading experiences.

While businesses are looking toward the arrival of 5G, it’s a mistake to sit back and wait for the new wireless technologies to deliver their full potential. Technology leaders need to be doing everything they can today to eliminate friction from processes and improve customer experience.

Mobile-centric companies, in particular, can make friction a thing of the past by making it easier than ever for customers to research products and services online, contact support for help, place orders for products, and perform other functions.

To learn more about how your company can deliver better customer experiences, watch the T-Mobile for Business and Bloomberg roadshow series recap.

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