UK report tells CX leaders to introduce ‘positive brand friction’ for better experiences

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising says slowing things down can be one of the best way to accentuate what a brand is offering

Customer experience professionals should stop looking at “friction” as a bad word and understand how it can become a secret weapon, research published by the U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising suggested.

The report, Positive Brand Friction, was published on Wednesday and was based on 26 interviews and online workshops with CX consultancies, marketing, media, advertising and marketing services agencies, and brands.

Although the full report requires a purpose to those who aren’t IPA members, a high-level overview of the key findings and takeaways was offered in an online session led by Nick Milne, founder and director of Go Ignite Consulting and a co-author of the research. 

Milne suggested organizations need to take a more holistic approach to “experience” that no only considers customers but brand, product and services and employees.

He also offered a more comprehensive definition of what “experience” in that context would be:

An experience consisted of “uniquely recognizable movements of positive brand friction across paid and owned touchpoints, allowing consumers and customers to functionally and effortlessly interact across all touchpoints during which they purchase or use what the brand has to offer,” Milne said.

While the CX community often talks about the effort for completely frictionless experience in digital and offline channels, Milne said positive brand friction could be understand as “purposely slowing down the experience to accentuate the brand so it positively impacts the experience without making it harder for the customer.”

A good example would be the retailer Hotel Chocolat, Milne said, which greets consumers walking into their store locations with staff who hold trays of samples. Yes, this technically gets in the way of a consumer selecting a product and buying it, Milne said, but it’s the kind of friction you want.”

“They can have conversation moments, as they call it, to highlight the origin of the premium cocoa, so they stand out among all the other retailers selling chocolate on High Street.”

Another example might be Eve, an online supplier of mattresses. Like many in its sector, the firm had offered customers a 100-day trial period, during which they could return a mattress if they were unsatisfied for any reason.

“During a lockdown, 100 days doesn’t feel like a very long time,” Milne pointed out, which is why Eve extended that policy to a 200-day trial period. That’s also a bit of friction between trying out a product and completing the purchase, but “everyone knew what they were doing,” Milne said, which was to be more helpful.

The IPA report says CX tensions can be resolved through better intelligence and measurement, improved collaboration and agility. Organizations also need greater simplification and integration of data, rather than more data in and of itself, the report said.

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