Customer Experience: Fluidity vs. Friction

By December 12, 2017Digital, Marketing, Strategy

Every morning when I wake up, I pause for a moment. I think about the coming day and try to anticipate obstacles I may encounter. I hope for my entire day to go without a single hitch. I know it’s unrealistic, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to make it happen. By the time I’m done brushing my teeth often I’ve already met with some challenges, whether it’s stepping on the dog getting out of bed or having my shower turn cold because my teenager has used all the hot water. My experience has gone from fluid to fraught with friction.

As a marketer, I employ the same thinking when it comes to the brands I work with. I am always striving to provide the most fluid customer experience, reduce friction and drive customers from awareness to affinity. I constantly try to anticipate the obstacles and challenges of a customer’s journey and create a marketing strategy that delivers the ultimate brand experience. Customers demand it. If you don’t deliver, they may move on.

As Michael Klein describes it on Adobe’s Digital Marketing Blog, “Every (brand) should focus on delivering a consistent and cohesive omnichannel experience. But, more and more, it’s becoming clear that sophisticated (customers) want more. They want fluidity between all touchpoints — whether digital or physical.” This is raising the bar for all brands.

Speaking of friction, the customer experience is a huge point of friction for many brands. They know what their business goals are, they know who their customers are and they want to give their customers the best experience possible. But they don’t know what combination of channels, content and interaction will create a fluid experience. They don’t know how to seamlessly cross over between physical and digital touchpoints.

What are some things that cause friction?

  • Messaging that’s inconsistent across traditional and digital channels
  • A frustrating website (too many clicks, missing info, etc.)
  • A mobile app that’s just a reiteration of the website
  • Not being able to contact a real person regardless of channel (in store, online, mobile app, social media)
  • Not being able to find a brand via Google
  • General unresponsiveness

It’s not easy, but I always approach developing a fluid experience from the viewpoint of the customer. I put myself in their shoes and ask, “What is the best possible experience I can have with this brand?” And I follow that immediately with another question: “What will make me, as a customer, achieve the business outcome the brand wants?”

Of course, these are two questions customers never ask themselves. They just want things to work, with absolutely no friction. But if we, as marketers, take a moment every day to anticipate the challenges we put in front of our customers, it becomes much easier to help our brands reach their goals.


With nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, Jim has become widely recognized as a thought leader and innovator. He is driven by finding the exact combination of channels, messaging, products and service to build brands that are relevant in today’s crowded marketplace. Currently, his attention is focused on utilizing digital channels to strengthen our clients’ customer relationships and laser-focus their marketing efforts.