Nikhil Govindaraj is Head of Products at goMoxie.

Contactless customer experiences are fast becoming the norm across a wide range of industries, from retail to restaurants to medicine. While this trend has been growing as a safety measure in response to the pandemic, there has been an unintended consequence as well: saving time and effort for customers.

The seeds of the trend were planted years ago by touchless payment services such as Square, Venmo and Apple Pay. These methods were initially seen as something of a novelty — some customers embraced them, while others remained oblivious or uninterested.

As a result of the pandemic, touchless experiences have become an essential way of doing business. When in-store access is limited or unavailable, retail customers are told to place orders ahead of time for curbside fulfillment. When shopping at many big-box retailers, customers can use the retailer’s app to signal when they’ve arrived at the store so their purchases can be brought out and placed in the trunk of their car. For some retailers, this has evolved from a temporary measure into a well-developed part of the retail experience that could last.

And there’s no reason why the benefits of zero-touch interactions should be limited to the physical world. As businesses figure out new ways to reduce customer contact for goods and services that are delivered in person, I think they should also be thinking about how they can do the same in the digital journey. The same principle applies: Zero-touch means zero friction for a more effortless customer experience.

Drawing from my experience working for a company that offers digital guidance technology, such as proactive live chat and web self-service, here’s my advice on how to provide zero-touch digital experiences.

Creating A Touchless Digital World

Providing proactive customer service — and sparing customers the need to engage with your contact center — is one way to create a digital version of this touchless experience. This begins with an understanding of customer needs. You probably already know about some of the places where customers tend to struggle or hesitate in your online experience. Formalize this knowledge by asking contact center agents to document the most frequent types of calls they receive: Questions about sizes, shipping or assembly? Comparisons between similar products? Policies on coupons or returns? Supplement this information with web analytics data on where consumers abandon your website and mobile experiences, and develop a list of top targets for proactive digital guidance.

The guidance you provide can take many forms. For example, if analytics show that consumers tend to leave your site to do more research on your product category, offer a link to a buyer’s guide right on your product page. If they toggle back and forth between two products, provide a comparison chart that makes it easier for them to make the right choice. If people call in to ask whether your sizes run large or small, add more details about finding their fit. If you often get questions such as, “How hard is it to assemble this table?” “Will this couch fit through my doorway?” “What kinds of services are covered under the warranty?” provide answers where appropriate.

As you proceed through your list of top targets, keep an eye on your metrics to assess the effectiveness of your work, and to identify new struggle points as they emerge.

Contactless digital experiences aren’t limited to customer service. Even before people get to the point of needing help, you can provide a better customer experience by using video, virtual dressing rooms, interactive walk-throughs and other rich media to combine the best parts of the in-store experience with the convenience — and safety — of shopping from home.

Just as in the physical world, digital experiences have traditionally been based on the assumption of customer effort. Now that consumers have discovered the benefits of reducing or eliminating much of that effort, they may expect every type of interaction to be easier — including those that take place online. By meeting that expectation, online businesses can transform the digital customer experience for a truly frictionless journey.

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