August 23, 2022

How to design a frictionless customer experience - A McDonald’s case study.

In today’s fast-paced world of on-demand services, entertainment, and products, customers have high expectations. Consumers now expect to have a good customer experience, an experience that works for them based on their preferences. Facebook IQ's Zero Friction Future project says that 65% of retail shoppers are now more likely to choose brands first for convenience and then price.

This is no easy feat for business, no matter how large or small they are. One key element of great customer experience is less friction in the customer journey. Today we’re going to look at how to achieve a frictionless customer experience for your business and understand how McDonalds did it.

A frictionless customer experience 

On July 26, 2021, a long note was sent as an email to McDonald's Owner/Operators, company employees and suppliers worldwide. The most important part of it was this:

“It’s clear to me that we need to create a more frictionless customer experience across all of our service channels. Our customers should be able to move seamlessly between the in-store, takeaway and delivery service channels so that we offer even more convenience and better personalization.

As I thought about this future, I concluded that we needed to remove some internal barriers and silos that ultimately lead to a fragmented customer experience. If we put our customers first, then our organization structure needs to reflect the customer experience we want to provide – not the other way around.

That’s why today I am announcing the creation of a new Customer Experience team, bringing together the Corporate teams central to our “M-C-D” growth pillars - Global Marketing, Global Restaurant Development and Restaurant Solutions, Data Analytics, and Digital Customer Engagement.”

What is the friction in your customer experience?

If McDonald’s is willing to invest in a new team to identify friction points in their customer journey, it means we should, at least, try to go over what our customers are experience in their path to purchase.

In short, customer friction is any step in the customer experience that impedes the customer from buying the product, having success with the product, or finding value in the product. That might sound a little complex, but think of it as basically any hurdle that gets in the customer’s way.

The benefits of a frictionless experience

McDonalds, which a few years ago had only four shopping journeys, now have 28, which means 28 different purchase paths, with multiple purchase channels.

What they are doing today is: menus with options that cover different needs, from gourmet to vegetarian. Another adaptation we see is the investment in more pleasant or even instagrammable spaces and, why not, with a touch of luxury.

Exceptional customer experience builds a foundation of loyalty and improves customer retention. Customers are willing to pay more for the same products and services if they feel the companies are providing extra value through interactions.

How to eliminate friction?

Removing customer friction isn’t always about billion-dollar programs and breakthrough apps. There are a ton of little things you can probably do today to remove at least a little friction from your product and process.

Take a walk through your purchase process and product usage as your customer would. Or, better yet, ask a few of them about their experience. Don’t wait until you start getting a reputation for poor customer service. At that point, the dysfunction has already set in.

After all, how can you know if a path has obstacles if you've never been through it? That's why it's important to study your audience again, put yourself in their shoes. Understand what has changed in the last few years and what they want now.


Most companies spend a lot of time thinking about customer service. Very few companies spend time removing customer friction. But even companies with excellent customer service can be susceptible to losing both existing and potential customers to friction. That’s why investing in customer service should be a priority for your business. According to McKensey and Company "71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions—and three-quarters will switch if they don’t like their experience".Interested in enhancing your customer experience? Come talk to us.

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