by Toby Trygg

Part 3: Transactional Friction

Bonjour mes amis, and welcome back to my musings on the impact friction has on the patient-consumer journey in the pharma/health care marketing vertical. To recap, we have before broadly defined friction in part one of this series, and further expounded upon said definition in part two, where we would together (ironically) discover what is known as discovery friction.

So where do we go from here? Like the Pied Piper of a frictionless future, I now humbly ask you to follow me to the next stage of the patient-consumer journey where we find something called transactional friction. After your target has navigated the friction-infested waters of the discovery stage and managed to select your product or service from the multitude of competing offerings, transaction is where the rubber really hits the road and eliminating friction becomes more paramount than ever. Why? I’m glad you asked.

87% of consumers say that a complicated checkout process will make them abandon their shopping cart.

Pharma and health care brands, especially ones that are slower to adapt to more modern technologies and user experiences, will feel this sting rather acutely. What, exactly, does that mean? Simply that this transactional friction is equally prevalent in stores and in digital journeys when consumers experience unexpected steps and processes, even after selecting a desired product or service.

Worst of all, transactional friction puts tangible barriers between customers and their desire to complete their transactions. Look no further for examples of this than in slow or inconsistent site performance, limited payment options and transaction failures, long and redundant forms, and/or forcing customers to create an account before they can do business with you. In each of these cases, you’re putting unnecessary steps between yourself and people who are trying to give you money for your product or service. And that’s the last thing you want, amirite?

But if you work diligently to reduce the frictional pain points outlined above, you’re home free, right? Not so fast, friend. Once payment is completed, consumers also expect rapid fulfillment, status updates—including purchase confirmation emails and delivery timeslots—and support for their product or service. Transactional friction continues to occur when consumers experience impediments to receiving products or services, or are unable to easily access the guidance needed to use or repurchase the product.

No matter the industry, but especially in pharma and health care, fulfillment, customer support and service are essential to any successful brand. Patients and consumers might face difficulties with a newly purchased product or service, such as struggling with delivery tracking or location of point of purchase, missing packages or even damaged items. And we all know they’re going to have questions. Lots of questions. Which means you’ve got to be there to answer them.

What’s even worse, a bad customer service experience increases the likelihood of customers switching to a competitor. Don’t believe me? Trust the much bigger brains at Accenture:

Their research shows that 52% of consumers have switched brands because of poor customer service.

In summary, the reduction of transactional friction is paramount for brands navigating the health care/pharma marketplace, and hoping to do so with aplomb. Hopefully the pain points outlined above will give you an idea on where you currently stand and what you need to do vis-à-vis making your consumer’s journey as smooth as possible. Come back next time for the final part of my blog and I promise to provide suggestions and recommendations on how to live free of friction in 2020 and beyond.


This is the third in a series of blog posts from Toby Trygg, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy Health, about understanding and reducing friction during patient, caregiver, and healthcare professional experiences.