Reducing friction

There is a lot of friction in buying a new house. Agents. Lawyers. Notaries. More agents.

I recently helped design a social media campaign for a client. The campaign was less successful than it could have been because there was too much friction. The process to participate had too many hurdles and some people abandoned it before completing.

One of the most effective things to do to improve your business (not always the simplest but the most effective) is to remove as much friction as humanly possible.

Then remove a little more.

I know a lot of companies that ‘secret shop’ their competitors. Many should secret shop themselves first, with an open mind and a critical eye toward removing friction.

Mint.com beat Intuit’s Quickbooks because it was web-based, but they weren’t the first web-based money management system. A tool called Wesabe was around first. But to use Wesabe (back then), users had to download a .csv from their bank’s website and upload it to their Wesabe account. (I can’t fathom the meeting where that level of friction got approved.)

Friction killed Wesabe.

The lack of friction made Mint.com millions. $187m to be exact.

Netflix took share from Blockbuster by removing friction. With Blockbuster, you had to drive to the store. With Netflix, you just had to go to your mailbox. (Blockbuster quickly followed suit.)

Redbox is taking share from both by removing even more friction. With Redbox, you don’t need a mailbox or even an account.

Think of the amount of friction in a typical Verizon store. Now think of the lack of friction in an Apple store or a Chipotle or a Starbucks.

The simple act of not having to sign certain credit card transactions under $25 removes friction and saves both the retailer and the customer time, saving companies like McDonald’s and others millions of dollars.

Most airlines did a decent job of removing some friction with online check-in and handy touch-screen kiosks. Unfortunately, they stopped there.

Think of the loads of friction in a typical primary care doctor visit. My friend Jay Parkinson is completely reinventing health care delivery, and he’s doing so by removing friction from the process.

I can stop by my local dry-cleaner, leave my shirts on the front counter and smile and wave to the owner in the back. In three days, I come back and my shirts are clean with light starch.

If he can remove friction from his business, you can too, right?

Comments

  1. Indeed! You're right, we don't as businesses think about this often enough, but as a customer, we are confronted with it all the time. We decided not to go to a certain store ever again because for the second time in a row, it took forever for a sales person to help us.

    This is also a very hot topic right now in developer/tech world, especially with the arrival of the iPad. Flash is a "problem" to many, but not to those who still want to use it. Steve Jobs himself was quoted as saying that Flash is more times than not the reason a Mac or Safari crashes.

    I remembered today when I came across a R. Scoble article that I mentioned to Steffan (Antonas) that Flash is being killed. He was puzzled at that – but it's true. If Apple decides to not support a platform or program, there usually is a good reason (ie not on the iPhone OS.)

    Now I'm off to see how I can de-friction some of my own services.

Trackbacks

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by clayhebert: The most effective way to improve your business? Reduce friction. http://bit.ly/cKm1Fy

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily, clayhebert, Alex Grech, CoolerEmail, chriswaldron and others. chriswaldron said: Good points made by @clayhebert The most effective way to improve your business? Reduce friction. http://bit.ly/cKm1Fy […]

Speak Your Mind

*