Editor’s Note: This post about Creating Frictionless Customer Experiences was originally published on LinkedIn on Feb. 26, 2019.

We did it! We got registered for summer camps for our children.

Yesterday, my wife and I were driving around from community center to community center looking for the 2019 summer class catalog (the user experience on the web has much to be desired). This morning, my wife woke up early to be ready for when registration opened at 5:30 a.m. A half hour later, we were done. We think.  

Needless to say, but I will, the whole customer experience could have been 10x better.

What kind of friction points are you creating with your audience?

And my question to you is what kind of friction points are you creating with your audience?

The other day, I received an email telling me the content they wanted to share with me was on another platform – one that required me to log into it. No other context. No summary.

And probably for reasons unique to me, it is a major hassle to log into this platform via mobile. And so I didn’t.

And these are not isolated incidents that have happened in the last couple of weeks.

My son’s elementary school asks if I want their newsletter via hard copy or digital. I said digital. And what I get is a blank email with a pdf attachment. Not only is that a hassle having to open a second doc, but it is twice as hard when trying to do it on mobile.  

My wife texted me an Airbnb link about a potential spring break vacation spot in San Diego. I still haven’t seen it because Airbnb wants me to download their app. I did that, but then they wanted me to log in. If they were really worth a billion bucks, you’d think that user experience would have been figured out. I just need to see some pretty pictures.

The delay resulted in the our target dates being already booked. So, combined with a couple other factors, we’re not heading to south and instead going to put that money toward a used sailboat.  

And don’t get me started on newspapers and links they share via various platforms that when I click, I am assaulted with a nightmare of a paywall. I’m a former newspaper reporter. I believe in the importance of the press, but gosh, there has to be a better solution.

Why are we creating so many points of friction with audiences that actually want to engage with us?

Why are we creating so many points of friction with audiences that actually want to engage with us? And I do. In all these examples, we really wanted to engage with your product or service.

We often talk about eliminating friction points in your demand gen forms. The same rationale should hold for your interactions with your customers, whether internal or external.

Phil Bosley, CEO and founder of Tactical MA, reports that every additional field beyond three in your gated form results in half the conversions.

So, if 100 people would submit a form with three fields, then 50 will submit a form with four fields, and 25 with five fields, and so on and so forth.

Very often, what we’re asking for in information from our audience is not proportionate to what we’re offering in exchange.

Image quote about the importance of asking for only what you need in your gated forms

Friction is all around us.

Sometimes friction is good thing. It can prevent rash or irrational decisions that we’d later regret. And friction doesn’t mean everyone is happy. I may still have a problem with your product, but I shouldn’t be punished for asking you about it.

Unneeded frictions happen to us all quite often

Unfortunately, unneeded frictions happens to us all quite often. When we have to repeat our account info each time a customer service phone call gets passed to someone new. It’s being invited to a meeting where you are not needed, or the organizer is not prepared, or both. It is having to jump hurdles to unsubscribe to an email. It is selling someone a technology that then requires three months to get it installed and running.

And this is a problem for a few reasons.

  • Deliverability: For those friction-filled emails that you and I receive and delete, it can potentially hurt your email deliverability, as Google and the other email providers are proactively filtering emails you don’t engage with
  • Alternatives: In some cases, like summer camps, we have to muscle through it. But even in that case, we are ready switch if a viable alternative ever presents itself. And this is my anchor memory next election cycle when the parts department wants my vote for a some bond measure.
  • Engagement: Friction points add up and the more there are, the less engaged your audience will be with you. That could be customers who, by the sheer amount of self-inflicted friction you cause, are primed to leave. Or by a workforce that becomes less and less engaged.

How to Create Frictionless Customer Experiences

If you really are a customer-first organization then you should be putting in the time and money to eliminate friction points with your internal and external customers.

Image quote about the importance of removing friction points from your customer experiences

This could be as simple as asking new hires go through your marketing, sales, onboarding, and support processes and jot down the things that cause friction, whether because it doesn’t make sense, it is not intuitive, or its just a big hassle.

You can speed that up with a platform like UserTesting where you can get real people testing your platform, your marketing and more.

Whatever it costs, I am sure the ROI pays off later on, either in increasing conversions, speeding up conversions, or reducing churn.

Friction points add up. This week, start looking at all your points of contact with your audiences. Where you see friction, you may be able to find a quick fix. Where there is not a quick fix, you can begin planning a fix for the next product release.

Speaking of friction, most people watch Linkedin videos without the sound. That is why it’s critical to your success to include captions. In this week’s Rethink Markteting podcast, I chatted with Baird Hall, founder of Zubtitle and Wavve, two great products helping creators promote their work.