Every business has points of friction. Sometimes, that friction is a good thing as it slows people down and gives them a moment to consider their next action before plunging forward. But more often than not, friction gets in the way of the best possible business outcome.
When people experience these slowdowns, they often see them as being part of their normal experience. Whether it’s a cumbersome, multi-step process, a slow or confusing system or a process that often requires repetition, friction can stop people from being productive and frustrate customers, causing them to leave you and go to competitors.
In order to determine the cost of friction you need to take a dive into your business. That means talking to people and understanding their pain-points and frustrations. That can happen through one-on-one interviews, small workshops, process mapping activities and other initiatives. As issues are detected, you can look for ways to address them by putting yourself in the other party’s shoes.
For example, an MSP (Managed Service Provider) might provide self-service options for customers to purchase new services or upgrade existing ones. By creating a fictitious customer account, you can go through the same processes as your clients. By putting yourself in their shoes you can experience your systems in the same way they do.
This is what lies at the heart of user-centred design. You take the user’s perspective and look for ways to make their interaction or transaction as smooth as possible.
This approach also helps to overcome another challenge. Often, software engineers are engaged to create user interfaces. But while they are highly skilled at creating software that can execute a specific sequence of actions to generate a desirable output, they may not be best placed to do this in a frictionless way for users. A good example of this is when a paper-based system is translated to an online one. Data capture with a pen and paper is different to the process on a smartphone, tablet or computer. And each of those is different. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach will inevitably lead to friction and user dissatisfaction.
Perhaps the most critical place where friction can be an inhibitor to a business is during customer onboarding. An overly complex and difficult onboarding process will cost an MSP money even if the customer manages to navigate it. Every moment that a customer spends during onboarding is time they could be spending consuming your services and generating revenue for you.
There’s also an internal cost. If your staff are spending time navigating overly complex processes and systems, they will be less productive and spend time on tasks that don’t deliver maximum value to the business. They will also be frustrated which can turn into a bigger issue if the issues are severe enough to cause them to leave you.
Reducing friction is a three-step process.
Start by identifying the point of friction, the root cause and its impact on your business and the customer. Then plan how to remove the friction.
Removing the friction might mean mapping out a new process, make a change to systems, removing information silos or implementing new technology.
Once that’s done and the new processes and systems are in place, measure their effect. That can be a question of understanding how long a process took to execute before and after the changes you made, customer satisfaction, employee morale and retention or a reduction in complaints.
It may not be possible to remove all the friction in your business. But by looking for the sources, coming up with solutions and measuring their effectiveness you can increase revenues, improve staff morale and reduce customer complaints.
To learn more, you can download the Connectwise whitepaper on reducing friction in your business.