Jan 16 · 6 min read
Removing friction to build better products
In the previous article, we talked about voice — the next wave of time-saving technology. Evolving around the thesis that the most successful startups over the last 3 years capitalize on our craving to get back the time we have to spend on the things we don’t want to do.
Voice technology being the three-way intersection of IoT (devices), AI (services), and UX (interactions). Resulting in a hands-free, frictionless way to use technology.
Point being that users demand convenient and low-effort experiences. Just a sleek design is not enough anymore.
Take a look around.
We are constantly searching for ways to decrease the time it takes to get shit done. From getting boiling water directly from the tap, booking a ride home, ordering food to find a place to spend the night. The notion is that processes can always be optimized, productivity can always be increased and life can always be made more convenient.
Our belief is that technology is the means to make life more convenient by decreasing the time to get shit done. Removing friction by building better digital products, faster.
That’s why we admire a company like Intersport who recognizes the growing need for digitalization to enhance the shopping experience. With more people buying goods online, Intersport believes that physical stores still play a key role in the whole customer experience.
Digitalize in-store tasks to give both the customers and store clerks a better experience. The result? Less friction.
Or a company like Alliander who initiates and unifies the discussion about the future of energy. Sustainable energy is the future if we want to conserve our planet. How do you align people in a municipality to communicate and form a decision on collective energy needs?
Alliander’s answer was an intuitive platform that allows people to make informed decisions on the future of their energy needs. The result? Less friction.
Friction is the difference between the way things are and the way they should be.
We all have an innate desire for improvement.
Brands that fight friction empower. Not just disrupt.
Removing friction provides a path forward. It creates a system for embracing transparency, engaging audiences, building armies of evangelists and unleashing unprecedented growth. It is the modern and long-term way to build passion brands.
Not merely to entertain, but to bring value and meaningful experiences in their lives.
Removing friction can be as simple as helping people cook a better meal, listen to their favorite music, pay for a parking spot or have better control over their finances. Fighting friction is about relationship building. It’s about brands authentically finding a place in their customers’ lives.
Removing friction shifts brands from transactional to emotional.
Transactional brands offer the right product at the right price at the right time. People pay a fair price, they are not particularly loyal, and the relationship is completely rational.
Emotional brands, on the other hand, create irrational relationships — in the most positive way. They generate irrational enthusiasm. They charge irrational prices. They have customers who ignore the competition. They have evangelists who wear their clothing, write online reviews and impassioned conversations around the dinner table.
As in economics, friction can be categorized into macro and micro.
Macro friction sits at the category level. It’s the gap between the way things are and the way they should be in an entire industry. Removing it helps people become a better version of themselves. Removing macro friction creates an emotional connection to a brand.
Micro-friction sits at the brand level. It’s the difference between the way things are and the way things should be in how brands sell and support products. It’s anything that impacts someone’s ability to purchase or use a product.
Removing micro-friction creates a rational connection to a brand.
To understand the importance of technology to fight friction on both macro and micro level, let’s look at Uber since it’s a brand most of us use and understand.
The macro friction is that millions of people need a more convenient tool for short-range travel. So they created a safe, easy reliable way for people to get a ride. A straightforward simple app allows both drivers and riders to meet demand and supply.
That’s what removes macro friction.
Having tackled the first part of the equation, the micro-friction aspects of the experience are equally important. It only requires one click to provide your point of destination, it’s okay to leave your wallet at home because Uber has already taken care of the payment process. At the top of Uber’s geniality is that both drivers and riders are nice to each other because they are policed by the five-star rating. It’s the granular micro-friction fighting tactics that make it such an appealing experience.
That’s the power of removing both macro and micro-friction.
Remove friction by making products easier to purchase and use.
Consumers have too many options to have patience with a bad brand relationship. If something is not to their liking, they can quickly shift to a different brand or merchant.
It only requires one simple click for users to abandon a brand and less than a minute at the keyboard to bitch about their experience to millions of others.
Removing either macro or micro-friction will make a good brand. Removing both creates a passion brand, one with a user base that is not only loyal but actively advocates.
It doesn’t work to fight one without the other, because each depends on the other.
Removing macro friction without addressing micro friction will make the brand seem inauthentic. Removing micro friction without addressing macro friction will fail to make an emotional connection.
People are bombarded with brand messages every moment they’re awake. Decisions are made in seconds. People read social posts instead of books. All this has changed the way brands function.
Human beings are not patient. They don’t need to be. There are too many start-ups that focus on removing friction through digital tools. There are too many competitors in any category.
Removing macro and micro friction is not only about creating a passion brand, it is critical for survival.