If we take the music industry as an example: Their business model in the 20th century was fairly straightforward – produce music and then tightly control and regulate its distribution. If you wanted to own a song you had to wait for it to be available on CD and then go a music shop and buy the whole CD just so you could own that one song. That’s a lot of friction, barriers that slow you down in getting what you want.
15 years ago the music industry went through tumultuous change when a teenager by the name of Shawn Fanning started a service called Napster that allowed people all over the world to connect to each other and share their music libraries. Almost overnight the friction involved in owning music was removed.
The music industry went to war! They took on individuals and they took on Napster. They won the battle against Napster since it ceased to exist a few years later but ultimately they lost the war. The music industry was forever changed. We know this when we see the size and success of iTunes and similar services.
Friction today is anything that makes it difficult or slows down your customer’s interaction with your business. And today when we talk about a business “going social” we don’t just mean putting up a Facebook page or getting a Twitter account. We mean changing the way you perceive the relationship with your customers. What are you doing that gets in the way of your customer interacting (buying) with you?
Some examples of friction:
- Sending an automated reply to email inquiries that says “We will endeavour to get back to you within 72 hours” tells your customer that you’re too busy for them. They will go elsewhere because they have abundant choice. Why wait for you to be ready for them?
- Sending a potential customer a 128 page PDF catalogue in which they struggle to find what they want.
- Are your contact details easily accessible on your website? Or does your customer have to wade through 3 levels of menu options to find a phone number or email address for you?
- Is your website mobile ready? Can I comfortably and easily view your site from a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). This is becoming the preferred method of browsing websites so you have to available on these devices.
- Having a presence on a social platform such as Twitter but not responding to people who tweet you!
These are just some examples and there are many more. If you want your business to be relevant and available to your customer then you need to be social. If you are going to be social you need to find and remove the friction.
Get your senior team together, or if feasible, everyone. Break into smaller and manageable groups. Ask yourselves these questions:
- What is the technology that is disrupting our industry? Do we understand that technology?
Like the music industry 15 years ago your industry, whatever it is, is being transformed by technology. Do you know what it is and do you understand it?
- What is being tolerated?
“Well, that’s how we do things around here” is often said when we have to comply with a policy or procedure that we don’t understand. Yet we know it’s stupid but we just carry on doing it. We’re not even sure why we started doing it that way.
- What is wasting time?
Perhaps your senior team is spending the whole of Friday doing reports. Are they necessary? Is it just wasting time? What else are we doing that wastes time?
- Is there an easier way?
With technology today there is always an easier way. Find it.
- What problem are we solving?
Policy and procedure is put in place to solve a problem. With change perhaps the problem you’re trying to solve doesn’t even exist anymore yet your still doing the things to solve it.
- How do we build trust?
Brand and businesses have to get over the idea that they can control what is said and done with their brand. Social Media has put paid to that forever. The new control is trust. If you are open, honest, transparent your customers will trust you and if they trust you, you will establish some level of control. So everything you do should be in the direction of building trust.
By answering these questions honestly and making it safe for everyone to contribute honestly you will find the areas of friction that are slowing you down, that are getting in the way. Now you can work to eliminate that friction and win!