April 15, 2021

Frictionless

My plan3 (pre-COVID) lands minutes before a severe thunderstorm absolutely pummels the area. I sat the storm out in a Culver's Restaurant (pork tenderloin sandwich and cheese curds), browsing Customer Development notes for the meeting I would have the next day.

This company had a beautiful lobby. Heck, everything was perfect. And for good reason. This company was (and still is) thriving. I was hired to solve a Customer Development problem, a problem that didn't exist. Annual repurchase rates were north of 70%. Customers loved the retail experience so much that online penetration was sub-standard. This company wanted me to help the move customers from a wonderful in-store experience to an online experience.

The Marketing Executive sits me down, and then approaches the grease board.

With effect, he pulls out a black grease board sharpie and writes one word.

"Frictionless".

For effect, he underlines the word a few times.

Frictionless.

There is a belief that if you just remove "friction" you'll convert customers and as a result you'll be great at Customer Development.

"Friction" becomes a math issue in Customer Development. Which customer would you prefer to have?

  1. A customer who visits your site six times in six days before purchasing.
  2. A customer who visits your site three times in six days before purchasing.
Hint - you don't care which customer you have, because both customers purchased.

One of the things we don't measure when creating a "frictionless" experience is incrementality. If you remove a step that makes it easier for the customer to purchase but doesn't cause an increase in the number of purchasers, your "frictionless" initiatives are pointless. You improved the customer experience, but you did nothing in terms of Customer Development.

Given the choice, always pick Customer Development over the Customer Experience. You can do a ton of things that don't add up to any incremental purchases.

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