A fraction too much friction will damage your business

A fraction too much friction will damage your business

I have just saved myself hours by eliminating a point of customer friction on my website. 

In addition to my weekly SmartCompany blog I have a fortnightly newsletter that I provide to subscribers. Knowing the importance of minimising effort and maximising reward for those seeking to join, I made the decision to seek only two types of input on the sign up screen; their first name so I can personally address them and their email.

The problem was the field for their name was labelled “Name”. As a result my subscribers weren’t clear on whether they should provide just a first name or their first and surnames. While this seems trivial, by not clearly labelling the field I had introduced an annoying point of friction for my potential clients because it forced them to consider “what does Bri need here?” 

The ramifications were twofold.

  • I’d shifted the subscriber from a focus on the value of the service to a focus on resolving a problem. 
  • I’d created a data problem at the back end that saw me having to manually strip out surnames so I could correctly address subscribers by first names only. Wasting 20 minutes every 2 weeks on a non-value adding (and irritating) activity have added up to hours of lost productivity over the course of a year.


Figure 1: My new newsletter sign up asks for “First” name

The fix was easy. My web designers changed the label to “First name” and I haven’t had any surnames submitted since.  Good for me but even better for my prospective subscribers.

Micro moments matter

As I written before, micro-moments – those fleeting moments where we ask our customer to take action – matter. While my example above did not put my business at risk, it did add friction where none was required.

Here are some website micro-moments that might be harming your business;

  • Forgetting to provide a Call to Action – so many web pages and EDMs forget to take the client to the next step
  • Providing too many Calls to Action – overwhelming your customer with multiple choices about what to do next will likely mean they do nothing
  • Not clarifying what a button does when it is clicked – button anxiety is real and it is up to you to let your customer know what happens next. “Submit” isn’t as good as “Get your free e-book now” for example.
  • Not providing trust cues – absence of testimonials or credentials about who you are, particularly on your home page
  • Promoting Social Media buttons in the wrong place – incorrect position (like the top right of your home page header) create a competing pathway and distraction for your site visitor

There’s significant upside for your business if you identify and resolve points of friction for your customer. Not only does it keep them moving forward, most changes can be done quickly and for low or no cost. Want help identifying what your points of friction may be? Get in touch.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.


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