All of us want the products we buy, services we consume, and experiences we crave to be effortless. We are all becoming accustomed to most things being easy, convenient, fast, efficient, and a good value.
While monopolies and oligopolies still exist, or at least seem to (is there really a great alternative to Microsoft, Facebook, or Amazon?), competition has raised the bar and set a new standard for how we think about everything in our lives.
One-click shopping, FedEx package tracking, Nordstrom or Costco no-hassle return policies, and cars on demand from Uber and Lyft are just a few of the frictionless services that have changed our lives and our expectations.
So what? Well, how do you feel when a retailer hassles you with a return that’s past 30 days or if you’ve lost your receipt. Or if it takes five steps to complete an online order. How do you feel when you have to push six buttons on your phone before you can speak to a human being. This is friction. And friction is bad in any relationship.
Have you ever measured the friction between your organization and your members? How many steps are there in the process to register for your annual event? The average is six steps for most associations. That’s a lot, especially when many of your members are also Amazon Prime customers—who believe one-step is the right number.
Why do I have to populate my information on a form if you know that I’m a member and you already have this data?
Why do I have to stand in line on-site and register for a conference if I can board a plane using a bar code I downloaded 24 hours in advance of my flight?
These are examples of friction. Friction causes heat. And heat produces fire. None of us want our members to feel the heat, or to be so hot they catch fire emotionally.
I’m aware of all of the reasons why eliminating friction is hard, and I’m reminded of JFK’s quote he delivered in 1962 at Rice University: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone…”
It may feel like removing friction from the processes in your organization is like going to the moon. The first step is to ask yourself, if I don’t do it, who will?