Have a friend with an Alexa-type device at home? Ever heard them say “Alexa off” and the streaming music instantly stops?
It’s not something you soon forget. The first time you hear a person talk OVER the music to tell an always-listening device to turn off the music, somehow separating the human’s voice from the music that’s filling the room it is nothing short of magical.
The reasons it’s magical are numerous:
it can distinguish music from speaking
it didn’t require extensive training
it localized the voice so the person could be throughout the room, not directly in front of the microphone
it happened instantly
it didn’t require 4 steps (waking over to the item, finding the right button or knob, turning it down, and then walking back to whatever you were previously doing)
“Alexa off” is one step. Anything else, on a percentage basis, is WAY more steps. That’s reducing friction. And once you’ve done it, there’s no going back. Getting up off the couch to manually change a TV channel seems downright barbaric to some people, yet it was the ONLY way to do it for many years.
Removing or reducing friction is not relegated to consumer technology. Amazon is also trying to reduce friction at retail establishments with high tech stores that account for shopping cart transactions without you having to scan anything or take out any payment device. And the company that coined (and patented) the single “one-click” button for buying online? That, too, is Amazon. They like removing friction. And they’ve been rewarded by the planet for it, allowing them to disrupt and destroy countless businesses whose legacy “we’ve always done it this way” mindset put them in the crosshairs of innovation and technology evolution.
Where’s the “Alexa off” in your business? Here’s an easy one: “charge my card on file” rather than making someone give you their payment info each time (note: PCI compliance may make this not worth doing).
What about scheduling an appointment? Apple gives YOU their calendar and you book yourself for an appointment. That avoids you having to call them and asking “when do you have openings?” – same with OpenTable, and myriad other tools that disintermediate or otherwise remove steps from convoluted processes. Smart sales people let you book calls on their Outlook that’s convenient for YOU. That removes friction.
Your business has friction, almost guaranteed. What is it? Getting a PO signed? Approved? Purchasing office supplies? Requesting a room reservation? What changes can you take right now to remove some of those extra steps?