At A Glance – Positive Friction

Points of reflection in the customer journey

When companies remove friction points from the customer journey, they get rid of any obstacles that prevent a consumer from easily completing their interaction with the organisation. Delivering a seamless customer experience – by getting rid of friction – is generally considered to be a business ideal. But can eliminating friction actually be bad for business?

By removing friction, companies want to minimise the effort that customers have to put in to an interaction to achieve their goals. Anything that takes too long, has too many steps, or overwhelms a user makes them more likely to disengage with the process – resulting in the loss of a sale or a drop in customer satisfaction. However, if the customer journey is too smooth, the interaction becomes mindless and automatic, and this isn’t good for the business either. It not only stops a customer from fully engaging with the company, but also removes the potential for them to discover further products they might be interested in.

To avoid this, businesses can introduce positive friction to their user experience workflows. This denotes points in a process which encourages the user to reflect on what they are doing. Positive friction can help to minimise errors – for example by asking the user to confirm that the task they are about to complete is really what they want to do. It can also help to promote mental health awareness.

Consider the digital bank Monzo, which aims to make it simpler for people to manage their money, by making the customer experience faster and more fluid. The company recognises that this also removes traditional safety barriers that many people rely on to restrict their spending. Monzo has therefore introduced positive friction points to its systems to give users greater control over their actions. Options include the ability to review late night spending, offering financial advice if income patterns divert from expected trends, and giving customers the chance to choose their preferred form of communication with the bank.

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