Tackle one pain point at a time to remove inter-departmental and customer-facing friction points.
Friction is the resistance of motion between two moving objects. In the context of business, it’s anything that keeps progress, change, or growth from happening. Friction points impact companies internally and externally, and it can stunt growth, so it’s critical to identify and remove them as soon as possible.
Friction Wears Out Systems
Picture yourself in a car driving down the road. Your right foot is on the gas pedal, and the other is on the brake. That friction is going to wear out your car, right? This same thing happens to people and systems within a business. Unfortunately, friction doesn’t just live inside an organization. It can spill over, affecting and impacting your customers.
When asked about friction points within their organization, most people think of incomplete or poorly executed processes both inside a department and company-wide. It also often includes either poor communication or a lack thereof. The bottom line is that friction points slow down business, waste time, misuse energy, and result in lost revenue.
Friction points are tricky because you may not always notice them — it’s those that fly under the radar that can wreak the most havoc, but they’re also the most common. They often have layers. It’s not one friction point; it’s layers of them. And you have to identify and uncover each individually in order to deal with the root issue or pain point.
Ignored Pain Points Become Deadly Tolerations
One business owner calls friction points “tolerations” — things that you tolerate over time. They’re the pain points that no one’s taken the time to address or remove, so they're being tolerated.
When your business is growing, pain points will pop up that didn’t exist before. When you’re growing quickly and trying to keep up, it’s easy to tolerate these things. Maybe processes aren’t being defined well enough, or they're not working. Maybe things that were once done manually need to be automated. The first step is stopping long enough to identify what's failing, then taking the time to trace it back to its origin.
Why Pain Points and Tolerations Aren’t Fixed
Business owners and employees don't battle pain points because the work required to identify the root problem and create possible solutions can be overwhelming and scary. Most of us cringe to think of the risk and unpredictability involved. Time and money need to be invested in identifying pain points and developing solutions to remove friction points. Because nobody wants to fail or waste assets, we often play on the safe side and stick with what's known, namely what we're already doing.
But look at it like this — either way, time and money are being lost. Anytime there's a pain point, there's going to be inefficiencies, and inefficiencies cost money. Fixing pain points reduces friction, allowing you to find more time, energy, and money. And in doing so, you're creating a better experience. Turn frustrated employees that feel stuck into excited ambassadors who believe you care about improving their experience and the company's environment. Make customers ecstatic about their buying experience, so they spread the word and keep coming back.
It’s time to reclaim the money that's just being squandered by inefficiencies. Get maximum output for your input. Take the time and energy needed to free up resources so that you can reinvest back into your business — then continue fixing other pain points and eliminating friction.
Where to Go from Here
Let's say you're willing to do what it takes to identify and address the pain points producing friction in your company. Now what? Where does one start the process? Here are a few things to consider.
- Brainstorm. Make a list of all of the pain points that you can. Think of internal and external friction points. Consider your customers. If there's something that is affecting the sales process or customer retention, list those. Ask yourself: what jobs or tasks does nobody want to do? Give yourself a safe place and a dedicated time to brainstorm alone as well as with your team.
- Prioritize. Look at your list and determine which make sense to fix first. Don't tackle the biggest thing first. Start with something small but impactful. If it's a relatively easy fix, consider working through one of the things that you've been tolerating for a while. For example, if a paint point is getting emails out the door in a timely fashion, consider using automation technology. There are always things to automate. Take a look at some of your manual processes and determine which ones can easily be automated. This is not to say you shouldn't tackle the harder, more complicated things on your list, but starting with the easier items that have a high impact will move you in the right direction.
- Set goals and analyze. Once you've identified your pain points and settled on your priorities, develop solutions, analyze the results, and make adjustments as needed. Think in terms of cost, effort, and impact. Are your solutions creating a better experience? Do they help sales and customer retention? If you're not checking off any boxes, you might need to make some tweaks. You heard the saying, "there are nine ways to skin a cat" — there are also nine ways to fix a problem. Come up with a list of ideas, then reduce them to the best options. Work toward a solution with the best cost, effort, and impact ratio. Remember, you're not building a castle. You're just trying to make sure that you don't face those same pain points again as you continue growing.
Eliminate Friction & Systemize for Growth
As your business grows, things will change. Departments will change. The way departments talk to each other will change. There might even be a new department that needs to be created. Pain points will emerge, and friction will be felt. It's the nature of growth.
BUT you can uncover and fix pain points and the friction associated with them. Stop tolerating and start working toward solutions one step at a time.
You can tackle it yourself or partner with experts like TANK New Media. Through our proprietary TRACTION process, we can help you identify the most costly and frustrating marketing, sales, and customer service friction points. With that key information, we'll create a comprehensive strategy with a clear course of action that will address your friction points so that you're positioned to grow without unnecessary obstacles. You can start by exploring Our Services or by contacting our team with your questions.
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