‘Every little bit of friction is another subscriber lost’

One of the newish marketing buzzwords is “social proof”, which describes the phenomenon – amplified by social media channels – of your customers and audience acting as your evangelists (or naysayers) and thereby affecting the purchasing decisions of their circles of influence.

My twin focus on “reducing friction” and “creating delight” reflects in part the reality that communities are about how people feel – and the truth is that people are much more likely to tell everyone about negative or frustrating experiences than they are likely to share merely good ones. So to really get people talking about you, you have to deliver consistently awesome experiences.

Because when you don’t, people will complain. And rightly.

And once you absorb the criticism and overlook the WWIC-refrain of “how hard can it be?!” (standard operating procedure), you are struck by the obviousness of these suggestions. You may know that these are on our roadmap, on the backlog, being discussed (and that despite the obviousness, they’re actually non-trivial to do well). But if you do know that it’s likely because you’ve been in these discussions, or are one of the product managers working on these types of projects. Our external audiences, our communities, our potential evangelists and frequent critics – they have no idea. Either of the fact that we’re working on these things, or that they’re not easy to do.

It might seem unfair, this criticism – and we are fortunate that this particular disgruntled customer went for the rant-via-direct-email than full-on-Twitter-takedown. But what’s telling is that he took the time to write this email, to make those suggestions. You complain when you are disappointed, when you expected better, when you feel that the other party should have done better. But you only take the time to make suggestions, to give feedback, when you actually care.

We don’t know how many people we’ve lost through friction like this, because few are them are motivated enough to be explicit about their reasons.

But the ones who care enough to tell us – we can win them back. The next level us is to deserve them.


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