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Friction kills the customer experience

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Merriam-Webster defines the word “friction” in three ways:

1.    The act of rubbing one thing against another;

2.    The force that causes a moving object to slow down when it is touching another object; and

3.    The disagreement or tension between people or groups of people.

If you tie the concept of friction to the concept of customer service, none of these definitions is good.

Looking at it from another angle, the opposite of friction is agreement, peace and harmony. Most of us would agree that we would like a customer experience without friction. 

Customers hate friction in business. Unfortunately, it happens to us quite often, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. It happens when we’re put on hold and transferred to someone else or when we have to repeat our complaint or problem to numerous customer service reps before receiving help.

Sometimes you can substitute the word easy for convenient, like a bank that has extended hours so people who work during the day can do their banking on their way home or on a Saturday. These are examples of easy, frictionless ways to do business.

So, what are the points of friction in your business? Or put another way, where do you find yourself rubbing up against your customer, slowing down progress or receiving complaints or disagreements? What customers want is a customer service experience that is easy—without hassles, problems or friction.

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Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email [email protected] or go to


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