Frictionless Experiences (#1 from Experience Blog series)

I spent last week in what proved to be an epic “Adobe Summit” conference, the first one I’ve personally attended.  And although I walked away with several key takeaways, Adobe’s claim that the future of business hinges on the “Experience” seemed to be the big one.

If you look at some of the world’s fastest growing companies- they’re no longer as focused on the people, resources, inventory or products.  At its core, eBay is a garage sale.  Uber is hitchhiking.  AirBnB is staying at someone else’s pad.  Many of them don’t have the employees or inventory that traditional companies used to have.  But what makes eBay, Uber and AirBnB so incredible are the game-changing app and website experiences they create for their customers.  How quickly we’ve come to rely on these experiences.. how could we live without Uber?

In the 1st post in my Experience Blog series, I want to call out the ‘frictionless’ nature of the Uber experience in particular.  I took both taxis and Ubers in Vegas, and wow- what a difference.  The taxi experience is old school.  It’s choppy, clunky, slow and manual.  I had to wait in a long line at the airport to get my taxi, and then instruct the taxi driver where to go.  The most inconvenient aspect of the experience was the payment.  The cab driver was savvy enough to suggest that I start the process before I arrived at my hotel, but it still took 2-3 minutes to swipe my credit card, enter the pin, choose the tip amount, process, and then have my cab driver grab the receipt from a separate device in the front seat.  So what does this mean to me?  This antiquated, slow process means that I have less time to work during the drive, spend time catching with my family or take advantage of some much needed relaxation.  It is more prone to potential errors, given all the manual steps.  And I forgot to mention that while I was waiting to have my credit card processed, my taxi driver was in the middle lane of the hotel dropoff, which put me in a pretty awkward, unsafe position to get out of the car.

Now let’s shift to the frictionless Uber experience.  I pulled up the Uber app on my phone, selected my destination, (pre-selected) payment method, meeting spot -> and my job is done.  The rest of the responsibility now falls on Uber and the driver.  I wait for the driver, pop in the car- and I’m free to do what I need to do.  There’s a feeling of freedom within the experience.  I would call it a ‘lighter’ experience.  The bags are in the trunk, and I have nothing to worry about.  There’s nothing in between me and getting to my destination. In a working world where we’re slammed with back-to-back meetings and conference calls, it’s a luxury to get some free time in the back of an Uber with not a worry in the world.  No payment, tip, credit card, waiting, nothing.  Just arrive at your destination, open the door and you’re there.

Now I get it- I know my complaints are totally 1st World problems,.  If these are my biggest problems I have to worry about- then life’s not so bad.  But from a business perspective- the purpose of technology is to drive better efficiencies, and the move from friction to frictionless experiences is doing just that.

So to put it back on you…  how can you create your frictionless, Uber-like experience for your customers???

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