January 8, 2015

Frictionless Clover

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I had this moment of inspiration the other day that is going to drive Clover’s approach to Customer interaction in 2015 and beyond. We are going to try to get rid of friction. This is the year of the Clover Maglev.

I believe strongly that you can’t build something great without saying no and making trade-offs. And up ’til now I’ve thought of many of our customer decisions as trade-offs that support our larger goals. For example, some customers get upset when they can’t find a bathroom because we don’t have signage. Upside for us? We force people to actually talk to one another, something that I believe in a small way fosters community. So we’re trading off the clarity of navigation for additional interaction. There are thousands of other tiny things like this. No paper towels in the bathroom means less waste and labor (yeah!), but it also means some customers feel upset.

Up until the other week I thought I was doing the right thing with these decisions.

But then I started thinking of it differently. I’m afraid these miniature conflicts, some of which only impact our subconscious, are a drag on our mission to get close to our customers. I’m thinking of these little things as I think of friction. Friction is the result of many many tiny interactions between and object and its surrounding. These little interactions wouldn’t even be measurable one at a time, but together they create a very real drag. Friction turns your deliberate energy (e.g, moving a wheel) into waste (heat). And so when mechanical engineers are designing things meant to move they work hard to limit the friction.

I think Clover needs to focus our energies on removing friction from our store experience. I think we need to do this because I believe it’s limiting our potential to create meaningful relationships with folks who come in the door. We have these incredible successes, and such great friends as a result. But I think to date those relationships have been built despite the friction in our environment. I think we’ll be much better frictionless.

Have you had a small moment of “friction” at Clover that we could learn from?

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