Joey Greenwald
May 14, 2024

‘We All Hate Friction’ – Insights from Digital Leaders

Maybe, just maybe, the reason we like to talk about password friction so much is because we hate it. So much

We’ve recently been attending a number of retail & technology events (most recently Shoptalk, Adobe Summit & eTail East) and our conversations with digital leaders have been eye-opening.

We weren’t necessarily surprised by what we heard from the digital leaders we met with, who spanned a range of industries. But it did shift our thinking, as many good business conversations do. Especially when it comes to how friction from traditional sign-up and sign-in negatively impacts a wide range of digital experiences.  

Here are three takeaways from our recent conversations:  

1. Friction is more than just a commerce blocker

For years, we’ve been helping digital leaders take aim at the friction caused by passwords. Typically the focus is on reducing friction to drive additional revenue. But recently, we were reminded that friction isn’t just about sales. 

Our digital lives and physical lives are becoming harder to delineate — as more of our time and daily activities have a digital element. Friction affects how we gather information, how we consume entertainment, how we manage our financial accounts, and even how we engage with our healthcare providers.

We met digital leaders who work for banks, insurance companies, healthcare providers, biotech leaders, consulting service providers, and education companies — and they all shared a common desire: 

“To reduce friction so that their customers can successfully accomplish what they’re aiming to accomplish.”

While reducing friction in e-commerce can lead to a very tangible and immediate ROI — increased revenue — all of the leaders we met with could see clear benefits to passwordless technology. For some, reducing friction means reducing support cost. Or increasing customer satisfaction. Or improving NPS (Net Promoter Score). For others, reducing friction is a means to an always-important long-term metric: improving customer lifetime value (CLV). 

2. Too many front doors is its own friction

Many of us digital denizens have experienced this friction: We try to log back into a service provider and get an error. At some point, we actually realize that the issue isn’t that we forgot our password. Even though we’re on the right company’s site, we’re trying to log into the wrong portal. 

Users must not only remember their username/password, but also know which website (a.k.a. “digital front door”) to log into. 

Various companies we’ve talked to recently are facing this customer experience problem, and they know it’s hurting them. Hits to NPS score, customer service tickets, abandonment and churn. 

Many enterprises are trying to consolidate all of their login options into one unified login experience. Users will sign into one place, then based on who they are, they will automatically get routed to the correct service. One front door. No friction.    

3. Trying to modernize old authentication tech is also friction

A couple of the companies we met with had already started a journey to shift away from the old way of password-based authentication. They were in the process of implementing biometric login & registration (passkeys) within their existing tech stack. But they ran into two different kinds of friction. 

First, their developers found it incredibly difficult to build their own passwordless solution with their existing technology. A notable social media company’s rep told us it took a team of developers six months to build a basic passwordless proof-of-concept. And he said that it would take another 18 months to develop the complete solution. 

The second issue these companies face is that if it isn’t implemented right, there is simply too much user friction to gain mainstream adoption. As an example, it recently took me about five different steps to add a passkey to my existing Google account and enable TouchID for just one device. You can bet that this up-front friction dramatically reduces the number of users — just as any multi-step online funnel loses conversions at each step.  

Want to do something about friction? 

So, about friction
. We love talking about it because we hate it. But even better than talking about it is doing something about it. If you’d like to explore how passkeys and passwordless technology can improve your digital user experience — and take dead aim at frictionwe’d love to talk.

Joey Greenwald is a seasoned GTM professional with over 15 years of experience in B2B SaaS and enterprise technology. He is now the VP of Marketing at OwnID, helping enterprise eCommerce companies and Fortune 500s deploy next generation Customer Identity and Digital Commerce technology solutions.