33. Frictionless Analytical Messaging
So we’ve established that you are the guide for your customer. You see a successful future state for them before they are able to. You see and create the path they need to take to get there. You clear away emotional friction so that their motivation is not squandered or misdirected. But you also must reduce analytical friction or your customer will never overcome their logical objections related to evaluating the data and evidence you provide.
The objective of your information architecture strategy is to maintain customer motivation and engagement, but it must also serve to cut through resistance and stay out of the customer’s way as they find answers to analytical questions.
In the early days of our company’s software business, Solspace struggled to deliver on consistent solutions for reducing analytical friction. Customers came to our site seeking plugin solutions for specific problems they had on their respective CMS's. All of our products were designed to be flexible and adaptable, so to ensure they were selecting the right product, customers often needed to verify that it would be capable of the specific task they had in mind. To do this, they logically looked for the appropriate product documentation to find the detailed answers they needed to support this analytical exercise. Our team had done a good job of clearing the customer path of emotional friction, but we ultimately found that we failed when it came to answering analytical questions. Our sales pages and documentation told only the most basic facts about the solutions we provided and laid out only the most typical paths to solving a family of problems.
Eventually, it became clear that we were not serving the analytical needs of our customers well enough and it was impacting sales. It makes sense. If there’s no way to verify you’re buying the right thing, you tend not to buy it. So the team began developing more detailed case studies, including a wider variety of successful solutions utilizing our products. We learned that in the case of some of our products, there were many more ways to utilize them than we’d considered, and therefore multiple paths to a happy future state for our customers. We had failed to define these additional states and map them out and failed to anticipate the associated factual and evidence-based questions. Once we cleared away all of this friction and frustration so customers could find what they were looking for, requests for support decreased while sales increased across all products. Providing both emotional and analytical support for our customers resulted in success for everyone.