Turning Friction into Connection: A Strategy for Language Schools

Consider the frictionless experience of ordering an item from Amazon. Now, imagine a high-end hotel like the Ritz Carlton offering a similar experience – a stay with no human interaction. While efficient, it would lack the memorable quality we associate with luxury.


This comparison brings to light an interesting business dichotomy: frictionless vs. immersive experiences. According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “What’s the Right Customer Experience for Your Brand?“, businesses reach a point where they must decide whether to focus on making their customer journey increasingly frictionless or increasingly memorable.


HBR categorizes businesses into four groups – Mass Market Brands, Convenience Brands, Boutique Brands, and Gravity Brands – each with a unique strategy for customer experience. Mass Market Brands like Amazon excel at delivering frictionless experiences, while Boutique Brands prioritize creating memorable experiences.


As a language school, we could be categorized as a Boutique Brand. We’ve chosen to create specific friction points to enhance connections with our students and parents.


For example, even in today’s digital world, we still use paper-based application forms. This allows our staff to initiate conversations based on what’s written, fostering connections with the students or their parents right from the start.


We’ve also consciously maintained human interaction in our online school management system. For instance, instead of automating makeup lesson requests, we handle them personally, providing us with another opportunity to maintain the personal bond with our students or parents.


While we use Line to send mass messages to students, we intentionally don’t receive messages via the platform. This decision again reinforces our belief in the value of direct communication.


That being said, we don’t favor friction everywhere. We require students to set up automatic bank deductions for fees, as this reduces unnecessary complexity.


The optimal level and type of friction will depend on each school’s goals. The key is that these friction points should be purposefully designed to serve a beneficial purpose.


What positive areas of friction do you have at your school?


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