The Key to Technology Adoption: Make It Easy

Hey man, can you help me out with something?

Even cavemen need technologyI get many calls on a weekly basis asking for help on ‘how to configure this’ or ‘how to set up that’.  Sometimes they are quick calls and other times they can be pretty involved.  I try to avoid them since they can be a time suck however they are generally from good friends or colleagues that have helped me in the past and will continue to do so. One of the things I firmly believe in is “give to get” so it’s something that I do. Depending on the week, I can grow tired of it though.  So much of these conversations are redundant or things that I consider elementary knowledge that I assume everyone has.  Fortunately, I have a wife that keeps me grounded since she overhears so many of these conversations.  She is quick to remind me that everyone has their strengths and not everyone is a technophile or super nerd.  This helps.

Cisco servers are not for pubic consumptionIt helps remind me not to fault these folks for needing help with a product or service that is intended for the masses.  The blame has to be placed on the creator of the product or service.  It’s not fair to believe that you will have success with a product if you can’t make it clear to its consumers how the product works. For the same reason Cisco doesn’t care that I can’t use their enterprise products other companies should care a great deal if I can’t. Cisco doesn’t create these products with me in mind. They are for network engineers and CTOs –  not client facing management consultants.

Simple is Better

There are companies out there that do an excellent job of making things as simple as possible for their consumers. One product that I constantly say good things about is Dropbox. For those of you unfamiliar with Dropbox, it’s essentially a junk drawer for your files that follows you to all of the computers you work on – home, work, laptop, etc.  It’s a freemium product so you can use it at no cost and if you decide to get serious about it you can pay for more space. The best thing about Dropbox is that I have seen just about everyone from all walks of life use it and fall in love with it.  If you would like to try it, you can use my affiliate link here. I don’t get paid by them but I do get a little more space. No pressure. Smile

What makes this product great are two things: simplicity and ‘it just works’.  It’s automatic, reliable and stress-free. This is what people want.  Are there other cloud storage alternatives out there that could do a better job? Absolutely.  I use them myself for more demanding needs. I wouldn’t recommend them to the general populous though. Companies like Dropbox have mastered the art of “don’t make me think”.  There are others that get the art. Apple is one of the most notable.

When you walk into Verizon or AT&T and you want an iPhone, other than the size of the storage space or perhaps the color, you have one choice – the most recent model. You may be able to get an older one but not always. In any case, regardless of the model, you don’t really get a whole lot of customization here.  Why? Because people love it. Why? Some would say “it just works” and others would say “it’s simple”. There are other reasons people give but what they are really saying is, “I don’t have to think too much to use it”. Disagree if you will, but consider this for a moment and I may change your mind.

ANdroid is eating up Apple market shareiPhone offers less choice but still is able to be extremely successful

There are many other choices for a mobile phone out there, particularly with the Android operating system being open source. You’ve got HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and Sony-Ericsson making phones that run on this operation system – to name a few. The choices are vast and the customization is even more so.  Personally, I prefer the Android phones for this reason. I can get exactly what I want and really personalize the phone . Many feel this way, I suspect, since at the time of this post Android is the market leader in the U.S. for mobile device operating systems. The European numbers are growing at a staggering rate as well. So why am I talking about the number one when it’s not all that simple? Here’s the thing: the iPhone is still number 2 in the U.S. Why?

I joke around a lot about the whole Apple vs. Android thing but it’s just that, kidding. Realistically, there really isn’t any competition between the two platforms since their markets, IMO, are very different. If I were getting a new phone for me, it would be one of three new Droids that I have been wantonly salivating over. I won’t get into them, they will just distract you from what I am trying to say here. However, if I were going to get my mother-in-law a new phone it would be an iPhone. Why? First, I don’t think she could handle anything more. Second, I know she’d actually use it since it’s so simple. Lastly, it will minimize the number of phone calls of the ilk that I began this post talking about. Apple has this concept down to a science – Simple.

So what does that mean to your business?

It’s no secret that I am a fan of simple, easier and faster way of doing things. Consumer messaging and product development are no exception.

Well, first and foremost, you should make sure that everything you offer consumers – whether it be a product, service, communication, flyer, or business card – is kept simple. Make sure it’s intelligible to the your target audience. Sounds simple enough, I know. Where to begin? Here is a list of things you can do to help ensure this:

  • Research – make sure that there is a need for whatever you are offering. Fortunately, the internet and your regular interactions with others in business will make most of this apparent.
  • Initial Testing–  there are plenty of ways you can make sure that your product/service is indeed simple and not just simple to you.
    • Focus groups – this can save you A LOT of money in product development
    • A/B testing – this can help you narrow down critical choices between one feature or another
  • Beta users – a group of good beta testers could very well give you everything you want to know about the the adjustments you need to make – PRE-LAUNCH
  • User feedback – just because you have done ton of testing and put in countless hours of thought doesn’t mean you took everything into account. The best way to get to where you want to be is to get feedback from the public post-launch. Always solicit feedback from your target market. Using social media, surveys and just talking to people will show them that you are listening and that you care. You’d be surprised at the relationship you can develop with your customers and would-be customers.

The 10 CommandmentsI’m a big fan of products and services being organic in the sense that they are always a work in progress.  Google seems to perpetually have everything they do in beta and some folks criticize that. I don’t know; is that really a bad idea? There aren’t a ton of things in this world that don’t change. Why should your offering to your customers be any different? And isn’t THAT the best way to keep the adoption you have worked so hard to attain?

 

-PH

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About 

 
Patrick Healy is the founder of Phacient. He has spent the last 7+ years in real estate technology and data. He's is fascinated with decision making and efficiency. Patrick organizes the Lucky Strikers Social Media Club and RE BarCamp in New York City, likes to tinker with just about anything he can get his hands on and is quite the foodie.

  • Becky Boomsma

    Yes, excellent points, Patrick, and please underscore the beta-testing – extremely important. It’s surprising how many products are rolled out for a specfic user or target market without directly engaging them, either through focus group or beta testers. Beta testing should be used to find and fix the problems in the pre-launch, not just find them, roll the product out, and provide a patch or fix later. It’s important for companies to understand that the timely fix prior to launch is critical to gain and retain users and their confidence, especially within the target market, so that they are not turned off by half-baked products that they are commiting hard earned money and their time to, onloy to be frustrated by dysfunction. Word of mouth testimonials from satisfied, enthusiastic users will carry the lack-luster, under-developed marketing a long way, particularly with the positive exposure via social media and public forums. Your post here along with other tech bloggers, like @Mashable, @TechSavvyAgent, etc. can help new companies understand the importance of research, development, and e-commerce…the “e” standing for Engagement, at all levels. Thanks for the post and all you do for us! :D

  • http://www.phacient.com/?doing_wp_cron=1394516476.7269361019134521484375 PatrickHealy

    @Becky Boomsma You are too kind. Thank you so much for the humbling words. The inspiration for this came from trying to use a plugin last week where the documentation was terrible and out of date and there really wasn’t very much support. The irony was, there shouldn’t have to be for something like this. You should plug it in and it should just work.

    Making things hard on the public is only good if you plan on making it very easy for those that are paying customers. If not, then you have a problem. I have another post in the works about email marketing or lack thereof. I am having a really good run on inspiration for these posts. I fear it’s due to the economy.

  • Becky Boomsma

    Yes, excellent points, Patrick, and please underscore the beta-testing – extremely important. It’s surprising how many products are rolled out for a specfic user or target market without directly engaging them, either through focus group or beta testers. Beta testing should be used to find and fix the problems in the pre-launch, not just find them, roll the product out, and provide a patch or fix later. It’s important for companies to understand that the timely fix prior to launch is critical to gain and retain users and their confidence, especially within the target market, so that they are not turned off by half-baked products that they are commiting hard earned money and their time to, onloy to be frustrated by dysfunction. Word of mouth testimonials from satisfied, enthusiastic users will carry the lack-luster, under-developed marketing a long way, particularly with the positive exposure via social media and public forums. Your post here along with other tech bloggers, like @Mashable, @TechSavvyAgent, etc. can help new companies understand the importance of research, development, and e-commerce…the “e” standing for Engagement, at all levels. Thanks for the post and all you do for us! :D