You will perhaps remember my last post on this subject a few weeks back. We have made some updates to the model from inputs we received from all of you. The idea is to tweak it to perfection. We also have now figured that there are essentially 3 stages to the whole engagement lifecycle. The first Stage we are labeling the Acquisition Stage it includes Step 1 – Research, Step – 2 Buy & Step 7 -Advocacy and Sharing. The Second Stage would be Usage Stage – where you are in Step 3 – Learn and Step 4 – Use. The Third Stage would be Managing Stage including Step 5 – Maintain and Step 6 – Manage. Take a look at the new graphic below.
We have some new elements being contributed. Between Research and just before we Buy there is the short state of Conviction. Between Learn and Use there is the additional process of Migration – from your old device to the new. Be it your SmartPhone or your Microwave our research shows that the first thing that we do is to map our existing activities and usage patterns onto the new device to ensure minimum disruption to our everyday life. Migration is not the same as Personalisation although it is very close. Personalisation is where we tweak the available settings to our liking, like setting of the wallpaper or the ringtones, migration is getting old settings and data onto our new device in case of the phone. For the Microwave it would be figuring the settings often used in the last machine. It is surprising how different the simple Quick Start buttons can be. In their locations, in their settings (some are pre programmed for 30 mins and some to 1 min, some are customisable). So when you get your new Microwave you get to start from there.
As it is evident from the panels above there is no standard location or definition (in the above panels Quick Start is mentioned as Quick Min, One min +, Quick Start and Start+30secs).
More on the design of everyday technology products and services later. For now tell us if we are missing something in our Personal Technology Engagement Lifecycle model.
We are counting upon you to make Showhow2 your personal space to deal with personal technology.
I am a subscriber of Microsoft Office 365 home edition (₹420 monthly in India) through which I got myself a full version of office 2013 with all the tools (no cripple ware) and 20 Gigs of OneDrive (previously known as SkyDrive) space along with the ability to install into 5 different PCs or MACs and 5 different smartphones or tablets (Android, iOS or Windows Phone). It also comes with the promise of upgrading into later versions of office automatically without paying more.
The service worked fine for me until today – the day when Office decided to pull its disappearing act on me!
Like any other usual Saturday, I was preparing for a weekly meeting. When I clicked on one of my excel files, it gave me an error – “application not found”. When I tried launching Excel from the Start screen, it gave me a message to the effect that – application is not available anymore and whether I would like to delete the shortcut or not. As I started investigating, I figured that Office 2013 has completely uninstalled from my system. I worked on it the previous night and now it was completely gone. I know for sure that no one else touches my comp and that I haven’t uninstalled it by myself for sure. My first suspicion was that it could be a virus or malware that got into the system and has deleted the software. But a scan of my computer revealed nothing. Then I remembered that my Windows operating system updated last night. As I checked, I found that the last update session has somehow deleted/uninstalled my whole office setup. And with that, Microsoft has managed to put up this show of disappearing of Microsoft Office 2013.
With that, the process of bringing back Office begun. In itself it is quite straight forward. I had to log in into my Office 365 account, downloaded the installer and ran it again. Office installer downloads all the files off the internet and installed Office once more on my system.
With that, the show ended after running for a couple of hours, first ruining and then sort of making my day. All in all I could do without it.
What are your experiences of sudden hijacking of your life by your technology services? Talk to us.
It’s like learning to drive. Aligning with everyday technology is a no brainer.
The fact is we spend more time with technology products and services every day than with anything else. Whether it is your alarm clock that is designed to run away on wheels or your interactive Smart TV, your smartphone – which according to a report you are checking at least 150 times a day or your Kindle paperwhite you are reading on before going off to sleep it is undeniable that we spend a lot of both money and time with gadgets, apps and websites. Why would you then not get the most out of it? You did head advice and corrected your driving to get more miles per gallon. You spend time with an investment advisor to get more out of your money. You go for summer courses to upgrade your professional profile. You invest time where ever it can make your life easier or better. Then why not everyday technology? What I figured from many conversations that I continue to have with people is that the perception is that everyday technology is supposed to be easy. We believe we can go about using them without any requirement to invest time or learning. The data from multiple research is showing something else though. Products have become extremely complex as more features are added and accommodated in a small area. Engineers in their rush to add that last wish market research threw up, ignore the basic flow of usage or in the quest to present an apparent simplicity hide away functionalities behind multiple layers, pushes and clicks. Like the safe with a rotary dial where you turn the dial anti clockwise, then push the dial, then turn it on the other direction, match it to a number and this time push twice quickly, turn it anti clockwise again and push the dial three times but this time slower than the last time….you get the drift.
There is absolutely no doubt that every day technology products and services can actually make our life better, our jobs more productive and keep us more informed and entertained. It will be wise to invest some time to get the hang of stuff we buy or own and get the most out of it. After all, you would go to a driving school and learn to drive when you plan to buy a car. Why should it be any different for technology?
While companies debate the LTV of a customer most do surprisingly little to hold on to them!
There is nothing new in the calculations as they have been done to death. You spend more money to acquire a new customer vis a vis retaining an existing customer. So how come most companies make it so difficult for people who paid up to stick to them? What is going on?
The belief within companies is that create a product and pour resources to move them (to your homes) in exchange for money. Technology has made products more reliable and companies hope (and pray) that they do not break down. If they do, After Sales Service, is pressed into action – a separate profit center. Yes people do abuse machines and do not take care of them. But what is the companies role in educating the customer about the Do’s and Dont’s? As it turns out the badly written and printed manual comes in right about here. However the legal team found a way to get the most out of this piece of expense. Cram it with warnings and legalese so that it can save the company in case some one burned down the house with his toaster! Printed manuals are more relevant for saving the company legal hassle than helping users with the product. So you know why it still exists!
This does not answer the question – Why do companies do this? I was once speaking with the head of the Eco range of products of a multinational (Japanese) brand which is into a wide range of electronics and he was showing me some of the new eco friendly products they had developed. The washing machine that recycled water for the rinsing cycle, the small footprint Camcorder for reducing the carbon foot print of shipping (the idea is to ship more products in the same place reducing the CO2 footprint per product), very low consumption lights and many more of such brilliant ideas. The company is focused on the eco issues and is building genuinely differentiated products and technology. So I asked him if these products shipped with a manual? Yes of course – each product carried a 6 language 200-page manual. Printed with ink – that required chemicals to produce, on paper that required to cut down trees some place and more chemicals to produce, use electricity – that does not come free – mostly from burning fossil fuel, and shipped themselves from some place in China (CO2 footprint anyone?) to Japan. When I pointed this out to him – this anomaly in the chain of thoughts – he looked past me. Deep in thought.
So what happened? Nothing to be precise. We have worked with another Japanese Printer manufacturer who saw value in what we were doing at Showhow2 and engaged us to create a Showhow2 for one of their printers. The project was completed in about 6 weeks. It took them over a year to put it on their website. Such complicated were their internal processes.
The point I am trying to make is this. While selling the product is clearly the goal, what people did with the product and the impact of such an attitude typically reflects in the company loosing its position in the market place. History of companies are strewn with such instances. While companies should ensure that their product literature in inviting they should realize that is essentially the first step in a very long journey. And each customer is the pillar on which the long term success of the company rests.
Do you have any example of Sexy sales lit and drab unhelpful user manuals? Tell us about it.
Like most critical things in life we believe our ability to consume technology should come naturally to us. Nothing is further from the reality!
As we pick up a new phone or a microwave or even the latest thermostat, we believe or are made to believe that our ability to use it should come naturally to us. Indeed UX designers and engineers are employed so that they can make things simple to use, so as to help us derive maximum benefits and value out of a product or service. A lot of these we get used to. Some design led nudges do help us cope with technology better. However if you get to read the book The Complexity Avalanche, By J B Woods, President of TSIA you will see the impact complexity in products are having on our ability to consume technology products and services. This is the question he launches the book preface with – “Ask yourself a question – What is the percentage of all the features of all the technology in the world that are actually being used today?” He goes on to refer to a survey conducted by British telecom in 2008 which showed that 71% Britons have up to 10 gadgets lying idly around the home, as they find them too hard to use. Look at the diagram below for some idea of what I am talking about. This is from the same book.
“ Perfectly constructed, astonishingly fast and utterly besotted with technology, the big, gracious 7-series had but two flaws: The first was something called iDrive, a rotary dial/joystick controller situated on the center console, through which drivers adjusted dozens of vehicle settings, from climate, navigation and audio functions to things like the sound of the door chime. The reason for iDrive and similar systems is that designers were running out of room for switches and instruments. The trouble was that the iDrive was hard to work. Damn near impossible, in fact. Drivers spent many hair-pulling minutes driving to figure out how to add radio presets, for example, or turn up the air conditioning. When confronted with complaints, BMW engineers said, with barely disguised contempt: Ze system werks pervectly. Dis is no problem.”
Sounds Familiar? Share your stories of your own “iDrive” moment. And we will over the next several weeks arrive at a way to measure the Complexity Quotient for every product – physical and otherwise – in the market.
How understanding our own engagement with Gadgets will ensure we get the most out of them as we spend most of our day interacting with one gadget or another. Starting with the Alarm clock and ending with the Kindle.
To take a stab at the Complexity Quotient in every day technology we wanted to understand the process of our relationship with a piece of technology or gadget. Take a look at this 7 Step Gadget Engagement Lifecycle Model we have developed.
The idea behind the model is to understand our engagement with a particular gadget – from the point it comes into our conscious consideration for information to our purchase, use, managing and finally buying a replacement. Throughout this process of gathering information, influences, purchasing, understanding, using, learning, managing various aspects of our gadget and finally promoting or demoting it to our social circle – there are various factors we happen to take into account. Or act upon. The 7 Step Model above tries to capture all of these stages and influencers in a single comprehensive and seamless model – because that is how it works in real life.
You can well imagine the complexity of this process when you superimpose it on multiple gadgets with varied lifespans coming in and out of our lives at various points in time, expecting us to manage all of these at all times. Its like playing baseball with one bat but with multiple throwers coming at you at random intervals or together. Not to mention the new product that totally captures your imagination and forces itself into your life only to add another layer of totally unknown complexity and forced adaptation. On top of that add the problem of language. Most content around gadgets are evidently generated in English. That leaves out all the non English speaking users who will all use the same gadget with little outside assistance.
Of course the first thing we needed to figure is if anyone is already taking care of all these phases for the end consumer in a single comprehensive offering. Our extensive search yielded no result. There were companies and websites or services that took care of one or two of the 7 steps but none allowed or attempted to be a comprehensive gadget management service. So the user had to do his research separately from the purchase process. Learning was at a different site or with limited physical material. Using the gadget and everyday trouble shooting was again at a separate destination – mostly at the Manufacturers site or a few dedicated sites incase it happened to be an extremely successful product like the iPod. If you were searching for how to use your new Nose and ear trimmer or Epilator- Good luck! Managing or maintaining had to be done at another site or location. On top of this, in many cases the services were complex in themselves. When we put together all the data it was quite simple – there is no place to go for a comprehensive management of your Gadget or technology usage.
Let us know what you think about this line of thinking and if we have missed out on anything. We will next figure what are the services you can use today for each of the stages above. And how well they are serving their segment. That’s in a few days.