Training is the Key to Desirable Software
co-authored by Bill Cushard (@billcush)
Imagine your customer staring blankly at the computer screen. At your software application. His eyes are darting back and forth between icons, thinking to himself, "Now, which feature was it that allows you to view all screens simultaneously?" His fingers fall flat on the keyboard and suddenly, the whir of his space heater sounds louder than ever. The biggest project of the fiscal year rests in his trembling hands. "You've got to figure this out," he repeats to himself.
If we assume this customer had previously been taught this task, it's evident the procedure has been long forgotten. In this situation, it's clear your company needs to have something in place to help customers such as a training program, support in multiple forms, or even in-app help.
But the most important question is, "How can we set our customers up for success during the on-boarding process so that people forget less of what they learned?" While this is a relatively difficult question to solve, having many variables involved, there is a model we can use to improve how we help our customers learn and adopt our software. And it comes from the work of Nir Eyal, author of the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. Nir argues that by leveraging psychology, any software can be designed to be addictive. These four elements that comprise addictive software include: triggers, actions, rewards, and investment. By implementing these four elements, anyone can (hypothetically) create a great piece of software that really sticks in the minds of its users.
ServiceRocket was fortunate enough to interview Nir to discuss addictive software while addressing the question, "How can this model be applied to user training?"
Can user training increase addiction to software?
If you take anything away from this article, it should be the notion of frequency: that sense of urgency which draws a user's attention in time and time again. User training can induce triggers that help learners remember what they need to do or even remind them of information they previously learned. While these triggers serve as reminders that reinforce what was learned in a training course, they can also interrupt the forgetting curve so that people essentially forget less and retain more.
An example trigger: The email reminder
A common practice can include something as simple as a follow-up email aimed at developing a meaningful relationship between the company and the user... something that says "Hey, we're here to help!" This type of trigger reminds people that this new software is something they should use. Reminders can open a multitude of doors and allow for a seamless transition into proper software usage. Trainers have that ability to interrupt the forgetting curve with a reminder while simultaneously reinforcing training for the future.
An example action: experiential learning through labs
Once a user is prompted with a trigger to revisit a lesson, analyze data usage, or explore previously untapped resources, an action can be taken. Training can provide many types of actions to help a concept stick. For example, action learning can be one of the most beneficial methods of getting a point across. Besides, intentions often mean fairly little without a concrete resulting action. A well-developed training program can provide a user with endless possibilities geared towards a deeper more functional understanding of software and its purpose.
An example reward: Your job will be easier/better if you do this
One of the most important points Nir makes in this interview is that addictive software gets people to want to use it. People want to use addictive software because there is some reward at the end of an action...even if the reward is having a funny picture forwarded to you from a friend. So, the question for software trainers is, "How can we through training convince people to want to use the software?" One way is to help learners understand that somehow, by using this software, their job will be better. Better could mean, someone's job is easier or someone is more productive. The point is that there is some sort of payoff. Trainers know this concept as a WIIFM (What's In It For Me), which is a way of designing a learning experience so that learners understand why they should care about learning the topic of a course. If training can help your customers become better at their job, and you can show them how, you can almost guarantee people will want to use your software.
An example investment: Users who take the time to apply what they learned because they understand the personal payoff
The positive feedback loop of actions and rewards pave the way for meaningful investments, which is the time and energy someone will take to use (learn to use) a software tool at work. Trainers who are proactive in reaching out to clients can utilize customer usage data to help identify habits that have been broken and require reinforcement. By focusing on outcomes and goals every step of the way, training becomes the keystone to desirable software.
The secret is getting people to want to use your software
While proper user training is often underplayed, it is such a crucial element to efficient software usage. Most importantly, training can be used to apply the process of making a software product addictive. If you design training that creates triggers, prompts customers to take some action, help them understand the WIIFM, and convince them to make an investment of time to use your software, you can nurture people who want to use your software. In the end, training will help people become addicted to your enterprise software product.
Call for comments
- How do you use triggers in your training courses?
- How do you convince people to "want to" use certain features in your product?