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Newsletter #889: The “Help Them Use It” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Making it easier for people to use your stuff leads to better shopping and product experiences. It makes customers happier, it saves on customer service costs, and it reduces headaches for everyone.

Any business can do this. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Send a simple reminder
2. Focus on the timing
3. Simplify what they’re already doing
4. Check it out: I’m Remembering

1. Send a simple reminder

Your customers are busy, and that can make things like regular maintenance tough to keep up. But it’s in your best interest to help them do it — the longer your stuff lasts and the better it performs, the more likely they are to buy again and recommend you to their friends. That’s the thinking behind Dyson’s super-simple emails reminding customers to wash their filters. These “Wash Day” emails share information on how to do the cleaning and include a phone number if you need help. The emails also close with this great line: “If it’s OK with you, we’ll send you reminders from time to time — washing your filters regularly will help to keep your machine working at its best.”

The lesson: Help your customers get the most out of your products by sending them simple instructions, reminders, and tips. Their stuff will work better, and they’ll love you for how much you care.

2. Focus on the timing

A lot of usability simply comes down to timing. If it’s not convenient for them, people just won’t do it. QR codes are a great example. It seems like they’re always jammed in odd places at odd times — which is part of the reason so few people bother with them. But Applebee’s stumbled onto a great moment to feature them: At the table while customers wait for their food. People already have their phones out, and the QR codes give them something to explore. The result of the experiment was a whopping 30,000 conversions in just one month. That’s a whole bunch of people using a still-new technology, and all because they found the right time to present it.

The lesson: Find the perfect time and you’ll find the best way to help them use it.

Learn more: MediaPost

3. Simplify what they’re already doing

A great way to help customers use something is to focus on their existing behavior and preferences. Macy’s is doing this by installing WiFi in all of their stores. The goal is to help customers get better access to online resources they’re already using to shop, compare, and research before making purchases. They know that 90% of their customers are already doing this before buying, so they’re making it even easier. This means happier customers, a better in-store experience, and a whole new reason to shop at Macy’s first.

The lesson: It’s a lot harder to completely change behavior than it is to focus on tweaking something they’re already doing.

Learn more: Internet Retailer

4. Check it out: I’m Remembering

Cruise this fantastic collection of nostalgia from the 80’s and 90’s for a look back to a time of snake sparklers, My Little Pony, and Fresh Prince.

Check it out: I’m Remembering

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