Products, services and software: Why is ease of use so important?

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Ease of use always ranks highly when it comes to what customers want from a product or service. Whether it’s something they intend to use in their personal lives, like a mobile phone, or their work lives, like office equipment or business software, simplicity is crucial when attempting to make your product or service stand out to potential customers.

Think of Apple products. Our trusty iPhones, iPads and MacBooks are as popular as ever, and, arguably, that may not necessarily be because they are the best gadgets on the market. Instead, Apple has always made its products easy to use, with simple buttons, accessible screens and clear set up instructions, meaning they have appealed to a wide range of customers over the years.

In fact, Apple are so confident in the usability of their products that, when launching the iPad, they used the tagline ‘you already know how to use it’, directly appealing to the customer’s need for a product to be easy to use.

Confirming the above, a study carried out by Accenture revealed 33% of consumers cite ease of use as a key factor when buying a smartphone device. At Virtual Cabinet, our own surveys have consistently shown the same outcome, with ease of use always rated high on our customers’ agendas when asked what they look for in a new software product.

But why is ease of use so important for businesses when it comes to obtaining and retaining customers?

Making a good first impression

Brand loyalty is often shaped by a customer’s first impression of your company and its product or service offering. Like all first impressions, you only get to do this once. This means that getting it right the first time is critical, and ease of use is a key factor when it comes to leaving a positive impression in your customer’s mind.

If your product is easy to use from the get-go, your customers are more likely to form a positive relationship with your brand. But if a product is difficult to use, this first impression is likely to be lasting, and could possibly deter a customer from purchasing your product or other items from your company in the future.

Additionally, if a prospective customer or user finds your product or application too hard to use, they might fall at the first hurdle. Giving up at this stage could mean they miss out on all your useful products or application features, so preventing this by ensuring your product is easy to use is fundamental!

Reducing customer support requirements

Outstanding ease of use can dramatically reduce the amount of resources needed when it comes to offering your customers support. If a client is easily able to use your product, service or application, there will be less need for customer services, in turn saving you time and money as a business.

When looking at customer support, think about how easy it is for your customers to find answers to their questions or queries too. Consider creating FAQs, videos and easy to find self-help blog posts in order to maximise ease of use even when a problem does arise.

Gaining positive recommendations

Product recommendations are often one of the first things a potential customer will consult before deciding whether or not to part with their cash.

Some 77% of people read online reviews before making a purchase, and 91% of consumers say they trust advice from other like-minded people more than they trust input from a salesperson. Positive reviews can also come in the form of personal recommendations, too.

Many of our customers recommend Virtual Cabinet due to how easy it is to use, and as a company we know how important and valuable positive reviews can be when it comes to spreading the word. You can see what many of our customers have to say about Virtual Cabinet here.

By giving your customers a product, service, application or software which is easy to use, you are far more likely to encourage positive reviews like these. People put massive amounts of trust in online reviews, despite having probably never met the people who have written them. For that reason, positive reviews, both online and through word of mouth, will go further than just your brand message when convincing people to purchase your product and become loyal, returning customers in the future.

Broadening your audience

The easier your product, service, application or software is to use, the more customers you will reach. If a product is simple to use, and additional information and support is easily accessible, you are more likely to attract a much broader range of customers.

Another way to ensure your product is easy to use is to test it on people who don’t know about it. You and others in your company will know your product inside out, so it’s easy to assume that potential customers may have more knowledge or understanding of it than they actually do.

By testing it on people who may not even be likely to use your products – perhaps your family and friends – you can ensure your product is really simple to use, making it far more accessible to many more people and maximising sales both now and in the future.

Creating happy, long-term customers

Above all, ease of use is critical to creating happy customers in the longer term. If your product, service, software or application is super simple to use, not only will people love it, but they’ll keep coming back.

Out of 218 customers surveyed by Virtual Cabinet in May 2017, the ease of use of our software was rated eight out of 10. Ease of use is central to everything we do at Virtual Cabinet, and our intelligent document management system has revolutionised the working lives of many professionals across a range of industries, including accounting, financial, legal, insurance and property services.

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