Applying The Concepts of Persuasive Design

Applying the Concepts of Persuasive Design in SalesforceWe all know that marketers use a large amount of behavioral science and psychology to craft and deliver their messages which, they hope, will drive behavior (i.e.: make a purchase). Designers are now leveraging these findings in a design philosophy called “persuasive design” as a way of influencing consumer behavior. But could it be applied to Salesforce?

Several weeks ago I was reading a Fast Company post titled 10 Tips for Getting Customers to do What You Want and began to apply the concepts to Salesforce. While it is true that we don’t have the ability to change the UI (user interface) of Salesforce without help from some very talented developers, the UX (user experience) can be customized to drive specific behaviors considering you are careful to apply good process design and understand the power of behavioral psychology.

Here are the basic concepts.

Make it personal: The persuasive power and “me” and “my.”

This concept isn’t a new one. Anytime end users can have a sense of ownership and control over a decision, they feel empowered and are more apt to adopt and adapt. When we put the power to choose into the hands of our customers (in our case, end users), users have a sense of ownership which increases satisfaction levels and builds a willingness to assist in design improvements over time.

As designers, we need to include our end users in the design and decision-making process and congratulate those that vocalize ideas which get implemented as a way to encourage contributions.

Tip the scales: How perceptions of losses and gains influences our choices.

Specific behavior can be driven when there are associated gains and expressed losses. Tip the odds in their favor. Give them something for free. To me, this is very much the “what’s in it for me” or WIFM type statements. Keep in mind that a system by itself can have WIFM statements (such as cloud vs. on-premise) but it is important to build WIFM statements into your solution designs. When you can combine the system and process WIFM statements, the perception of gains becomes hard to deny.

The psychology behind this step is to emphasize loss along with gains in order to encourage certain behavior. When a loss is significant enough, users will see the value in the gain and find the experience more pleasurable.

Craft the journey: Why the entire experience matters.

Design is about the experience which should suck as little as possible. When the journey is enjoyable, users want more. However, you can’t make an enjoyable process if you don’t know your users. Understand the pain points, know the culture, and personify your users based on known demographic information. Use these personas as you build and craft your design to ensure that the design will be accepted by users. Click here for some resources on crafting personas, thanks to Hubspot.

Part of this process is to paint a euphoric picture where positive expectations are commonplace while negatives are mitigated or reduced. This isn’t to say that we ignore or shun the negative – we choose to highlight the positives.

Set up the options: Setting the stage for the desired outcome.

Our users want options; they want the power to choose. Because consumers can choose a behavior that a designer doesn’t desire, it is important to design the decisions so that the choice you want the user to choose is more compelling than the alternative. 

I was asked to be a Salesforce adviser for a non-profit who is looking at replacing their current donor management systems with Salesforce. During the strategic planning session, it was learned that the organization was not going to force the tool upon them (for various reasons). They would instead provide Salesforce as an option. Salesforce is the choice that the organization wants the chapters to make so it was agreed that Salesforce had to provide a huge value proposition when compared to the current solution – effectively making the desired choice a “no-brainer.”

Keep it simple: Avoiding undesirable outcomes.

Complexity is your enemyThere is a tendency to make systems and processes complicated. Not because we want a complicated process but because we can’t find common ground around how to simplify. When designing a system (and I would include system documentation as well), it is important to not overwhelm the user with an excessive amount of content or an endless number of decisions. When users become overwhelmed, they shut down and disregard the outcome in order to complete the task at hand. If our processes are not simple and executed as such in Salesforce, the desired outcomes will not come to fruition.

Every administrator has experienced this. An overwhelming page layout with a lot of required fields, forcing the user to make multiple decisions is the perfect example. When the user is presented with this lack of simplicity, they shut down and start choosing random values to save the record resulting in dirty data. Leverage tools like workflow rules to automate field updates in order to reduce decision fatigue is one way of skirting the issue.

Want to dive deeper? Click here to get PDF version of the Behavior Change Strategy Cards which will go into more detail on each of the above points.

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