Turning amateur users into experts

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Geoffrey Keating:

The question of what it takes to become an expert has occupied psychologists for decades.

As user onboarding and customer success have become more important, it’s pre-occupied businesses too.

So how do you get users to master your product? Most businesses try in one of the following ways.

  1. You can drag them kicking and screaming towards the finish line. Sure, you can successfully push people to do something in the short term, but the minute you stop, they stop.

  2. You can patiently hold their hand, and spoonfeed them the answers. Again, this works well in the short term, but because users are relying so much on autopilot, it’s hard to get anyone past the “OK plateau”.

  3. Or you can give people the tools they need to teach themselves, coupled with gentle prompts towards success.

While options 1 and 2 might work for you in the short term, they still rely heavily on one-to-one interaction. Unless you plan on building a business around white-glove onboarding, you’re going to need to help customers become experts by themselves. That means giving them the tools to succeed, with graduated hints and gentle prompts along the way. Here’s a few ways you can do that.

Interesting reading from Geoffrey.