At Microsoft, it’s the job of Bing behavioral scientist Matt Wallaert to “try and make technology more human,” he told the breakfast crowd at Friday’s BmoreTech Meetup at the Emerging Technology Center.
He does this by drawing on his knowledge of behavioral psychology. While Wallaert is a two-time startup founder, he’s also a published academic (and has been at Microsoft for just five months). His arrival in Baltimore was part of an East Coast swing.
His message for startup founders: embrace behavior science.
- “All behaviors are competing pressures.” There are reasons not to do something — inhibitory cues — and reasons to do something — promotion cues.
- Startups tend to spend a lot of time thinking about promotion, or motivational, cues in an effort to get people to use their products or services. Startups spend almost no time thinking about inhibitory cues.
- Before users sign up for a service, it’s more important for startups to think about what’s inhibiting people from doing so, and then “make it as easy as humanly possible for them to sign up,” he said.
- Once users sign up for a service, then startups should shift to think about promotion pressures in an effort to prevent people from abandoning.
- Think Netflix. Wallaert said Netflix is attractive to consumers because it’s easy to sign up. And why are people hesitant to leave? “The [DVD] queue is the most important thing in Netflix,” he said. In other words, people aren’t inhibited from signing up by a complicated and confusing system, and are motivated to remain with Netflix lest they lose their list of movies accumulated in their queue over time.
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