The Paradox Of Choice: What Do Jam, Apple & Zoho Have In Common?

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“There are now 9 different kinds of bread being sold at the store? I don’t like having so much choice in life. It’s frustrating!”

When my friend told me this, I thought he was crazy. How can too much choice ever be a bad thing?

Let’s explore.

The paradox of choice states that the more time you spend analyzing your choices, the less happy you are with them. We deal with this paradox everyday.

Psychologists have tried to understand this paradox more.

paradox-of-choiceThe Jam Analysis:

This was a popular experiment by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University, in 1995. ​Professor Iyengar and her team set up a booth of Wilkin & Sons jam in a market. Every few hours they changed the number of varieties they put on display from 6 to 24 jams.

They found that about 60% of people sampled from the larger selection as compared to only 40% from the smaller selection.

But what about purchases? Only 3% of those who sampled the larger selection of jams made a purchase. In comparison, 30% of those who sampled from the smaller selection made a purchase.

For those interested, this New York Times article covers the research in some detail.

This paradox of choice is something the software industry has also been wrestling with for some time. Apple released a simplified version of its wireless router software that removed many of the advanced menu of choices that users found too confusing.

Another famous example is the “Off” option on the old Windows Vista. From the start menu there were a staggering nine different options to choose from. 2 icons, plus 7 menu items. 9 different options to shut down your computer? That’s bonkers!

Samsung is now on overdrive launching numerous tablets. Since the start of 2014, Samsung has announced 11 models of Android tablets. In addition, ​Samsung still sells 11 different tablets that they launched earlier. For those who haven’t lost count yet, that is a remarkable 22 tablets! I’m probably forgetting a few too. Just imagine how much stronger Samsung, ​and its vaunted support, would be if they focused on just a few products.

Looking internally, ​we at Zoho, too were guilty ​of overburdening and confusing our customers with numerous choices. Zoho projects used to have 8 different pricing plans broken down into monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly. That makes it 32, ​yes, 32, different pricing plans!

zprojects-old-pricingWe learned from our mistakes, and reduced the pricing plans down to a simple 4.

So, what’s the solution?

Here’s the thing: choice is useful only when it means something. Flooding consumers with hundreds of variations of the same basic concept, a la Samsung, simply causes confusion and dilutes the brand. There is no exact science that says you should limit your product offerings to 5 or 7 choices. More important is to offer choices that have some unique value in their own way and to make the ​decision-making process effortless and enjoyable.

Too often, products do not have a clear well-established value proposition. Consumers will always pay for what they find valuable. The key is in clearly establishing what the value of the product is.

A good example of this is the way in which Apple markets the iPhone. Their commercials show the product being used in a situation or use case, thus clearly establishing its value.

If you’re struggling with deciding how many choices to offer, a good practice to follow is continuous A/B testing. Launch your product or plan one at a time, gauge the response to it and make a decision accordingly. ​That way, you avoid overburdening your customers with too much, and you give them a simple option with a well-defined value proposition.

P.S: If you’re interested in learning more about the paradox of choice, here is a great TED talk by Barry Schwartz.

3 Ways Zoho Docs Can Save You from the Perils of Book Publishing

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Four years ago, I ​started working in a publishing house as an editor. Soon after I joined, it became clear to me that a key part of my job was to collaborate with multiple players. ​Working with people to publish a single book is a mammoth task. It takes up a lot of time and is exhausting. At the end of each day, you feel you didn’t get any editing done at all because you spent all your time making sure everyone was ‘on the same page’. Pun intended.

When I started using Zoho, it changed the way I edited. I felt more productive and got more done in less time.

ComicStrip-UpdatedHere are three reasons I’m ‘​booked on‘ Zoho Docs: Read more

Zoho People – Multiple Criteria. Simple Approvals.

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Approvals are required to ensure smooth workflow in an organization – be it for project submissions, timesheets, billing, leave or any other forms. The standard approval process involves a reporting manager approving his employees’ forms.
However, what if different forms required different levels of approvals to satisfy different criteria?

Bill, the HR Manager of Falcon Enterprises, wants to streamline his time-off approval process. It seems like he has too many conditions:
(a) The approval has to be triggered only if an employee is on leave for 3 days.
(b) This to be the case just for casual leaves and not any other.
(c) It is exclusive to certain designations in his organization and not for all the employees.
(d) Finally, the records are to be subjected to multi-level approvals.

Clearly, primitive approval processes cannot handle any such requirements.
That’s why Zoho People lets you configure unlimited approvals. This is how its done:

1. Select the Form for Approval

add-form

Zoho People lets you configure your approvals based on individual forms and modules. Different forms like leave applications, timesheets, employee details, exit details, etc., can have specific settings. All you have to do is select the ‘form type’ from the drop down menu and the required criteria can be set.
Yes, it’s that simple!

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Business in Florida Shifts Base to Zoho’s Camp

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“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Albert Einstein.

I like many things about the company Basecamp. They have written some remarkable books and maintain an interesting blog. Having their roots in design, their products provide a good user experience. Like us, they too have eschewed venture capital. Both companies don’t like the bubble-mania that so often sweeps our industry; our focus is on the the long haul. 

However, when it comes to product management, we part ways with them. The simplicity of Basecamp comes at a cost that it does not have the depth needed to handle complex projects. Their constant refrain of “Less is more” or rather “Less is less” comes in the way of the recognition that complex projects do exist. We, on the other hand, come from a conviction that simplistic slogans cannot substitute for product management. Product management is about making difficult choices in facing complex problems.

We provide a hierarchical structure consisting of milestones, task lists, tasks and subtasks to break down complex projects into easily manageable units. Views like the Gantt Chart and the Resource Utilisation Chart are needed to ensure that a project with different people in different places working on different tasks, sticks to schedule. There is essential, irreducible complexity in the real world. An app that can meet this complexity needs to be feature rich and sophisticated. Failing to acknowledge this practical truth, sounds to us like, “We don’t like complex problems, so let’s pretend they don’t exist!”

To understand how this difference in ideology can impact businesses, take the case of Sunny Land Tours, a Florida based operator specializing in trips to Egypt and the middle east.

Zoho Projects Egypt

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Localize custom business apps with Zoho Creator

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Zoho Creator App TranslationZoho Creator customers don’t just speak many different languages, but they also collaborate with co-workers, customers and vendors who speak several other languages. App translation is important to our customers. And, here it is.

We’re excited to announce that you can now easily translate your Zoho Creator apps into multiple languages.

Got coworkerscustomers, vendors speaking different languages?

Want to share the business app with colleagues in French and Chinese? We’ve made that easy. Create your app in any language and users accessing the app can view it in their preferred language. Break down the language barrier quickly and efficiently, as both speak in your native language. 

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8 tips for measuring (and improving) customer happiness

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Dear Newark Airport Express,

Not that you care, which you made glaringly obvious during our interactions, but your customer service sucks. Actually, sucks is far too generous. Let me see if I can dig up an adjective to accurately describe your “customer service.” Insipid, deprived, anemic… those aren’t quite painting the picture either.

Let’s try this on, Newark Airport Express (operated by Coach USA), whatever the opposite of customer service is – customer disservice? – you dominate that game and will be in contention for the top spot at this year’s most miserable event, the World Cup of Dissatisfaction. Pay attention, Time Warner Cable and Comcast. While your impending supernova of awful customer service might swallow us all, you’re gonna have to fight to take down these buses if you want the trophy. 

To those with customers, I beg you to take note. While I don’t have the secret recipe to amazing customer service, I can point you in the right direction (the exact opposite route Coach USA takes) of the most important ingredient. It’s the same ingredient on which many of our most beloved brands base their signature sauce.

Tip #1

Boiled down to the basics, customer service is all about delivering happiness to your customers. So if you only take one thing away today, remember that screaming at paying customers, refusing to offer solutions, threatening missed flights, and making a whole bus full of customers uncomfortable at 5:30 a.m. (all before ever leaving the stop) isn’t recommended. Read more

Branding and Formatting Resumes Inside Zoho Recruit

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Branded ResumesIt was an amazing weekend. You spent time with family and friends, had dinner at your favorite restaurant and even caught a last-minute show from one of your favorite bands.

But now it’s Monday morning. You walk into the office — coffee in hand — open your laptop, log in to your email and there they are.

Dozens of emails from candidates applying to different job postings from each of your clients.

Your job? Look over the resumes, find the top candidates for each job posting and forward them along to prospective employers. However, before you can send off these resumes, you need to make sure each client knows which staffing agency that particular resume came from.

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