Market musings

The Single UX Principle Defining the Future of Business Phone Systems

by Sasha Viasasha
December 13, 2017

In the search for utility, too many companies have wandered into the dark forest of complexity. In pursuit of the reasonable goal of providing more value for their customers, these businesses confused more features with greater benefits. 

Examples of this critical thinking error can be found in every industry, but it tends to get out of hand quickly in the tech sector. A survey by Accenture found that 83 percent of consumers have encountered new tech that they wanted to use but couldn't due to the complexity. When this happens with business phone systems, users simply default to mobile. This is why we built Spoke Phone, which offers all the key features you need to operate a small business, without the complications. 

Complicated tech can seem appealing when shopping. More options appear to provide more value. But is that the case? According to the Accenture study:

3 problems with complicated tech

Here are the top three problems they encountered:

  1. “Too complicated to use” was the top complaint, a problem for 21 percent of users
  2. "Breakdowns during set-up" came in second place, encountered by 19 percent of users
  3. Tech that “did not work as advertised” tied for second place as a big disappointment for 19 percent of users

Overcoming the “fear of the new” is one of the biggest challenges faced by innovative companies. These businesses can’t afford to drive off early adopters with non-intuitive and overly complicated tech. Fortunately, there’s one UX principle that has proven invaluable for helping designers recognize when they’ve gone too far. It boils down to the quantification of usability.  Usability is key to successful tech adoption, especially when considering mobility. A business phone system designed for use on mobile phones, for example, has to be able to function despite intermittent connectivity.   

The Pareto Principle 

A smarter approach to UX design for any innovative system involves evaluating new features using the Pareto Principle, also known as “The 80/20 rule.”

The concept is that about 80 percent of results normally derive from about 20 percent of inputs. In any unequal distribution of resources, effectiveness tends to pool around a limited set of critical factors. 

Richard Koch famously applied this principle to a number of common business problems in his book The 80/20 Principle.  Koch wrote, "It tells us that, at any one point, a majority of any phenomenon will be explained or caused by a minority of the actors participating in the phenomenon.... A few things are important, most are not."

In terms of UX for office phone systems, this principle suggests that vast majority of professionals simply need their phones to do a few, very important tasks. That’s backed up by academic research like “Feature Fatigue,” published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Feature Fatigue

In this study from the University of Maryland, researchers concluded, “As the marginal cost of adding features decreases, approaching zero for information-based products (e.g., software), firms are likely to increase product capability beyond the optimal level. This is a dangerous trend: Both our empirical findings and our analytical model suggest that adding costless features can damage firms’ profitability by decreasing the usability of products and consumers’ satisfaction with them.”

When there is a learning curved involved, less is more. More features doesn’t equal more utility for the user. The report also found that, “each function the consumer does not actually use adds to the difficulty of learning how to use the product without providing any functional benefit.”

The reality is that beyond a certain optimal level of functionality, adding more features only reduces user engagement and overloads the user’s cognitive functioning. Users don’t register this as the company trying hard to satisfy them by giving them more options. They just register it as bad design.

A higher standard for simplicity

Phones are unlike any other forms of tech like servers in that user expectations are set by phones of the past and apps now. People expect the simplicity of a pick-up-and-dial device. They want to concentrate on what they are saying, not the machinery that mediates their conversations.

Professionals don’t have time to remember codes when they want to transfer a number or to scroll through multiple pages on a tiny desk phone screen when they want to find a coworker’s number. Fast-moving companies can’t spare the time to devote long hours for wiring and programming an on-premise PBX system.

User-friendliness is among the key considerations that business owners shop for in a new system. Too many business owners have discovered the hard way that overly complicated phone system full of rarely used features is simply unproductive for managers and workers.

Essential features of a business phone system

Today business is mobile. Business owners can’t afford to have a phone system tied to a single location. Spoke Phone is a virtual PBX designed for growing companies in the mobile world.

A simple, elegant Spoke Phone application converts employee phones into a mobile network with all the essential features you need and none of the distractions that slow you down. Port over your existing business line, or run it exclusively on your smartphone using a new DDI number and assign extensions for employees.

Spoke Phone handles essential business phone features such as:

  • High quality audio for clarity of voice
  • Find-me/follow-me to ring the user’s mobile device
  • Easy call transfer from mobile-to-mobile
  • Team calling and conferencing 
  • Smart geo-routing to the closest office
  • Local numbers all around the world
  • Masking private mobile number behind a company line
  • A learning AI receptionist that adapts to the speaker
  • The ability to capture call data and notes for CRM
  • An active smart directory that's always up-to-date

Spoke Phone eliminates the roadblocks that prevent your employees from solving problems on the phone. At the same time Spoke keeps your company data secure and your private calls stay private. Slash your communications expense by up to 88% while your employees get to keep using the smartphones they already know and love.

The old barriers to business don’t apply anymore. Get Spoke, go mobile and start disrupting your industry, while saving big on the time and hassles that come with legacy phone systems. 

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