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Have you ever found yourself going to a Lego store intent on buying an assortment of Lego pieces as a gift for someone, but when faced with so much choice, you end up buying nothing?
This type of scenario popped into my head following a conversation with someone at the Call Centre Expo in London last week when we were discussing the impact and use of no-code/low-code platforms in delivering better customer outcomes.
Specifically, they reflected that while they had seen a number of enterprises purchase low-code platforms to help them democratize the development of new functionality, processes, tools, apps, etc., many of the enterprises they had observed had struggled to get value out of these platforms as they didn’t know where to start.
This idea of too much choice getting in our way of taking action is a classic example of the Paradox of Choice.
I first came across the idea of the paradox of choice in a 2006 HBR article: More Isn’t Always Better by Barry Schwartz.
In the article, Schwartz discusses the pioneering work of psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper in 2000, who showed that providing customers with more choice is not always better than giving them less choice. Specifically, Schwartz cites the landmark experiment that Iyengar and Lepper conducted in a supermarket in California. In that experiment, shoppers were offered differing ranges of jams and preserves. Specifically, when presented with a large range of 24 jams, whilst more shoppers stopped at the display only 3% went on to purchase a pot of jam. In contrast, when shoppers were offered only a limited range of 6 jams, whilst fewer shoppers stopped at the display, 30% went on to buy a pot of jam.
What this illustrates is that while we as people like choice and are attracted to it, when faced with too many choices, we struggle to decide what to do, resulting in us taking less action.
Other researchers have subsequently replicated these findings across a range of products, services and applications, consistently finding that the provision of more choice actually leads to less action.
Going back to my conversation at Call Centre Expo in London, I wondered how common this situation was in the no-code/low-code platform environment and what vendors were doing about it. So, I contacted Jason Miller, Vice President of RevOps & Sales Enablement at Creatio, a leading low-code platform provider, to get his take.
When I described the conversation I had had to him, Miller commented, “Often one of the hardest things to do, in any project, is to start”. Specifically, with respect to the use of low-code platforms, he went on to say, “With all of the available options, and the power to do almost anything, this can often lead to analysis paralysis, and never really getting off the ground.”
Recognizing this as a real challenge, Miller told me that Creatio provides its customers with pre-built templates to help them get started, but that they have also recently built Gen AI into their platform, so users can now start building initial application prototypes based on a simple description prompt.
In addition, their CEO, Katherine Kostereva, has recently co-authored a book, No-Code Playbook, which aims to establish not only the why and value of leveraging a no-code approach but also to guide enterprises on when to leverage a no-code approach and also how to do it in an efficient and effective way.
From this, it’s clear that Creatio understands the challenges their customers face in getting value from the tools they provide and are responding.
However, the occurrence of the Paradox of Choice is not limited to the low-code/no-code platform environment. I’ve heard numerous stories of similar situations occurring across many other areas of business and technology.
The lesson here is that we should be wary of this phenomenon when buying anything and, in particular, when buying technology.
All the bells and whistles may be interesting, attractive, and, in some cases, required. But, we should be careful not to get seduced by an abundance of choice and possibility and instead should focus on finding the right tool for the job and then doing everything we can to make things as simple as possible for users to get started. That’s the key to adoption, value and better outcomes across the board.