Saurabh Arora

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How to make your employees use your products?

Nick Wingfield has an interesting story on WSJ touching one of the most intriguing topics – Employer’s stance towards workers’ personal use of competitor products.

The perils of being an iPhone user at Microsoft were on display last September. At an all- company meeting in a Seattle sports stadium, one hapless employee used his iPhone to snap photos of Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. Mr. Ballmer snatched the iPhone out of the employee’s hands, placed it on the ground and pretended to stomp on it in front of thousands of Microsoft workers, according to people present. Mr. Ballmer uses phones from different manufacturers that run on Microsoft’s mobile phone software.

via online.wsj.com

To view employees unfavorably or discriminate because of their use of competitor products or services is clearly not a good practice for any organization. No matter how bad it hurts seeing your own employees using competitor products, it’s often always best not to confront directly and certainly not make it a policy. However, one could adopt one or more of the many approaches to promote usage among the company. Some of these are outlined below.

  • Give it free or at reduced price: Google recently gave a Nexus One phone free to all of its employees before the actual launch of the phone. Not only this tactic resulted in improving employee happiness quotient but also provided the company free publicity with everyone talking about it with their friends/family.
  • Make everyone a product manager: In the early stages of the product in an already established market, the cost of switching existing users to your own product can be quite high. By promoting employees to contribute ideas towards improving the product not only ensures usage but also greater buy-in among the employees.
  • Use it internally: Using the product internally often helps identification of problems early resulting in a more robust product. By using the product within your own organization successfully is the best proof of concept that the product in fact works and provides Sales the necessary confidence to sell outside.
  • Be passionate: The truth is if you are not passionate about it, the world too will not be passionate. Steve Jobs is known for the famous product launches emphasizing words such as “incredible”, “amazing” and “awesome” at least a dozen times within a keynote address.

If you are a policy maker in your organization, think before you want to outright ban / discourage use of competitor products. There are obviously better options.

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Saurabh Arora is is crunching numbers at Faceboook. Previously, he got his hands dirty doing product development, online customer acquisition, product marketing and online revenue generation for one of the India's leading online job portal.

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