What Can Brands Learn from DingTalk’s Approach to Experience Optimization?

What Can Brands Learn from DingTalk’s Approach to Experience Optimization?

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How can we get happy users by polishing the user experience?

“Dinglingling Dinglingling”, the notification sound has become students’worst nightmare since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, obliging schools across the whole of China to offer online courses. Chinese students are terrified when the notification pops up as it means that either the teacher has assigned new homework, exam results have been released, or any number of incessant chores have been frantically delegated by teachers longing to retain their grip over their home-bound students.

Students overwhelmed by teachers overcompensating for their departure from the physical classroom launched a coordinated attack against DingTalk within app stores. They bombarded the app with negative ratings in a bid to get it delisted (known as ‘review bombing’). The product itself is fit for purpose – what is interesting here is how overzealous users on one side of the platform are negatively impacting the other side. Of course students cannot complain against their teachers, so they redirect that negativity back toward the product.

DingTalk is trying to resolve the problem and mitigate the negative impact of their unhappy users through communication practice and product improvements. It has successfully turned the negative attention into a positive branding effort. Its successful strategy for regaining the trust of its users can inspire numerous managers from all industries who are currently facing similar issues.

At Madjor, we have designed a unique framework to assess & optimize your platform’s experience, integrating 4 dimensions: digital strategy, brand application, experience design and technical operations. Our goal is to help you effectively link usability, conversions and brand equity building in the long term.

(source: MADJOR)

In this article, we start from brand application and experience design to analyze DingTalk’s practice in order to explore how it is trying to smooth the inherent problems for the teacher-student relationships.

Identify Struggles Through Empathy

Pain Point 1: Inefficient Communication

Offline learning experiences lead to some problems for students when assimilating the lessons. The sudden switch to remote working has increased those issues and created new barriers. Students used to reach out to classmates or their teachers for help whenever there is a question, but now they have to wait for a reply in text or voice message. Sometimes they may not even get a response if their messages are buried and lost in hundreds of questions from other students. Students are becoming extremely anxious, some of them have slowed down their learning pace since they have to spend more time digesting the materials and waiting for feedback.

Pain Point 2: All-Day Monitoring Pressure

On the teacher’s side, DingTalk quickly became a monitoring tool. To ensure all of the students are on track, teachers use DingTalk to supervise their students as they cannot watch them in person. Teachers are worried that the students are not motivated enough due to distractions at home. As a result, teachers tend to assign more tasks and send more messages than normal, in order to keep students focused on their learning goals and performance objectives.

Pain Point 3: Unbearable Homework Burden

This new learning environment also created misconceptions. Some of the teachers hold the idea that students have more time for studying as they don’t need to spend time on commuting when isolated at home. Some teachers even believe that students can now start to study as soon as they wake up. Students claim they don’t have the time and energy to keep up with the highly intense learning schedule and heavy workload.

(source: baidu.com)

Optimize Your Experience Constantly

Step 1: Communicating For Relevance

On April Fools’ day, DingTalk made an impressive prank by marketing a fake new version, the one that students are dreaming of  As shown in a video on Weibo, it claims that “We will launch a new version of DingTalk with an anti-study addiction system. Students who have studied via DingTalk for more than 6 hours will be automatically pushed offline. If one online class lasts over 135 minutes, it would be forced to stop.” The prank has helped lighten up consumers’ mood and win their hearts with humor. Although it is a joke, it can definitely invoke the emotional resonance among the teenagers as they are seeking to have a less stressful study life and more freedom to do other things they are interested in. This deflects negativity from the product.

(source: DingTalk official Weibo)

Step2: Integrate Users

DingTalk cannot get to the root of this matter only through communication. It determined to solve the problems in a proactive way by opening a new job position called "product experiencer". As a product experiencer, the person will try DingTalk’s product and give feedbacks for product development and improvement. Students (especially primary school students) are encouraged to apply as they fall into DingTalk’s target group. Through this program, DingTalk can better understand users’ needs and concerns, and eventually improve their product to provide a better user experience.

(source: Alibaba official website)

Step3: Customization To Suit Your Needs

DingTalk went one step further by releasing a new APP called 专属钉钉(Exclusive DingTalk) which enables consumers to “build their own DingTalk” using different customizable settings. The new App offers exclusive capabilities allowing consumers to choose the design, storage, security and higher level of personalization options. Overall, it offers a highly user-friendly remote work tool that allows each consumer to get exactly the type of DingTalk they want.

(source: DingTalk official Weibo )

Through a series of relatively simple initiatives, DingTalk has strategically turned the negative reviews on its product into positive buzz and successfully increased its brand affinity among young users. This case highlights the challenges of balancing the needs of diverse users across a platform while demonstrating that solutions do not always require a technical fix or overhaul of core functionality. Understanding the perspective of each user group and communicating effectively can be a good starting point toward shaping behaviors to deliver a mutually beneficial experience for all.