When we first started developing Tendo at the end of 2018, the intention was to specifically build a product for users who have intermittent or limited access to the internet. Limited might relate to a lack of device access, or to network itself. Once you consider the up-font cost of feature phones versus smartphones, network connectivity within a text and call capacity makes sense for emerging technology markets. Feature phones again make sense for being relatively robust and having long battery lives, when composed with a smartphone where even a complete day’s use without a charge is a rare event.
We’ve used Nexmo to power a SMS service to use Tendo, sending text messages with workplace credentials to cell numbers. By using the exchange, feature phone users without access to smartphone could still participate in Tendo and experience web at later stage. Despite this, most of our sign-ups continue to use email address, authorising their accounts with 85% success.
To get some further ideas about what to look out for as we continue to find edge cases, we posted on a Facebook page with Product Managers offering questions to think about. Some ideas emerged from other product managers in the community. Here they are:
The kind of low end devices they use, the local language personalization, product pricing, ability to express themselves on the platform and multiple similar factors. But would flip the question and ask where does their income come into the picture of the use case and how it impacts the problem, the problem could be worse or not exist at all. - Jinesh Parekh
Delivery of value and pricing needs to be appropriate with the segment of market you are serving. Example. You can't propose Mayday kind of video help desk (Amazon had on Kindles), with small business market, and expect them to cover the costs. - Gayatri Puwar
The main difference to what you may have in mind is that these workers are
a) forced to use the tools available
b) are not the ones paying for the product
In these situations I focus on 2 things:
1. Amplify their voice and figure out what the priorities are to help them excel in their positions. The C-Level often have, what I would call "Reporting blindness" - they are often very focussed on monitoring the workers before improving their work conditions. It helps to pour the knowledge of the workers into hard business numbers, to show the impact of their ideas to improve the businesses bottom line. As product managers we are in a unique position to do this, since user research and reporting to C-level helps us traverse these boundaries.
2. Since high job fluctuation is a major problem in these jobs - workers will often change employers every few months, and good workers in the segment are hard to come by - I am radically user centric.
The tools I build need to be self-explanatory, they need to have excellent error handling and be usable without errors by users in high-stress situations. A lot of business applications do not full-fill these criteria currently, but I also see a shift toward these paradigms in the industry, and am excited to be apart of that change - Rebecca Cotton
Tech savviness ... Also sometimes needing more out of the box solutions versus areas of more technological complexity, where more flexibility and customisation can be enabled. - Judy Edmonds
Another member of the Group asked: For those of you with products targeting low-income folks (in US), do you find mobile apps to have more adoption or do you have better success with web apps? A question that was replied to by Ann Morey: Mobile web usually does better with this demographic. Low income folks in the United States often have smart phones with a really limited amount of memory, so they can't have very many apps on their phones.