Recently, leading behavioral economist Dan Ariely and Common Cents Lab\u00a0invited\u00a023 major fintech companies to discuss using technology to increase people\u2019s financial well-being. Attendees included everyone from well-known giants like PayPal and Lyft to the quickly expanding Etsy and NerdWallet. As a selected mentor, my role was to help my mentees understand and apply this framework to their own products.\r\n\r\nBecause any business can benefit from knowing how to remove barriers for users, here are some tips on how to improve your own service offerings:\r\nBe Specific About the Action You Want Users to Take\r\nWhat exactly are you trying to get them to do? Not what goal are you trying to reach, but what specific behavior or action do you want users to take?\r\n\r\nFor example, a specific action for the users of these fintech companies might be to pay off $100 of their credit card debt balance each month on payday and not the more generic goal of improving their credit score.\r\n\r\nWhen you\u2019re answering this for your own business, bypass vague outcomes in favor of specific and measurable ones.\r\n\r\nDon\u2019t say that you want users to:\u00a0\r\n\r\n \t\u201cImprove users\u2019 credit scores.\u201d\r\n \t\u201cEat healthier.\u201d\r\n \t\u201cHave greater retention on our app.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhy? These goals are too vague.\r\n\r\nDo say you want users to:\u00a0\r\n\r\n \t\u201cPay off $100 of users\u2019 credit card debt every payday.\u201d\r\n \t\u201cEat salad for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays.\u201d\r\n \t\u201cLike photos, upload photos and comment on photos in your app.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhy? These goals are specific.\r\nTake A Walk In Their Shoes\r\nLook at what the user has to go through along his or her journey. Can you see any places where they might drop off? What can you do to either remove or reduce that barrier or showcase the benefits of overcoming it when the user gets there?\r\n\r\nSome ways you can remove common barriers:\r\n\r\n \tPre-populate.\u00a0Pre-populate\u00a0the enrollment form with data you already have so it\u2019s easier for users to finish.\r\n \tReduce the number of options.When there\u2019s an overload of choices, people give up. Keeping it simple keeps the momentum.\r\n \tImplement transparency of process.When you just can\u2019t avoid having a lengthier process, let users see how far they\u2019ve come and what percentage is left. This can feed into a sense of commitment\u00a0and consistency.\r\n\r\nEase the Way\r\nUnfortunately, as companies in the world of finance are discovering, some barriers take more effort to remove. For many of these users, the biggest barriers around money are the perpetual struggle between \u201ccurrent me\u201d and \u201cfuture me.\u201d That is, users know they have debts to pay off and may even have good intentions to do so. But with so many other temptations around, it\u2019s not always easy to stay the course.\r\n\r\nOne technique considered with my mentee, Debitize, a company that helps people use their credit card more responsibly, was to ask users to pre-commit to automatically using their tax returns for paying off credit card debt. By shifting how we think about a sudden windfall, we can make healthier choices about finances.\r\n\r\nThe key to helping users avoid backpedaling and giving into the demands of \u201ccurrent me\u201d is to set it up so that as soon as their refund money hits the bank, it\u2019s automatically applied toward paying off their credit card debt. In this case, no pain translates to more gain.\r\n\r\nOne of the biggest takeaways from the fintech conference that I\u2019d like to share with you is also an obvious one: These behavioral science interventions are not static, set-it-and-forget-it measures. Since it is a science, it does require testing. To know which interventions are yielding results and which ones need adjusting, you need to run experiments and do some A\/B testing. But whatever your field or your level of commitment to scientific testing, it\u2019s critical to understand what it\u2019s like for your users along with their journey. What steps can you take to remove barriers? The more you can ease their way, the likelier it is they\u2019ll stay.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America\u2019s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.