We spoke to Leila Rouhi, formerly president at Ring and now VP of trust and privacy at Amazon about Ring’s early days and the challenge of making products easy to use.
Working at Ring has been quite a journey. I started before Amazon acquired us… the company had existed about three years before then, but I got there, right around the time when our growth trajectory just really took off like a rocket ship. When I first started working at Ring I had to tell people ‘we make the video doorbells’. Now I don’t have to do that anymore.
It’s remarkable to think how much we’ve grown. We had about 200-300 people. We had one tiny little warehouse office and it’s just so remarkable to think how much our suite of products has grown over that time. We had one doorbell and one camera. So it’s really remarkable how far the company has come in a pretty short period of time.
With more products, it can become more confusing for our customers even just in terms of knowing which product to buy or how to set it up. One of the reasons I joined Ring in the first place is my parents had purchased a Ring doorbell and they loved it. And to me like a product that works for my 70-80-year-old parents is the right kind of product in the world. I think every company is trying to figure out like, how do we you know, how do we get into the home? How does smart home work? I think we all see the promise in it. But the reality is if a customer can’t understand your product and can’t use it, then it’s just not a good product.
We want our products to be accessible and usable by everybody. We put an incredible amount of effort to really ensuring that seamless experience from end to end. And that’s everything from making the packaging simple and clear in terms of what you’re buying and what the requirements are for this product to work for you, to including what you need for the installation process and having easy user guides and videos. We try to be very very discerning in that way and think about customer experience first above just having lots of stuff.
We try to optimise and make the default settings as work for as many people as possible. It’s a continual journey to make sure that customers have awareness of new features or even existing features and how to use them. You know, we do that through email campaigns through in-app screens and notifications. We added QR codes to make setup even better. That was a game-changer in terms that out of box experience. We know we always have to be looking for improvements like that because as our products evolve and we have more features, it’s increasingly complex to understand which ones to use and when.
Many smart home products are still too complex. Customers or can’t really imagine how it improves their life or what it does. Even today, there’s still too much that a customer has to do to really get the most out of their smart home devices. And we want really to have the devices do the work and that way you as a customer don’t have to worry about safety and security of your home. One example of that is radar, in our Video Doorbell Pro 2 which gives you more refined motion detection and more context in terms of what’s happening in front of your door with Bird’s Eye View.
And of course, one of the benefits of that advanced radar technology is you get more contextual motion alerts and more control over exactly what you want to receive. Other examples of that [type of feature] are advanced computer vision where you can see if there’s a package that’s been detected, or if you left your garage door open or your gate open and you can really just limit the types of notifications you get based on your personal needs and reduce the things that you care less about.
The magic of the smart doorbell is we all have a door. There are constantly people coming to your front door and people leaving things at your front door. It’s [become] more clear to customers what the benefit is. And then I think once you have like a Ring doorbell you use it in a way you couldn’t have even anticipated that you would be using your doorbell for – like I used it to talk to my parents [during lockdown]. Or you know, I have a camera outside and I can keep an eye on my dog when he’s outside and I’m inside. I bought it because of security, I didn’t think I was going to be using it for all of these other things.
Leila Rouhi is head of trust and privacy at Amazon