When your company introduces a new product, or a familiar category of product with major new features, there’s a lot of internal excitement about its potential in the marketplace. You know your new product is the best, your beta testers are excited, your developers are psyched and your marketing department has identified the most common use cases for your product and are targeting prospective buyers through email, trade shows, social media and all the usual channels. You may even notice that your beta testers are signing on, there’s a buoyant increase in trial users and a flurry of lead generation activity. So far so good! Right?
Well maybe, but chances are you’re not closing as many opportunities as you were sure you would, and you’ve noticed the early passion for your product has waned. This is why you and your sales reps and your marketing folks are pinching the bridges of their noses and wondering why these prospects can’t see the beauty of the thing you’ve created.
Well, everything you’ve accomplished thus far is exactly right, but account for naught because the often forgotten crucial next step is an absolute must to succeed. Once your company releases a new or improved product you’ve unexpectedly created a customer education problem. If customers can’t understand your product without an intensive knowledge mining effort they won’t buy it. Your intriguing new product will go nowhere because trial users and potential buyers won’t know what to do with it.
What can I do?
Your customers have to understand your product as well as you do…but in a different way. You built it and you know everything it’s capable of, from its obvious features to its superbly effective nuances. But your customer approaches your product in a completely different way. What seems obvious to you actually needs to be discovered by your user; and what may seem to be highly intuitive nuances in your product, actually requires hundreds of hours of invested usage and an uncommon level of intelligence and curiosity on the part of the user to find them. Let’s face it, we already know how smart you are, and chances are most of your customers are smart people too, but they simply can’t afford the time and effort to take that long and deep dive into your product in order for it to meet their expectations.
The challenge you have to face head-on is turning your users into experts as quickly as possible.
The fastest way to get your customer up to speed and happily adopting your product is to employ a socially enabled publishing end-point for your product knowledge and documentation assets. By pushing your product expertise to the user when and where they need it, in a format that’s easy to navigate and understand, you’ll be half way there. The next step is to allow for user feedback on your documentation and to gain the ability to measure your user’s behavior around it. This will be essential to your understanding of how your customer is using your product and the kinds of information they are looking for as well as your ability to quickly respond when your user isn’t finding the answer they need.
And lastly, add contextual help to your product. Remember, features that seem obvious to you actually require discovery on the user’s part. You can nurture that discovery right inside your program, by making contextually relevant information when and where they need it without having to leave your product.
A socially enabled help site combined with contextual help will accomplish more to turn your users into experts in one or two visits than a hundred phone calls, emails and support tickets. Furthermore, it will do more to turn prospects into paying customers by differentiating to your product against the competition’s through your demonstrated dynamic commitment to their success with it.