5 Modern Consumer Expectations About Product Help

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According to The Pew Internet and American Life Project around 48% of technology users usually need help to set-up new devices and software, or to show them how they function. Without a quick and easy means for consumers to access relevant documentation and product help, the experience often leads to impatience and frustration and, for some, ultimately product abandonment. The more consumers struggle with a new product the likelihood of widespread adoption decreases enormously.

Although nearly 75 % of consumers of digital devices and software consider themselves tech-savvy and express a preference for trying to solve their own product issues, here is how most did it:

  • 38% of users with failed technology called user support for help.
  • 28% of technology users fixed the problem themselves.
  • 15% fixed the problem with help from colleagues friends or family.
  • 15% of tech users were unable to fix their problem
  • 2% found help online

Sydney Jones, co-author of the report says ““In an age in which new technologies are introduced almost daily, a new gadget or service can become popular well before the technology itself is understood by the average user. Naturally, some users catch on to new technology more quickly than others, and those who have more trouble grasping the technology are left confused, discouraged, and reliant on help from others when their technology fails.”  Furthermore, when polled about their support experience, a full 40% say they felt confused by the information they were getting, and 48% felt discouraged by the amount of effort needed to find a solution.

Its consumer numbers like these that are increasingly driving companies to place product help at the forefront of their customer experience strategies. Some of the most successful companies at leveraging product help into good customer experiences are HTC, Autodesk, SuccessFactors, Fujitsu, PayPal, and Intuit. The reason these companies are so successful at transforming the product help experience into a brand building and customer loyalty strategy is because they offer an engaging self-service portal to their customers that are highly effective in these 5 areas consumers have come to anticipate as part of their experience:

1) Usability: Your site must be easy to navigate and powered by an adaptive search engine that surfaces highly relevant information to your customer along with other meaningful collateral information that deepens the expertise of the product user.

2) Feedback: You need to know how engaged and satisfied your customers are with the information, help and documentation your providing them. Offering the opportunity to the customer to offer feedback around your product gives you the opportunity not only to engage the customer when they need help, but also provides a stream that feeds continuous improvement of the customer experience.

3) Active Brand Participation: Users of your self-serve community have to know you’re actively listening to them and paying attention to their needs in your support channel. Although your customers may be served well by your documentation or your user community, you’ll magnify the consumer experience by actively participating with the community, recognizing and rewarding productive participation, even if it’s only to acknowledge a members contribution toward solving another’s problem.

4) Analytics: Having continuous visibility into the performance of your self-serve community is a must to drive continuous improvement while keeping your customers’ needs in focus. It’s also essential because often the early warning signs of support hot-spots will surface within your analytics, enabling you to respond quickly and directly. Analytics will also provide actionable information regarding your customers’ sense of product fulfillment and provides a means by which to tune into and respond to consumers’ desires for certain product features or improvements.

5) Friendly Guidance: There will be times when either your documentation or your community won’t have the right answer or your customer simply needs someone confident to guide them through a crisis. When this happens your customer needs an escape route directly to your support team. This can be via phone, email, or live chat.

By meeting consumer expectations with these essential elements in place, any company can and will improve their customer experience marks, and create a community of engaged product advocates in place of a large group of frustrated and under-served customers likely to defect to another brand.

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