Look around and you’ll find that companies with the highest web self-service success rates and greatest return on investment (ROI) are ones that are able to make their consumers feel self-confident, assured, and empowered through self-service. The usability of web self-service is critical to success.
Displaying a large amount of information to customers will just overwhelm them and make them feel more helpless. A customer will more likely try to get help by seeking an assisted support channel that is more expensive for the company. To help improve the usability of any web self-service, follow these best practices:
- Focus on design simplicity
- Keep in mind that customers frequently do not use web self-services. Customer do not want to learn how to use your site, they just need to use it to resolve the issue their experiencing.
- An 80/20 rule often applies to web self-service: 80 percent of the visitors are seeking only about 20 percent of the content. Place the 20 percent of content in obvious locations and you’ll get a better result.
- Design for “probabilities, not possibilities.” Instead of trying to offer every possible choice, focus on the probable actions that are most likely to help.
- Help customers select their preferred support category by offering a series of product images or icons as the starting point of the service experience.
- If you require a login, keep in mind that users are likely to remember an email address more easily than a username when returning to your site after a long period of time.
Usability goes beyond the design of your site, if the design doesn’t offer functionality that truly helps the customer, it will go unused. To avoid the mistake of design without function, you will first need an accurate understanding of the tasks you offer with web self-service.
When you understand the problems your customers frequently need to solve, you are able to structure your web self-service experiences to help customers resolve these issues by reaching their goals for the interaction. Extensive user and market research reveals much about the goals of customers using web self-services.
Customer’s simply don’t care about your company’s internal workflow, they just want to resolve their issues as painlessly as possible. Remember that even if customers are able to functionally navigate through your web self-service, you need to ensure that your content is easy to read. Enriching your content with graphics, diagrams, video thumbnails, bullet points, and inline blockquotes often has the effect of forcing the user to glance at these elements when scanning the page, and this will increase their engagement.
Content is often overlooked in terms of its importance and this can be a huge mistake. Good content is absolutely critical for a good experience. Unless you have a particularly technical or educated target audience of customers, make all your content readable at no more than an eighth-grade reading level, such that the average 13 or 14-year-old can make sense of the information. There is a variety of free online tools available, like http://www.readable.com, that checks reading scores for web content.
Following these content guidelines will not only increase the effectiveness of your content but will also make it easier to translate content if you are serving a multilingual customer base. The more complex the language is in your content, the more likely it is to be poorly translated or misinterpreted, particularly by automated translation tools.
There is no doubt that the web self-service content and services of today’s typical organization are in need of improvement. Depending on your circumstances, it may feel overwhelming to adopt these practices all at once. It often takes organizations years to increase their maturity from simply being aware of these concepts to practicing them and then eventually to growing into industry-leading providers of amazing customer experiences.
Achieving better customer experiences will build brand loyalty; leading to increased sales, making the investment well worth it.