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User experience best_practices_for_wss


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User experience best_practices_for_wss

  1. 1. USER EXPERIENCE BEST PRACTICES FOR WEB SELF-SERVICE Web Center of Excellence©2009 RightNow Technologies. All rights reserved. RightNow and RightNow logo are trademarks of www.rightnow.comRightNow Technologies Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. 9007
  2. 2. USER EXPERIENCE BEST PRACTICESFOR WEB SELF-SERVICE TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction .......... 1 Ten User Experiences (UX) Best Practices for web-self service .......... 1 1) Make it easy to find .......... 1 2) Make it easy to use .......... 2 3) Understand the issues your customers have .......... 4 4) Provide clear and readable content .......... 6 5) Offer multi-channel choice .......... 7 6) Iteratively optimize based on customer feedback .......... 8 7) Measure the performance data of the site .......... 9 8) Deliver a contextual and personalized experience .......... 11 9) Ensure it is accessible .......... 11 10) Cultivate and reward good customer behaviors .......... 12 Conclusions .......... 12 References .......... 13 About the Author .......... 13 Copyright .......... 13 About RightNow .......... 14
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION The document presents a series of customer-centric recommendations to help you deliver a world-class customer experience by ensuring that your Web Self-Service (WSS) offering is performing to its highest potential. RightNow has experience with more than 1700 customer implementations of WSS. Through this extensive experience, we have seen a number of patterns arise; a second purpose of this paper is to help you avoid common mistakes that might seem like a good idea at the time but are more complicated than they first appear. We encourage you to think about WSS in terms of a long-term sustainable commitment to your customers achieved through continuous refinement and improvement. We’ve found this approach will allow you to reap the largest overall reward, as it will serve as a competitive differentiator for years to come. Successful customer experiences are multifaceted and it often takes organizations years to fully mature to the point where they can reliably deliver amazing results. With that said, there are significant short term and immediate benefits that can be had from following the best practices outlined in this paper and empowering your customers with self-service. TEN USER EXPERIENCE (UX) BEST PRACTICES FOR WEB-SELF SERVICE 1) Make it easy to find It may seem obvious, but if customers cannot locate a self-service area, then functionally it doesn’t exist! This lack of find-ability will not only frustrate customers, but will also increase the use of more expensive assisted channels such as the phone. We’ve heard horror stories of disgruntled customers using services such as Get Human ( to bypass bad support sites entirely, or worse, causing brand devaluation by Tweeting or blogging about their bad experience for the world to see. One customer even told us that he got so frustrated with a certain electronics company he once faxed his service issue directly to the corporate office fax number for investor inquires. Apparently the executives at the corporate office were much more willing to help than the agents in the contact center. To maximize the possibility that customer will find your WSS features, we recommend the following: ·· Integrate WSS into the Information Architecture (IA) of your website. This should be done by placing a link or button to support/contact us that appears prominently on most or all pages of your general website. You will likely need buy-in from your Marketing department to do so. ·· Design WSS so it matches your larger corporate presence and feels like a continuation of the larger web experience. 1 www.rightnow.comShare This
  4. 4. ·· Invest resources into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for major web search providers (Google, Bing, and Yahoo). This is critical. One study found that 65% of web searches start at Google [1], bypassing large elements of your site’s navigation or search. ·· Make sure support pages are indexed and ranked in your overall site search so that support content shows up these search results. ·· Use caution in obscuring phone numbers and other contact information. We recommend offering multi-channel choice and a consistent experience across these channels. See best practice #5 for more information. ·· Ensure that knowledge in your Web Self-Service (WSS) knowledgebase is properly optimized for easy information retrieval. Check out the RightNow Customer Community or ask Pro-Services for more information on this topic. For more information on this best practice, we recommend you check out our Best Practice document on Knowledgebase Optimization [9]. Once customers have located WSS, they will then need to interact with it in order to achieve issue resolution; this leads us to our next recommendation. 2) Make it easy to use Companies with the highest WSS success rates and greatest ROI are ones that are able to make consumers feel self-confident, assured, and empowered with self-service. The usability of WSS is thus critical to its success. Displaying a large amount of information to customers will just overwhelm and make them feel helpless. When in this psychological state, a customer is more likely to try and ‘Get Help’ by seeking a more expensive assisted support channel. To help improve the usability of WSS we offer the following recommendations: ·· Focus on design simplicity. ·· In general, WSS is ephemeral – users don’t want to learn how to use your site. They just need to use it to resolve the issue at hand and get on with the more important things in their life. ·· An 80/20 rule often applies for WSS – 80% of visitors are seeking only about 20% of the content. Place this 20% of content prominently and you’ll have a big bang for your screen real-estate buck. ·· Design for “probabilities not possibilities”. Instead of trying to offer every possible choice to a customer, focus on the probable actions which are most likely to help them. ·· Allow customers to visually select their support category by offering a series of product images or icons (where product-specific support content is appropriate) as the starting point to their service experience. 2 www.rightnow.comShare This
  5. 5. Figure 1: A visual product selector that allows customer to restrict knowledge by product or category (Image courtesy of ·· Users are likely to remember an email address more effectively than a “username” when returning to a site after a period of absence. Keep this mind if you require a login. ·· Leverage the wisdom of crowds to direct customers to the best content. One way to do so is by dynamically generating a list of Frequently Asked Questions. A second is by automatically linking to “Answers others found useful” section at the bottom of individual answer pages. ·· Focus on simplicity! Did we mention that already? It’s so important it’s worth repeating. Making things simple is harder than it seems [2]. 3 www.rightnow.comShare This
  6. 6. FIGURE 3: Focus on simplicity! Image courtesy of Stuff That Happens by Eric Burke [6] Usability goes well beyond the design of your site – if that design doesn’t contain functionality that truly helps the customer, then again it will go unused. In order to avoid this issue you will need an accurate understanding of the tasks you offer with WSS; this brings us to our next best practice. 3) Understand the issues your customers have Resolution rates for Web Self-Service are largely determined by an organization’s understanding of the problems that their customers frequently need to resolve. Organizations that have a deep understanding of these issues are able to structure their WSS experiences to help customers resolve these issues by achieving their goals for the interaction. Based on extensive user and market research, RightNow recommends that in addition to any customer goals you identify which are specific to your business (see also best practice #6), you also understand that customer goals for WSS can ultimately be distilled to two objectives. ·· Find Information: The customer is looking to self-serve and wants to locate some information or perform a function which will help them to do so. ·· Get Help: The customer feels they have a problem which can’t be resolved with self- service and they need a knowledgeable human being to assist them. These two user goals must be acknowledged and ingrained within your web support experience. Information that satisfies the ‘Find Information’ goal should be the primary content on the page, but ‘Get Help’ goal states should also be visible. Burying them will only further irritate customers who have a goal of ‘Get Help’. There are often times when the use of assisted support experiences (Get Help) allows you to achieve greater revenue by increasing selling/cross-selling/up-selling, First Contact Resolution (FCR), conversion rates, or Customer Lifetime Value by offering VIP service to high value customers. 4 www.rightnow.comShare This
  7. 7. RightNow has conducted eye-tracking on several WSS designs. We have found that the order in which contact channels are presented has a direct correlation on the frequency of use for each channel. To encourage use of a specific channel, place it at the top of a list: Figure 2: The top of this list receives greater frequency and durations of customer eye-gazes. During a recent eye-tracking study, we also examined the order in which customers look at page elements in the November ’09 reference implementation – note that the “Contact Us” area is consistently the last area that customers look at on the page. If a customer with the goal of ‘Find Information’ locates an element they feel will assist them with their goal, they may continue their journey directly from there and not even see the contact us region. 5 www.rightnow.comShare This
  8. 8. Figure 3: This visualization shows the order in which customers view elements on the page. Lastly, it can be tempting to build a self-service experience based on how internal departments or existing workflows are structured. If this delivery does not match the “mental model” of how the customer thinks about your world, this will only confuse them. Customers simply don’t care about your company’s internal structure - they just want to resolve their issue as painlessly as possible. Even if a customer locates WSS, and it is usable and contains content that is applicable to their issue, it STILL doesn’t mean that customer will be able to successfully self-serve. This brings us to our next Best Practice. 4) Provide clear and readable content Ensure that your content is easy to read (written in plain language, without jargon) and to the point. Web users are notorious for quickly scanning and flipping between pages, trying to quickly locate the “information scent” of the knowledge they are after. Breaking up content with graphics, visual diagrams, videos thumbnails, bullet points, and inline bolded text to enrich your content sometimes has the effect of forcing the user to glance at these elements when scanning the page and this will increase their engagement. 6 www.rightnow.comShare This
  9. 9. Content is often overlooked in terms of its importance – this is a big mistake, and good content is absolutely critical for a good experience. We recommend that unless you have a particularly technical or educated target audience of customers, you make all of your content readable at no more than an 8th grade reading level, such that the average 13 or 14 year old can make sense of the information. There are a variety of free online tools available to check reading scores for web content, but we particularly like the Juicy Studio tool available at: readability.php Following these content guidelines will not only help with the effectiveness of your content, but will also make it easier to translate content if you are serving a customer base across several languages. Visual material and diagrams often do not need translation. For additional content Best Practices, please see our publication on this topic in the RightNow Customer Community [6]. 5) Offer multi-channel choice Offering a unified experience across multiple channels is not only important to the customer experience, but can also has impact your bottom line. Consider the nature of each channel when determining where it can be used most effectively. ·· Web Self Service - Facilitating and directing interactions that are low in complexity (but high in volume) to WSS will result in high self-service rates. Customers are able to resolve their problems quickly and effectively and the organization is able to build the customer relationship while saving significant costs. ·· Community – Leveraging the collective intelligence of customers allows the organization to provide a whole new dimension to WSS. It may be surprising how willing customers are to help their peers and collaborate on problem solving, especially because this is frequently done with minimal involvement from the supervising organization. Community functionality is also perfectly suited for high- volume, low-complexity issues. ·· Chat – This channel provides a powerful way to either “break into” the customers’ thought process through a proactive notification, or more passively provide a helpful channel for the customer to engage in when they are ready. Real-time interaction with the customer provides an effective way to improve sales by engaging customers who are at risk of abandoning a shopping experience, as well as engaging other high value customers who have been identified with behavior targeting or other analysis methods. ·· Phone – While this channel is the most expensive, it also provides unparalleled first contact resolution (FCR). High-complexity but low-volume problems are best suited for this channel and customers with this type of specific issue should be guided to this channel. ·· Email – This communication channel allows for asynchronous communication between customer and organization. This style of interaction is useful for low- priority, low-complexity issues and provides the customer with the ability to respond when it is most convenient for them. 7 www.rightnow.comShare This
  10. 10. ·· Assisted Browsing – While not strictly a support channel by itself, the ability to directly take control over the user’s computer can greatly reduce handle time on both the Chat and Phone channels. This mechanism also assists in achieving maximum FCR. ·· Click to Call Back – This is not strictly a channel by itself, but it provides the ability for a customer to schedule a call at a convenient time for them rather than wait on hold. Caution should be used to make sure that this feature is offered in customer- centric terms and not organization-centric terms, but scalability benefits for the organization are also achieved by flattening the peaks and valleys of incoming call traffic. When offering true multi-channel choice, we recommend integrating live wait times with your WSS Customer Portal – this allows a customer to quickly understand which channel has the shortest wait time, and can help act as a dynamic load balancer if one contact channel’s queue starts to get too long. It also allows you to creatively encourage use of certain channels (see also Best Practice #10). Figure 5: Channel wait times integrated and displayed on WSS Lastly, British Telecom (BT) makes excellent use of multi-channel choice by automatically guiding consumers to only the appropriate channel types for their issue type. See the BT Contact Us area at: 6) Iteratively optimize based on customer feedback In order to provide a superior customer experience, it is important to have an intimate understanding of the audience served and detect and take action when there is a change in that behavior. There are many different methods to gather customer feedback, below is a high level list of these approaches. ·· Surveys (CSAT, Net Promoter, WAMMI etc.) ·· Web analytics and search logs ·· Customer feedback on individual answers ·· First hand customer interviews and focus groups ·· Usability testing and collaborative design 8 www.rightnow.comShare This
  11. 11. There is no “one right way” to understand and empathize with your users, so information may come from a variety of sources. Companies that take the time to continually measure and improve their WSS experience based on customer input are ones that most effectively achieve their business goals. We have found usability testing to be one of the most powerful measurement tools available to understand the customer experience and we recommend the excellent (and short!) do-it- yourself usability testing book by Steve Krug, Rocket Surgery Made Easy [3]. There are some new startup services (Loop11, UserZoom, TeaLeaf, Clicktale, others) that offer “unmoderated” usability testing – essentially these companies provide technology which allows a simple usability test to be automatically administered remotely over the web to real visitors. This type of analysis can be very valuable and cost effective, but typically adds the most value when you already have an advanced understanding of your site and are looking to take that knowledge to the next level – it’s not something we recommend as a starting point. 7) Measure the performance data of the site The load time of an individual web page has been shown to increase the overall site bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who initially load or try to load a page, but then do not continue and view other pages on the site). Following the idea that users always gravitate to the path of least resistance, a slow, awkward WSS experience is likely to cause abandonment to a more expensive channel. This aspect of the user experience is often overlooked during web design; RightNow has taken exceptional steps to ensure high performance with both the distributed cloud hosting environment, as well as optimized display and JavaScript code that runs efficiently in a variety of browsers. Make sure that any graphics used have been optimized for the web, and that you use place multiple images into a single “sprite” where possible [7]. The use of sprites improves web performance because only a single server request is sent and then all images are returned in a single burst. In order to do a quick check-up on the current load performance of your WSS site, there are a variety of free speed check analysis tools online; for one example you may wish to run a quick check using this tool: In addition to technical performance, it is also important to measure the business performance of your WSS experience; this is often referred to as “deflection rate”. We prefer the term “self-service success rate” as we believe this more accurately describes the true benefit of WSS. A self-service session is considered a “success” if one or more answers are viewed by the user, and this session does not request use of the Contact Us area or results in an incident submission. This usage data is then used by RightNow to dynamically optimize and rank useful answers. Please note that this measure does not deterministically define a task 9 www.rightnow.comShare This
  12. 12. success – the user may have viewed an answer and then simply given up! Also note that your self-serve rate could immediately be brought to 100% by eliminating the contact us area – this obviously isn’t a good idea as the increased rate is due to false positives, rather than true positives. Figure 8: Web Self-Service Truth Table Healthy self-service rates may vary considerably, and we hesitate to give you a target number that you should adhere to. Depending on the nature of the business, we know customers who have a 20% success rate and are looking decrease their rate, as well as customers with a 90%+ rate and are trying to increase their rate. We do however recommend you keep careful watch over this Key Performance Indicator, as it provides the greatest overall snapshot of WSS. Lastly, we recommend you track the “bounce rates” for each page in Web Self-Service. The bounce rate is defined as a visitor who views only a single page. For the main “Support Home” page and other non-answer pages you should use the following measures as a rough estimate [5]: Figure 9: Bounce Rates and Classification This bounce rate table DOES NOT APPLY to individual answers. A customer who performs a web search (Google/Bing) and is taken directly to an answer page (and doesn’t look at any additional answers) is technically counted as a “bounce”. In this case a high bounce rate is actually a good thing, provided the answer is receiving positive answer feedback from customers and the “Time spent on page” seems reasonable for the amount of content on that page. For instance, if you have a 1,000 word answer with a high bounce rate (50%+) and a very low time spent on page (Under 10 seconds), you know you have an issue that needs to be corrected. Consider –rewriting the answer based on our content best practices [6]. 10 www.rightnow.comShare This
  13. 13. 8) Deliver a contextual and personalized experience Make sure to take into consideration information that you already know or can be automatically retrieved for a given customer’s current situation and state of mind. Personalized experiences build brand loyalty and can help achieve simplicity by avoiding the need to ask for unnecessary information. ·· Don’t force the user to re-enter login information when they are already logged into another portion of the site or system, and consider using a single sign-on capability like pass through authentication (PTA). You may also wish to examine the business acceptability of using a universal sign-on ID such as Google, Open ID, or Facebook. ·· Automatically populate data fields and other site information if the user is already logged in or has entered similar information on a related page. Allow them to edit or modify these fields as they desire. ·· If applicable, allow customers to “register” their product and remember this when the customer submits a support incident or visits WSS to find information. ·· Provide special contact channels or custom knowledge base articles depending on their Service Level Agreement (SLA). ·· When authenticated – welcome the customer with a personalized greeting. There are often many opportunities to provide other nice-to-have personalization options. Use your imagination and put yourself in the customer’s shoes – what little extras would help you to have a better, more pleasurable or less painful experience? 9) Ensure it is accessible Also often overlooked is the importance of information accessibility. True accessibility means support for a variety of browsers, as well as assistive technology used by people with disabilities. Good accessibility will ensure that your WSS site is able to achieve maximum reach into the market place and results in self-service task success for the greatest possible number of customers. Please note that a WSS site which is not technically accessible will provide a low or zero self-service rate for disabled individuals. These individuals will be forced to use another available channel. For instance, a blind person trying to use a screen reader to interact with the web will not be able to properly utilize your WSS site if it is not accessible, and they will then likely be forced to ask a friend to retrieve a phone number for the company and then call the company. This results in both a poor experience for the disabled customer, as well as a more expensive phone call for the organization. Proper visual design, clear use of icons, and appropriate font size helps all users, but especially the elderly and those with low vision. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the importance of usable and accessible WSS will only increase as boomer’s sight and other skills begin to deteriorate. There are several laws and standards with respect to Accessibility both in the US and Internationally. The RightNow reference implementation meets the technical requirements of Section 508, WCAG 2.0, and was developed following guidance of PAS 78. We 11 www.rightnow.comShare This
  14. 14. encourage all sites to meet these same criteria not only for ROI reasons, but also because it’s the right thing to do. For a quick and free visual Accessibility audit of your site, the non-profit Web AIM organization provides a free tool that can be used through a web browser: http://wave. 10) Cultivate and reward good customer behaviors Humans naturally gravitate to the path of least resistance. If a customer with a low complexity (and you have found to also be a high volume) interaction uses a more expensive channel such as the phone, it is likely a result of their mental model; a mental model is the way that an individual internalizes the inner workings of a complex system – sometimes these models are accurate and sometimes they are not. For instance, if a customer’s mental model informs them that the phone will be their path of least resistance it may be due to the fact that they a bad experience with WSS in the past. Taking the time to “train” a problem customer to self-serve by orienting that user with the WSS experience allows you to restructure this mental model to more accurately reflect their true path of least resistance. RightNow has found through user interviews that most users DO have a tendency to avoid the phone if possible. They often have a fear they’ll be placed on hold for an extended period of time, or perhaps will be connected with a representative who has poor communication skills or will lack empathy. Behaviorist modification techniques can also be used to remove the reward which may occur if a customer exhibits poor behavior – one way to do this is to placing a small barrier to phone usage (a short but reasonable wait time, regardless of agent availability). This implicitly establishes the phone channel as a path which is not of least resistance. Customers will learn over time they can self-serve on their own and resolve their issues more quickly and with a greater feeling of empowerment. This good behavior can be fostered with a recorded message which tells the customer about what can be accomplished through web self-service during the imposed wait time. Another example of behavior modification that we have seen is the priority offering of an assisted channel (for instance the phone) to customers who have already visited WSS. This can be accomplished by providing the customer with a reference number to enter via an automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system when they call the organization. These customers can then be taken to a special higher priority queue instead of waiting in a general queue, and do not need to explain to the agent who they are or what answers they have already looked at. CONCLUSIONS We hope this paper has provided you with some “aha!” moments in your understanding of the self-service customer experience. Depending on your circumstances, it may feel overwhelming to execute on ten best practices at once. As we mentioned in the beginning of this paper, it often takes organizations years to increase their maturity from simple 12 www.rightnow.comShare This
  15. 15. awareness of WSS concepts to practicing and then eventually growing into an industry- leading provider of amazing customer experiences. RightNow is pleased to serve as an expert guide on your journey to achieve better customer experiences, and we wish you luck in you endeavor. Let us know if you get stuck or need expert guidance along the way! REFERENCES [1] November_2009_U.S._Search_Engine_Ranking [2] development/q/id/38381/t/2 [3] [4] [5] [6] Web COE Content Best Practices Document [In progress at time of publication], will be made available on the Customer Community. [7] [8] [9] KnowledgeBaseOptimizationSteps1.pdf ABOUT THE AUTHORS Ben Werner, MS, AUXP has conducted extensive user research regarding self-service, usability, and customer centric design methods. He also holds a Master’s degree in Human- Computer Interaction from the University of Minnesota and is a board certified Associate User Experience Professional. David Fulton, PhD – is a Product Manager in the Web Center of Excellence at RightNow, and is a passionate advocate of the importance of delivering great web experiences for self-service. David regularly visits web self service sites of all shapes and sizes after buying a product or service (whether he has a question or not) to assess the quality of the user experience. He holds a Doctorate in Computer Science from University College London, England. COPYRIGHT This is a preliminary document and may be changed substantially prior to final commercial release of the software described herein. The material contained in this document represents the current view of RightNow Technologies on the topics discussed as of the date of publication. Changing market 13 www.rightnow.comShare This
  16. 16. conditions may impact the positioning and challenges faced by the consumers it the material in this document, the content should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of RightNow Technologies, and RightNow Technologies cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication. This White Paper is for informational purposes only. RIGHTNOW TECHNOLOGIES MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of RightNow Technologies. RightNow Technologies may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from RightNow Technologies, the furnishing of this document does not give a license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property. © 2010 RightNow Technologies. All rights reserved. About RightNow RightNow (NASDAQ: RNOW) delivers the high-impact technology solutions and services organizations need to cost-efficiently deliver a consistently superior customer experience across their frontline service, sales, and marketing touchpoints. Approximately 1,900 corporations and government agencies worldwide depend on RightNow to achieve their strategic objectives and better meet the needs of those they serve. RightNow is headquartered in Bozeman, Montana. RightNow is a registered trademark of RightNow Technologies, Inc. NASDAQ is a registered trademark of the NASDAQ Stock Market. Contact us today to find out how we can help you create the best possible customer experience for your customers. Our solutions: RightNow CX RightNow Social Experience RightNow Engage The Customer Experience Suite RightNow Web Experience RightNow Contact Center Experience RightNow CX Cloud Platform Be social with us: Twitter Facebook YouTube LinkedIn RightNow Blog 14 www.rightnow.comShare This