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Getting Help should be as easy as 1, 2, 3

Last week, we looked at best practices to engage customers with your app right from the start. This week, we’d like take you through what happens when the shine wears off and your users need to contact you because they’ve encountered problems in your app.

When humans run into a problem, their first instinct is to try to self-serve their problem, failing which they then search for help. Most app developers are so focused on building a great product that they forget the most important feature of the app – a help function for customers. And unfortunately, many apps that do not provide an easy way for users to get support. They hide it so far within the app that it’s almost impossible for users to discover it.

1. Help should just be a touch away.

Simple’s banking app embeds their customer support section in the tab bar of the app and it almost acts as the primary feature of the app. For a banking or an m-commerce app where transactions are the first order of business, this model is extremely beneficial as customers can talk to someone on the support team immediately. This accelerates them through to making transactions.

The Pros: Discovering help is really easy for customers.
The Cons: This requires you to dedicate a slot in the apps limited primary navigation for help/support.

2. “Shake” to get help is an interesting interaction model that apps can exploit.

Google Maps does a great job with the “shake for feedback” feature, which makes reporting an issue or sending feedback easy to access in the app. Users don’t have to traverse a menu to get access to this section of the app; instead shaking the phone prompts the feature to immediately appear on screen. This action also automatically captures a screenshot of your current Google Maps screen to give Google context for your feedback.

Pro: No need to dedicate any interaction in the visual UX.
Con: Initial discovery by the user. False Positives – shaking the phone while using the app will trigger the help screen which could be misleading.

3. Managing a customer’s expectation about your response time is key to success.

If the logistics of booking via AirBnB don’t go according to plan for a user, offering an urgent phone support options is a smart idea. Setting a user’s expectation with an SLA for replying to emails allows them to self-evaluate if they have enough time to use the email option as opposed to getting a quicker resolution by phone.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve come across any other examples of apps that make contacting support easy for customers; we’d love to see more. Next week, we’ll look at some apps that allow customers to efficiently serve themselves for most common and well-known problems with searchable FAQ’s.

Published June 21, 2013
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