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I recently heard an amusing anecdote about a park ranger who has an encounter with a Millennial. When asked for directions to a popular site, the ranger simply told her that she needed to head north. The Millennial then pulled out her iPhone in order to open up a GPS navigation app. To her horror she discovered there was no cellphone reception and that her app would not work. She immediately became frustrated and did not know what else to do to figure out where to go. The ranger then took out his compass and repeated that she needed to go north, pointing in the direction. This left the Millennial visitor unsettled at the thought of not being able to use her phone to solve a problem.

This amusing anecdote illustrates a micro-moment. It’s a moment when a consumer tries to solve a specific problem at a certain moment in time and reaches for a smartphone in order to solve it. In fact 96% of people use their smartphones to get things done and 87% of people turn to Search first.

For customer service to be most effective it is important to be available at the very moment a user is trying to solve a problem. Here are some tips on how to be proactive and create the most positive experience for your customer.

1. Be Accessible

In a micro moment, the most important element is for the user to readily have immediate access to a source of information. If a user is on a website, using a mobile app, or in a brick and mortar store – make sure help is easily accessible.

The last thing you want is for your users to struggle and to encounter many points of friction before they are able to find a way to solve a problem. Work with your user experience designer to make sure your help section is in a convenient location easily found within your app or website. As David Ogilvy once said: “The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.” If a user can not easily find a way to solve a problem, she will not waste her valuable time. She will either disengage with the process, and not continue the transaction, or head to a more helpful competitor.

2. Storyboard, Learn and Iterate

Storyboarding an expected user journey is a simple and effective way to try to predict user behaviour, and in doing so – map out the most salient moments when a user may need assistance. Here are some questions to help you build the predictive model.

  • Who is your primary audience? Determine the age group, income level, stage of life, or education level of your primary users. This will help you to determine how familiar and comfortable they will be with specific elements within a user interface. If you believe they will be unfamiliar, then add more prompts to assist the user. If you believe they will find it simpler, then you will not need to prompt them.
  • What are the steps you expect a user to take? Clicking an ad, watching a video, completing a form, clicking a CTA, reading T&Cs, and adding to the cart, are all steps within processes. Once you have identified the steps you would like the user to take, introduce in-app messaging to help direct the user. Also, consider utilizing breadcrumbs to allow the user to easily navigate backwards and forwards.
  • What is the most difficult or scary thing a user will experience in the process? There are always points in a buying process that cause greater friction for the end user. These factors can include concern about buyer’s remorse, or learning to operate a new and complex feature. Once these areas are identified, prepare answers and techniques to mitigate them and also make sure help is available at the right moments.

Once a list of assumptions has been made, build your customer service operation so that it aims at solving expected problems. Incorporate in-app messaging to educate users at the expected points of friction, or to guide users to a next step in a process. Prepare a list of FAQs and make them easily accessible to answer expected questions. If your expected demographic is tech savvy, utilize the technology they are accustomed to using – such as in-app chat.

Once you have an array of assumptions and have built in functionality to mitigate friction points, use reporting data to review the customer experience and particularly the interaction with customer service.

3. Make Complex Elements Simple

Search is a resource 87% of people utilize first. This is because search is easy to use, and is always available. In order to be proactive, keep your knowledge base updated frequently. Also, customer service and engineering teams need to communicate frequently in order to make sure a knowledge base is kept up to date. This can be incorporated into a sprint planning process. Also, it is important that customer service folks are able to easily explain a new feature in a way that will make sense to new users. Consider incorporating video, infographics and diagrams in order to simplify and easily communicate complex processes or features.

As Search is most often the first and most simplified point of contact, it should be made the most prominent. Next, consider user-agent chat and ticketing, and finally email and phone. Start with making the the simplest method prominent and make the most complex method the least visible. That way, you are assisting the end user by expediting requests.

By proactively managing expected outcomes and points of friction, customer service teams become more effective. Rather than constantly putting out fires, and managing customer complaints, customer service teams become an integral part of a growing organization – not only directing product enhancements, but also impacting the daily lives of each user. It’s why excellent customer service is a competitive advantage.

Published October 4, 2016
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