Imagine you are an end user for a complicated application. You find yourself stuck - unable to finish your work because you’re unfamiliar with the operation you’re trying to perform. What resource would you turn to for help?
For most users today the next step involves a search bar – whether it’s a purpose built in house tool or the ubiquitous Google. They grab only the information they need to complete their work and move on.
Now put yourself on the other side of the table as the vendor. Is the knowledge you just gave the end user a product of just in time training or is it application support? If the content and the means of delivery are exactly the same, does it really matter what you call it?
Two Sides of the Same Coin
The only clear way to draw contrast between these two processes is the delivery timing.
Training is effectively Support that’s being delivered before users know they need it. It is the proactive introduction of information to end users before they understand enough to know what to ask. This needs to be delivered when users are learning for the first time or when there have been substantial changes in the way they utilize your products or services.
Support, delivered well, becomes both problem resolution and just in time training that happens to reinforce or refresh the user’s knowledge. It is the reactive delivery of information provided when users request it. With shrinking attention spans, it can often be difficult to recall every component of training after it’s been delivered. Reinforcing previously learned material to apply knowledge, understand a change, or resolve an issue (self-help) would fall under support.
Three Things to Consider
In the emerging world of “Customer Success”, distinctions between training and support are subsumed into the greater objective of satisfying your customer’s requirements at the right time (right now) and making it as easy as possible.
With traditional training and support models being disrupted as they crash into one another, it’s important to start thinking about how your organization delivers content to end users. Here are three things to consider:
1. Do you have the right tools? Let’s jump back to our search savvy end users. Their expectations are high when it comes to tools. If your tools aren’t as easy to use and as fast as the Google Search bar, they’re going to look elsewhere. If they’re not using your tool, is the information they get going to be accurate? Will that hurt your relationship with the customer?
At the same time, as your customer base grows, scalable and asynchronous delivery is generally cheaper to provide than a one on one interaction with the customer success team. This doesn’t mean you can skimp on content or launch a poorly thought out self-help tool. Substantial investments are still required to plan and execute or you’ll end up spending on both as users give up on using your self-help tools and call for help.
2. Is your content structured correctly? Boring, lengthy, and dated content that requires a substantial investment of users’ time is out. Short, informative, and search indexed content that is built for “microlearning” is in. Give your users what they want and nothing more.
3. Does your “training” inform your “support” and vice versa? Your model has to be flexible enough to allow a continuous feedback loop. Input directly from end users as well as reviewing trending data from your ticketing system can drive improvements and help you determine what is the most important content to add, highlight, or refresh over time. Failing to adopt an agile approach will decrease the value of the content over time.
Interested in learning more?
Ready to jump in and figure out how to better serve your end users? Check out our website at SystemsAlliance.com to find more IT Strategy and Operations insights or visit Acadia-Software.com to learn how the Acadia Performance Platform is providing critical content to drive effectiveness at organizations like Mohawk Industries and Anheuser Busch InBev.