Customer Contact Forms: Reducing complexity is important for everyone

I hate it when I’m on a company’s website looking for help or support and I reach the Contact Us form and it stretches for miles. It makes me suspect that they are raising the bar for engaging by making me write War and Peace to submit a question or begin an inquiry. Given the huge focus on customer engagement I doubt this is actually the case. I know from having been on the other side of the form is that what often happens is that in a misguided attempt to ensure proper routing of customer requests the organization’s asks for too much information and loses the ability to effectively engage with customers.

I have included a video above with my quick breakdown of Publix’s Contact Us form which I think is a pretty good example of hiding complexity from the end user.

They do it in two ways:

1. They reduce the amount of overall information they collect

2. They hide the complexity of certain customer paths unless the customer chooses to go down that route.

For example hiding they hide information that is required to complete certain menu options unless the user specifically chooses the option. This reduces complexity and presents an overall interface that is fairly easy to navigate and understand with a low bar to customer engagement.

Of course I’d like to see it even simpler but for every piece of information that you don’t ask for up front you risk pushing users down an improper internal organizational path or delaying the handling of the inquiry. So what do I suggest? Here are the rules I try to follow when gathering customer information:

1. Gather the least amount of information you can to support the requirement in your first engagement with a customer. This lowers the bar to engagement.

2. Remember that you need to gather enough information to accomplish the requirement. This is a balancing act.

3. Hide the complexity of multiple routes to customer objectives if possible. Remember that the customer likely doesn’t know how your business works.

4. Customer choice hierarchies are bad! How many times have you waded through three tiers of drop down menus to try to find the appropriate option? Just give me one big list, I don’t know how you think!

5. Speak their language. Unless your customers are all expected to be experts in your business they need to be spoken to in a way they can understand.

6. Engage! Don’t be afraid to reach out to customers and ask them how hard it is for them to contact you or to find the information they are looking for.

This is a pretty short list that covers the key points for starting to achieve better customer engagement from your contact forms. Engage, experiment and look around. The world is full of these forms and once you start paying attention you will start to recognize how much the way different companies engage with you even in simple ways like contact forms shapes your opinion of the overall interaction.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Ten rules for developing knowledge management solutions

One of the hot topics in many organizations right now is knowledge management. Whether its in the context of customer service, business strategy, human resources, or information technology managing knowledge is a serious concern in most organizations. Whenever one of these projects or programs is getting ramped up the temptation is always there to try to create the ultimate source of knowledge and wisdom. DON’T DO IT!
K.I.S.S is the right approach for knowledge management, especially as you get ramped up. Trying to do too much out of the gate or getting overly complex is where you run into trouble.
With that said I here are my ten rules for developing knowledge management solutions:
10. Keep it simple – People want a solution, not to be impressed by your eloquence or wit.
9. Keep it relevant – People care less about why than how.
8. Keep it standard – People like consistency. It’s boring but effective.
7. Keep it short (but complete) – People don’t want to click through to many hyperlinks or read too many articles in order to solve their problem.
6. Keep it accurate – People don’t need to find very many wrong answers before they stop looking for the right one.
5. Keep adding to it – People want answers to today’s problem today.
4. Keep it small – People don’t want to search thousands of answers in search of their answer, prune aggressively and often.
3. Keep it communal – People don’t just want your knowledge, broaden your community and lighten the load.
2. Keep it measured – People want the best answers, have an approach to understanding which answers are working.
1. Keep it easy – People can’t manage these things on their own, make sure you have the right tools.

Need help implementing your Salesforce Service Cloud or Knowledge Management Solution? Try our six weeks to success approach to Six Weeks to Success Cloud Quick Start

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.