Improving User Help and Support – Digital Transformation Insights from Eric Eaton - Part 3 of 4

Posted by Asif Rehmani on Jan 21, 2020


image_insights from Eric Eaton part 3 of 4

In our latest Q&A webinar, Eric Eaton, an IT guru with 20 years of experience, specializing in SharePoint implementation, governance, and adoption, outlines better ways to provide help and support to SharePoint end users. Here is the section of that part of the webinar.

Listen to the full recorded Q&A webinar audio below.

If you need help in getting your colleagues to use SharePoint to the fullest, select the option that best suit you here.

The questions and answers

Doing ticketing differently


We talked about ticketing before and mentioned that it is often quite frustrating: people don't know who is on the other side and it almost feels like a barrier. Is there a way to do it differently?


There is. We went about it very differently. We didn't get rid of tickets. There are some things that really make sense for them. There are some things for the standardized requests and it's a system of record. There are lots of reasons corporations use the ticketing system. They are not evil in themselves. The problem is when you use them for absolutely everything and you make somebody go through this arbitrary process that's too complicated. It becomes a barrier to entry.

So, we kept tickets at Visa but we didn't make people do that every time they had a question about something. Instead of calling it “support” we started calling it “help”. Just calling it a different word made a big difference in the perspective on it. Because, from an IT perspective, “support” is this very structured thing that probably involves tickets, and queues, and teams assigned to queues, and different tier levels, and all that kind of stuff. Whereas, “help”, “I have a problem, I need somebody to help me. Either fix it or answer and tell me what I'm doing wrong with it”.

Hosting Q&A sessions during office hours

One of the things we did that had the biggest effect is that we started scheduling a weekly office hours section. We did it once a week, we did it around lunchtime, so that it is less likely to be during a time when somebody had a meeting going on. We just put somebody from our team in a conference room and on a Skype bridge and then we started evangelizing that.

Through the week, when people would email us, or call us, and ask us something, our default answer was: “that's a great question, would you mind coming to our office hours event tomorrow, and then we can just talk about it live. I think probably in ten minutes we can solve that instead of spending two or three days going back and forth over email”.

Users loved it; they absolutely loved it.

What we discovered is that we wound up having a lot fewer calls with people because our users loved knowing that there was this time when they could come every week and they could just ask questions. So, we got a lot fewer interruptions during a week, we got more done and the users felt like it was more tactile for them, it was something that is less abstract. They didn't have to go through this invisible queuing system and not have any idea where their ticket went and wait until the end of the service level agreement when someone had to answer the ticket and then they tell us that it was wrong. We just stopped doing that.

We still used tickets for what it made sense. By doing this, we found that users were very content to write their questions down on a post-it note through the week and then they would come talk to us during office hours. Ten minutes talking with somebody, we could fix something for them or satisfy their curiosity or show them how they were doing it the hard way. That made a huge difference.

We started getting all kinds of people asking for sites.

It was easy for them to be more productive with it, instead of just struggling and hitting their heads against the wall. So, it was easier for them and it was easier for us too.

One thing that surprised me about it, I thought we were going to have scaling problems with it and that we'd wind up with a long line of people waiting. It was only an hour every week that we were doing it. We did start getting a line of people but we never once had anybody complain. They would sit there on the Skype bridge and they would listen to the questions other people were asking and the answers those people got, and they were perfectly happy to wait their turn because they're learning the whole time.

It was really a success story.

Making use of VisualSP, a contextual help system


What about Chat bots? Or other instant help tools like hotline? Do they make things easier?


I do think anything you can do to cause less obstruction for the end users, anything you can do to lower that barrier to entry, I think chat bots can be part of that. Another way to go about it is using a system like VisualSP, a contextual help system.

The idea is giving help in small chunks so that people don't have to go search trying to find it, making it so readily available to them in some way.

At Visa, we also had VisualSP. That's where I first came in contact with it. I used it. And we would use VisualSP as a way to kind of spoon-feed some of this help information. Some of it was out of the box and some of it was custom stuff we created. I found it was really helpful because the idea is that you want to make it easy for people to find help. The more effort they have to put forth into finding help, the less likely they are to do it.

You also need to make it small bite-sized. We've got a bunch of Microsoft adoption specialists who will talk about that. One of them uses the word “snackable”. You give somebody a long page to go read, it's from TechNet or something, I mean, that's great if you're from IT and you've got that level of interest. But most people on the business side of things don't have that level of interest, “I'm just looking for how do I do this one thing, this one thing that's stopping me from accomplishing what I need to accomplish”.

My comments

The point of user support is to remove barriers to usage of the deployed digital tools. If the process of helping users is barrier in itself, digital adoption success is unlikely.

Simplify your ticketing process and keep the usage only to the type of help requests that absolutely need users to submit a ticket. Schedule Q&A sessions during office hours, at least once a week, and answer questions from the users. This engaging human way of providing help enables more resolutions in shorter time. It is also an efficient training approach that yields greater learning outcomes for all users in attendance.

When help and support for end users improve, your IT team works less. And, digital adoption moves forward.

To automate help and support for end users, install VisualSP, a plug-and-play addon application that allows you to overlay help items over their respective features, pages, and windows. VisualSP delivers help to a user at the moment of need, at the exact moment of completing a task. Submitting a help request ticket or searching the web for help is not needed.

To see VisualSP in action, request a free live demo here.

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