The benefits that come with using SharePoint are fully dependent on sustainable deep-and-wide usage of the platform. To that end, companies increase efforts to help employees master their tasks and utilize the platform to the greatest extent. Typically a help desk system is built and a dedicated user support team is appointed; to help employees master the platform, a help site is created and a training program is launched.
In many digital workplaces, despite the implementation of these initiatives, IT teams still receive a burdensome number of support tickets. Besides costing companies too much money, the constant flow of help requests costs IT teams too much time, reducing the overall productivity of the tech department.
What if there was a way to have the user support work done automatically, if not all the work, at least as much of it as possible!
Where would you have your IT team put all the freed-up time?
Wouldn't it be advantageous to automate the user support workload and have your IT team focus on other important tasks such as fixing broken things and developing better solutions?
There is a way. First, let's look at the most commonly taken approach.
Too many steps can be a barrier
If you have attended a training session before, you know just how much information you forget 24 hours later. Actually, most people forget most of what they learn within just days. This explains why companies see no substantial reduction in support tickets submitted by end users even after multiple training sessions.
If the goal is to reduce the number of daily help requests, relying on training programs is not the best strategy.
Help sites have limitations as well.
Providing end users with a repository of answers from frequently asked questions is a simple way to save time for your support staff. It is much more efficient to share a link to the answer than to type an answer every time a question is asked. Also, help sites can be used as knowledge portals where everyone can find and contribute help items.
Although providing a repository of help items to end users reduces help requests slightly, much more can be done. This is mostly due to the number of disruptive steps in finding help on the help site.
In addition to having a lot of time wasted looking for help, an end user can get stuck and choose to contact the helpdesk.
First, they have to click on another tab to leave their work environment and get to the help site. Some end users may find this disruption inconvenient enough to justify submitting a ticket. Also, as such disruptions multiply, the end user may choose to fall back to old and familiar tools and processes, giving your IT team even more work to do on user adoption.
Second, they have to search for the help item using a keyword. It's common that an end user may use a broader keyword and end up with a larger list of search results. The prospect of having to go through the results tend to prompt end users to just submit a ticket and wait for a reply from their IT team. In the meantime, the disruption affects productivity.
Third, they have to navigate search results in order to find the information they need. Some of this navigating involves scrolling up and down; clicking here and there. After opening 2 or 3 help items and scrolling a few times, an end user has to find what they need; if they don't, submitting a ticket is the default next step.
As you can see, at any of these steps, the end user can stop and opt to submit a ticket instead.
This is how help requests become overwhelming despite access to a help site, taking valuable time away from your IT team, time they can use on tasks that only humans can do.
Hosting a help site in SharePoint may help but not enough to minimize the workload of processing end users help requests.
The good news? Innovation has brought a way to automate user support: embedded help items.
The power of embedded help items
There is one top rule for online marketers; "Any additional step between 'buy now' and 'submit' is a potential barrier to conversion rate". In other words, once a website visitor clicks on "buy now", it is detrimental to add unnecessary links to click and form fields to complete; any step that you add may make a prospect change their mind and not complete the purchasing process. The same principle applies to helping SharePoint end users.
To make sure that there are no additional steps between a SharePoint workspace and a help item, innovation gave us contextual help systems, sometimes referred to as digital adoption platforms. The technology allows you to embed help items directly to corresponding features.
For example, a screen-capture video tutorial on how to share a document is embedded in pages where a document can be shared; a set of "create a site" walk-thru bubbles are embedded in pages where a team site can be created; an annotated screen-shot on how to create a list is embedded in pages where a list can be created; etc., all within the SharePoint interface. All it takes for an end user to view a help item is 1 or 2 clicks. You can even set up help items to display automatically.
- This allows end users to get help instantly and continue with the task at hand, all without the need to leave the SharePoint work-space and search the help site or the web for tutorials.
- When the in-between steps like searching and navigating are removed, the likelihood of getting stuck and having to submit a support ticket is reduced to almost zero.
- With a help item embedded in each feature, there are no barriers to being able to use SharePoint. Anyone can use the platform without prior training and without the need to seek help from the IT support team.
- Contextual help systems drastically reduce the number of support tickets and free up IT teams from the burden of training and helping end users. When support tickets in the queue are minimal, IT departments find more time to concentrate on solving problems and developing solutions.
Besides setting companies on the path to successful and sustainable SharePoint user adoption, using a contextual help system, such as VisualSP, makes IT teams much more productive.