Provide Self-serve Help to SharePoint Users – Digital Transformation Insights from Eric Eaton - Part 4 of 4

Posted by Asif Rehmani on Jan 27, 2020


image_Insights from Eric Eaton 4 of 4

Eric Eaton, our SharePoint adoption specialist, has shared great lessons-learned in our latest Q&A webinar, among them is the absolute necessity of giving end users a way to get help instantly, without the need to search the web, scroll through a document, or ask someone.

You may also listen to the full recorded webinar below.

The questions and answers

Searching for help


You can learn anything on Google and YouTube. But sometimes you got to spend a lot of time to do it. Like with a SharePoint question: you've got your question, you type over, you may not be calling it exactly the right thing; so, you may have to do a few tries before you finally come across the right stuff. And then you've got to figure out the person that's writing it, first of all, “do they know what they were doing?”; second of all, “were they using the same version I'm using?”; and thirdly, “is what they're describing something I'm allowed to do in my environment?”. You can learn it but it's hard.


Yeah. Honestly, I even wonder … well actually I know for a fact, many times, I talk to users. They don't even know they’re using SharePoint. It's just “this is our intranet”, “this is what it is”. They won't be going looking for SharePoint functionality for what they're struggling with, which is a business solution that was built on top of their intranet, their portal, which just happens to be running using SharePoint.

So, when you have these many layers of “I don't know”, “I'm just looking to see how I can do this XYZ thing, which is, maybe, an expense reimbursement form that I need to fill out in this library, that's all I know”. How do I go searching for that? Who do I ask for help? That's when people get frustrated; they don't know what to search for, where to search for it, who to ask, then just give up on it or just ask somebody else to do it.

Asking for help


Yeah, absolutely. I mean there is a certain subset of users that will always want to ask somebody instead of doing it self-serve. But a lot of the people I've worked with over the years, they are smart people and they would rather not feel stupid. So, they would rather not go bug somebody to ask if there was some easy way for them to find an answer on their own. The problem is most the time there's not.

For years and years and years, Microsoft has had lots of good “how to” help type information; the problem was you only ever found it accidentally. If you actually needed an answer right now, it was incredibly difficult. That's why nobody, for years, clicks on the question mark button in Word or Excel, because it's so hard to find what you're looking for. You forget it's even there.

Getting help without searching or asking

So, you've got to find some way to … it's a radical idea but … to actually be helpful for your users. What I found in my experience in IT before is that that part was less than it should be. We're expecting people at the end user level or the power user level to care enough about the tool to be willing to go do the research and to find something and do it. And the HR person wasn't hired to become a SharePoint person; they were hired to do HR things. So, they only care about SharePoint and usually enough to accomplish what they need to accomplish.

So, you’ve got to find some way to actually be helpful. Some of that is the human way things like office hours Q&A sessions, little brief webinars that you record and make available for them later, it's having a contextual help system that shows you the things that are relevant to what you're working on right now. That makes a huge difference.

Once people have one or two good experiences with a self-serve help solution, many of them will try to go use it again.

You've got to find a way to take away the searching from people so that they've got a good chance, with one or two clicks, of finding an answer.

My comments

If you want your colleagues to use SharePoint and other deployed digital tools, make sure that help is either automatically visible or viewable at a click or two.

Many end users don’t have the level of interest or motivation to search for help or read lengthy help documents. All the want is a quick tip that shows them exactly to complete a task that they working on.

Place help items exactly where they apply. Over 200 organizations are using VisualSP for that function. As a contextual help system and a digital adoption platform, VisualSP gives you the ability to overlay help items over relevant windows, pages, and features of an application, right within the interface.

With help always being available in-time and in-context, people are able to use SharePoint even if they don’t know; they are able to enjoy a friction-free user experience with the platform. In the process, the user support burden on your IT support team is removed, digital adoption is achieved, and digital transformation is assured.

To see VisualSP in action and start a 30-day trial, check out this live demo.

If you need help with getting people to actually use SharePoint, check out the options here.

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