Use Community to Encourage Self Service

I was speaking today with a friend/colleague about their project to try and get people to use a support website for technical help rather than call the help desk. She asked me how they could get people to use the website instead of call in. People will call in if the help desk is really helpful. For example, I have Apple Care for my Mac. They are usually very helpful. I’ll pick up the phone and call them. But when I have a problem with my HP laptop at home, I’ll do anything to avoid calling the HP help desk (not at all helpful). I’d rather go online and search on my own. But then comes the next interesting question. Which is better? the vendor tech support site or searching on google? Definitely searching on google! Support self-service works well when the user can direct the search… they can refine the search parameters and when the search results have enough detail so the user can see if they will be useful, including telling a story.

Recently I searched for a problem I was having with Powerpoint on my Mac. Entering my search query into Google, I quickly found someone who wrote a story that sounded just like my story. Sure enough, when I looked for more details I discovered they were having the same problem, and they wrote back in with the solution!

Community forums seem to be the best way to get support help. Using the idea of social validation, people will often trust others more than they trust experts these days (especially true of the millennial generation). Really the model is that people are their own expert. They in fact are not searching for someone to give them an answer, they are searching for the “nugget” of information told in a story format from another person — the nugget that will give them a hint, an “a ha” moment that will result in figuring out the problem and the answer on their own. If you want to encourage self service, use community and others stories to encourage people to solve their own problems.

What do you think? Help desk or vendor support site or community forum from google? Which do you find most helpful?


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6 Replies to “Use Community to Encourage Self Service”

  1. Help desk or vendor support site or community forum from google?

    All three! It depends on the problem, but the solution often starts with Google. From there, I may get sent to, or, or another forum.

    If I have a question where the answer will lead to more questions, and I know the product’s help desk is at least decent, I’ll start there.

  2. I’ll agree with google searching. I always start there because I have a very low frustration tolerance (meyer-Briggs ENTP traits) and like to find solutions on my own. You never know what you will discover, maybe a better solution. I especially hate chat where I really feel no one is listening, just pasting in pre-written answers.

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