Seth Godin stated in his blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/10/lazy_people_in_.html) that, “You’re busy trying to sell a service or a product or an idea to lazy people in a hurry.”
His basis for this statement, which I happen to agree with, is that your prospects and clients are naturally going to jump on the first solution quickly instead of taking their time to find the right solution.
As marketers, sales reps, client fulfillment reps, etc. serving this demographic we must not only be conscious of this attitude but we must utilize the simplicity of the idea to assist us in improving our product and service offerings.
Client Fulfillment is the area of business that I work in on a daily basis. The way this theory works out in this realm is that people are going to try and obtain help services in the easiest (and fastest) manner. Many companies do everything they can to bury their phone numbers and direct email addresses for this reason instead of addressing the real issue.
The real issue at stake here is that your clients only try to call/email you if they don’t trust you. This lack of trust is certainly not all your fault, though. This lack of trust has been built on years and years of ineffective self-help tools by all companies with whom they have come in contact. Just like water, we prefer to use the path of least resistance for the majority of their activities.
In Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design, Robert Hoekman, Jr. writes about the idea that help documents are primarily for “expert” users and not “beginner” or “intermediate” user when it comes to technology-related products. This concept goes along directly with what we have been discussing here. The expert users that Robert talks about are going to be individuals who are comfortable with their ability to “find” an answer that is provided where the beginner and intermediate users are more likely not confident in their ability to do so. If a company does not readily provide this information, your phone will be ringing faster than you can say “screenshots”.
There’s really no need in asking this type of user, “Did you check our help files?” In their mind, they did. You just didn’t have the right help file in the right place. So it is our job to not only provide easy-to-use tools for our clients, but it is even more important for us to get our clients to trust that our help documents will benefit them more than contacting us directly.
Both parties win, and your product/service will be built in FOCUS (For Our Clients Ultimate Success).