READ THE MANUAL
July 2, 2015
We have lived through many generations of helping users learn, use and engage in our software, so they get more value from what they have purchased, improve their user experience, and are more satisfied with our offerings.
Users want more. They always have.
The days of reading manuals seem far behind us. We want to engage our users in our applications. And we want to be able to measure whether we are providing the value customers want. We want that conversation with our customers and we want those insights to improve our products.
Like most of us, what they really want is the information they need, when they want it, as they want it. Think of it as in-app assistance. What’s that? Imagine messages or ‘guides’ for your end users, real-time, in your own application. These guides can actually drive the behaviors that matter to you, announce new features, provide in-context help, and so much more.
Before we dive into real time in-application guides, let’s back up and understand a little more about what customers want and how you want to help them.
In order to best engage a customer working in an application, you need to know who they are (what their role is), when they last visited that part of the application, and other information. Equally important is that sometimes you want to interrupt the user and sometimes you don’t.
Some in-application messages are needed for global announcements (new releases and features) and catching a user’s attention (scheduled maintenance for your app). Some are great for highlighting a specific element or feature. You may even want to group these messages or guides together to create a ‘walkthrough guide’ that helps tell a story to a user. Stories are important for engagement. Why? Stories are encoded in our DNA from the first cave paintings over 27,000 years ago to the novels, movies, and Youtube offerings, toasts at a wedding or sitting around a campfire. Science is proving that something organic happens in our brains when we are being told a story. In short, by grouping these in-app messages and creating stories you can educate users about your product and help them get more engaged.
We have come a long way since manuals and telling our customers to read them. We want customers engaged. In this era of instant and pervasive interpersonal communication, engagement through online dialogue helps customers relate to your company or brand. The key to establishing a positive relationship is to demonstrate that your company cares about the same things its customers care about. And doing this right inside your product is one of the keys.