“I Want it Now”: Making Self-Service Win in an Attention Economy

20 years ago I was in a management class where they taught me the classical linear customer-buying model called AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It suggested that customers went through a linear process and to take advantage of that we had to first grab their Attention, and then somehow spark their Interest in our product (or service). After that we needed to create a Desire within them to own our product and finally convert that desire into an actual Action (that is to get them to buy our product). My professor argued that according to him getting the Action part was the most difficult and we needed to focus on that the most. However, things have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. I would now argue that getting their Attention is the most difficult part of the process.

Think about that for a minute. According to Jay Walker-Smith, President of the Marketing Firm Yankelovich, we are being exposed to as many as 5,000 marketing message a day today. 5,000!! That’s over 5 every minute if we assume we have 16 waking hours every day. Customer attention is the new resource that everyone is fighting for. The "Attention Economy" is the new battleground for companies. 

This has as many implications for customer service and especially customer self-service. We have a very limited window to grab someone's attention when they come to our website to get information or to self-serve. If we are not able to serve their needs in a timely and satisfactory manner, our competitors on the web are quite literally just another click away. Based on several publications by thought leaders in this space, here are the three golden rules that could serve as good guiding principles when we think of the user experience:

a. Don’t make me think

b. Don’t make me wait

c. Tell me why I should care

Let’s examine each one in more detail.

A. "Don’t make me think."

This one is so obvious that, like common sense, it’s not so common sometimes. When a customer comes to your web property looking for an answer, don’t put the burden of thought on them. Don’t make them figure out how to navigate your rich, highly stylized and complex website. Don’t make them go through navigation trees before they hit the right page. Chances are they will just get frustrated and leave your page. No one clicks on page 3 or 4 of the Google search results — they just change their search terms. Do the thinking for the customer (by using good search algorithms, context sensitivity and design principles) and give the customer the answer directly and without effort. What made Google so different was that there was one text box in the middle of the screen on their web page — it was pretty obvious how to search using Google. They did not put the burden of thought on their customer.

B. "Don't make me wait.

Time is something that is scarce for pretty much everyone. It’s a climate of instant gratification, waiting for something is one of the most frustrating experiences that customers complain about. How do you design your page so that the customer gets what they want without waiting for it (and by waiting, I don’t just mean time spent waiting for the page to load, its also needing multiple clicks to see their relevant information, unnecessary logins required to show knowledge base information that could have been put on unauthenticated pages, etc. Customers just don’t have time and are likely to just go somewhere else and get frustrated if you get between them and their answer. Don’t make them wait and they will reward you for giving them time back into their busy days.

C. "Tell me why I should care.”

Tell them the so-what. Many times, especially people who are technologists get so excited about stuff, they want to talk endlessly about that exciting feature-functionality. While that is great, it’s not an end to itself. Feature functionality for the sake of feature-functionality is useless. It's for the greater good of either saving time, saving costs, adding efficiencies or improving some business metric or KPI that is important for the customer. Make sure you are helping them understand that. A lot of great information is sometimes unused because it’s not obvious to customers how it would help them. Help through using examples, stories, other customer references, pictures, etc. Help them understand why they should care in your articles explaining new technology. What’s clear to you may not be as clear to someone else. Help them make that connection and, again, if you do, they will certainly reward you for that.

To summarize, as customers want to self serve themselves more and more — and the time they have to spend on your site get less and less — as their attention is competed for more and more, these 3 simple principles will help you deliver for their needs much more effectively increasing the amount of people who are self-serving themselves successfully, saving them (and you) time and money and also increasing satisfaction scores all around, which are the ultimate goals of your customer service philosophy to begin with. Happy self-service!

Self-service is all about connecting your business to your customers. Learn more about how Service Cloud can help.

 

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