Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Will products ever outdate Online Help and be Innovative?

Huh? From Management to Online help, never an easy journey... I speak because I am completely pissed off setting up my machine with a developer environment and do some pair development with my kids.. (Thanks to @rishanimates for setting up a version of eclipse on my machine that works) . So I use one of the most popular mobile development platform, dump the SDK so i can get a fresher work on some idea and then he gets stuck... we refer various online help manuals and example's available together and believe me.. what we need is what we don't get... so then a manual of 10K pages is in front of me and I have to refer to it to find that one piece which probably is not even listed there... moreover I also have to find the right word in context so I can get to the relatively closer contextual page... The whole process takes me ages and I am still left with no answer...

While doing this I am constantly reminded of Google's early year acquisition [Vark.com], a bot , a service that lets me ask questions and get answers socially. Now imagine if your users asks questions within your product and get answers to them from within your product users??? well you don't need to build a unused piece of constantly maintenance needing element.

Well the day is not far... when I was reviewing a Harvard Business Archive article on How to Stop trying to delight your customers I came across Virtuoz .. a virtual agent that answers basic questions and reduces the load of your Customer Services... of course increases your loyalty points with your customers... but then why not take a step further... instead of maintaining a data of support queries... why not let the community build this data and questions? of course with a view of moderated answers?

Here is how I think it would work....

1. User adds a bot to his IM or sees a link on your application.
2. He hits it and asks a questions
3. A bit of AI and it sorts a lists of matching questions asks to confirm
4. Meanwhile goes in the back end and fetches a response to some of the answers a preview of which is up to the user to select
5. Both questions and answers are stored.
6. Admin piece to moderate and update the Questions and Answers database
7. 2nd Version to let user select an option of product area or type of question and then guides to appropriate question and answer.. like a IVR that you face on phone when you call your banks, Airline etc

Hmmm sounds yummy... then is it a question of how much time to build? well with the options available it looks to be a sweet deal... Google App Engine of course...

Have a look at XMPP Driven mechanisms I maybe the last one to think that this can work best for several products... but it sounds real and value driven...

Looking for a fresh mind to help me do this... Are you ready?

Now do you think you can enhance your help files and be more interactive with your customers... make them feel like they are getting help real time?