It might be as small a project as putting up a shelf, but even so, there’s a rosy glow when you’ve sourced the materials, worked out the levels, drilled and plugged the wall, and finally admired your handiwork. Most of us like to do stuff, and we see that evidence in the statistics for what happens when users have a problem with technology. Almost two-thirds try to sort the problem themselves, which is both good news and bad news.
Why good news? Well, putting it bluntly, help desks are costly. Even a problem that’s solved at the first contact can cost three or four times the cost of a user-fixed issue. If users find it easier and faster to tackle the issue themselves, that translates into real savings and increased productivity – after all, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting in a queue for a problem to work its way to the top of the pile. The issue might take five minutes to solve, but a user could face a five-hour or five-day delay. Faced with that situation, getting stuck in and providing a DIY solution can be empowering. Users who solve their own problems can see their confidence soar.
But, of course, trying and struggling to solve a problem is bad news. It puts a major dent in productivity and can harm the user’s opinions of the technology itself, turning them away from its use. And when users aren’t engaged, nothing good’s going to come out of software, whatever its potential.
We advocate a different approach because we recognise that users are actually quite smart. We know that solving their own problems helps to develop a strong culture and buy-in. By providing task-sensitive content, at an appropriate level, when and where it’s needed, we can support users through their problems and help them collaborate, manage tasks and improve business processes. We’re not taking away their initiative, their motivation or their drive by sending their issues straight to the ‘experts’. We’re encouraging them to become experts themselves. Long live the culture of DIY.