Great Design Still Needs A Help Center

Every so often when a potential customer is evaluating Nickelled, someone on their team loudly objects to the idea of layering a Nickelled guide on top of their UI.

"If you need a guide, then the design team failed at its job to build an effective customer journey," they'll say.

Maybe they have a little too much faith in their design (and their users.) Great design doesn't work alone to turn users into experts. It needs help.

Great design still needs help

Let's take Gumtree for example. We worked with them to help them create a walkthrough on how to place and ad on their site.

By any measure Gumtree is huge - 19% of the UK population visited the site in December 2014, a staggering 450,000 visitors a day. Their success is entirely dependent on being easy to use.

For some this is a daily even hourly task and no help is needed. Others don't get on the internet very often. They need more help.

Even with intuitive design and online support in place, Gumtree's support team was receiving thousands of live support requests each month. Most were repetitive.

No shame in doubling down on support

Gumtree ended up building out a series of Nickelled guides. Initially, this resulted in a modest 200 views per month.

Now they're viewed over 40,000 times per month. That's a potential 40,000 live support calls (or at least frustrating user experiences) avoided.

And all of this happens without compromising Gumtree’s commitment to building an outstanding web and mobile experience but is in recognition that different users need different types of support.

Gumtree has been able to realise these benefits by looking outside the customer experience design box and not try to solve their web process issue by constant and expensive minimal improvements to their web journey.

Instead they took a lateral jump and took a chance on adding a layer on top that would help some users and simply be bypassed by other so there is little impact on design of the core journey.

Luke Todd, Gumtree's head of customer operations explains:

We still have a call centre so our customers can call us if they have a problem, but there’s been a definite shift to live chat and self service resources like Nickelled. This is for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the new channels are more cost effective than the traditional support channels which allows us to scale the impact of our support team so our costs don’t grow as our site and usage grow.

And secondly, I believe that online customers prefer to use self-service customer support: having direct access to the answers to their questions. They don’t want to call/email unless it’s an urgent pressing issue or if they are struggling to help themselves and it’s a last resort.”

If customers love the additional support, then what's the objection to giving it to them?

Designing customer success isn't just about UI. It's about providing customers with a broad set of channels to solve their problems, including online chat, phone support, and whatever else works for them. Let's keep our opinions out of it and do what's best for them.

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