When it comes to providing help and support to users, SaaS applications can offer 2 kinds: proactive and reactive. Proactive help aims to provide answers and solutions before a user encounters a problem. In doing so it aims to head off confusion and cognitive dissonance before it happens. In contrast, reactive help aims to respond to issues the user has encountered. In this article we provide an overview of proactive help including the scenarios where proactive help is usually applied, the different types of proactive help and some tips on how they should be applied. When applied well proactive help should build the user's trust in the product and the people supporting its deployment. Users will then leverage these in order to build competency and become power users of any SaaS application.
What is Proactive Help
Proactive help aims to deliver answers at the first available opportunity even before a user has embarked on their usage of a solution and any accompanying problems. It can be implemented in a number of ways such as training sessions, instructional overlays, contextual help, tooltips and more. Proactive help’s goal is to familiarise users with the features of a software. Generally speaking, this occurs in 1 of 3 scenarios:
1) New users coming on for the first time.
2) Users encountering a new feature on the same platform.
3) Users encountering an existing feature that has been redesigned in an update.
While some ways of implementing proactive help are through human agents such as trainers and customer success/support officers, many aspects of proactive help is automated as part of the SaaS solution itself.Collectively they contribute to the process of user education and upskilling.
Push vs Pull Type Interactions For Proactive Help
Proactive help can be loosely categorised into push type interactions as opposed to pull type interactions. These are divided based on whether they are contextualised for the user’s needs at the moment of help provision.
Push type interactions provide help that is not generalised and not contextualised to a user’s goal. In this sense they are “pushed” onto a user irrespective of the user’s present inclinations or goals. One example is when notifications are pushed to the user upon their log in to inform and educate them on new features that have been released. Push type interactions may sometimes be ignored by users because it is not currently part of the task or goal they hope to achieve.
On the other hand, in some specific contexts push type interactions are useful for the user. Some examples include:
1) Upon a UXUI Update/New Feature Launch, to notify the user and offer them the option to learn more through learning material or to leave it for later.
2) For new users, railroading all new users into an onboarding flow designed to help them reach activation events with minimal fuss to demonstrate value.
Pull type interactions provide help that is contextualised for the user’s needs and are relevant to the task at hand. They are triggered when the user has embarked on completing a task and are designed to provide timely information. This requires an understanding of user behaviour on your platform in order to determine when they have embarked on a specific task.
A typical example of pull type interactions are tooltips or contextual instructions. These are usually short pieces of text that explain and direct attention as needed. Placeholder text in editable fields is a great example of such interactions. The type of field input already predetermines that the user is in the midst of a workflow, placeholder text can guide this interaction to minimise usage friction.
Tips For Deploying Proactive Help
Proactive help in general should be kept short and to the point as they will be delivered to users who are at various levels of competency. Proactive help that fails to be timely, informative and relevant may prove to be more of a hindrance then a help and thus short and direct writing minimises this risk while achieving the goal of providing support.
Where possible, the option to skip proactive aid should be given to users. This engages their sense of autonomy in taking control of their learning. Users may get frustrated if they are already familiar and don’t feel they need the help. Options should be given to re-trigger such aid manually if required at a later stage where users may realise they are lost and can use some help.
In engaging via proactive help it is useful to bear reference to the 3 principles of Autonomy, Relatedness & Competency. Autonomy is the freedom to make choices that aligns with your values rather than being forced to do things that are dictated by others. Relatedness refers to feeling supported by others and that they are understood. Competence means that someone can successfully succeed when engaged in a task. Designing proactive help around these principles can help users develop trust that proactive help is of assistance rather than a impediment. A fuller article on this is provided here.
If you are interested in using proactive help via in-application walkthroughs check us out at Usertip or follow us on Linkedin for more tips to drive user adoption. Usertip is the first Southeast Asia digital adoption platform designed to help scale your onboarding, training and support for digital solutions. Operating from Singapore, Indonesia and Australia our no-code platform delivers in-application walkthroughs directly on your digital solutions. Seamless user experience and on-demand learning are all delivered to your user’s fingertips within seconds. Click here to find out more.