First contact user assistance

One of the more interesting trends in UA is the use of a customer email broadcast to provide Getting Started tips. After a person buys a product or subscribes to a service the vendor sends out an HMTL email message with Getting Started tips. When these kinds of messages are done thoughtfully I think they can be extremely valuable.

Apple does a really good job with this. I made online mail orders for both the iPad and iPhone 4. Before I received either product I received a Welcome note by email. The mail message was not cluttered with any sales garbage. It was pure user assistance.

The iPhone message told me where to find the User Guide on the device and provided links to videos about four topics. Each of the topics was useful in learning about the new phone. Quick scrolling, saving images from the web to the device, selecting wallpaper, and creating a playlist. The email also offered a free phone conversation with a tech support person to explain the new Facetime feature.

After subscribing to the Pandora music streaming service I received a message with a useful tip that described how to “seed” songs or artists to have more variety in a play list. Other tips pointed to a support blog and supplementary resources about artists.

Each of the tips was less than thirty words. The point of user assistance mail is to help the user begin working with your software with a positive experience. You don’t want to drive your new customer into a bottomless pit of arcane documentation.

The cost and ease of implementing a campaign like this will vary from organization to organization. There is generally a small financial cost to emailings. The construction of the email could be done in a day. The most critical part would be designing the message to be action-oriented and really helpful. However there can be expensive customer satisfaction costs if the emails are filled with notes about upgrades and add-ins. These emails should not be connected to sales and marketing campaigns.

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