There's nothing like experience

In celebration of our 200th issue, I wish to share with you two articles I remember vividly. A few years ago, I was working as knowledge manager in a communication organization and found myself facing a new challenge: writing for the company website and being responsible for the website's service area. During this period, the organization opted to apply the 'self service' approach in order to enable the customer to receive service at any time and place without having to wait or depend on a representative. This approach was considered at the time revolutionary and is now implemented by many organizations who "share" the information with the costumer thus enabling him/her independent conduct.

This might sound like a simple step, yet it led to dilemmas and challenges regarding the website's Knowledge Management:

How does one make the knowledge simply, easily and comfortably accessible for our customers?

Should the company website and KM system present the same content?

 

What can we do in order to bridge the gap between the organizational language and the customer's language and terms? The content must obviously be based on the customer's point of view, since the customer does not encounter these service situations on a daily basis. Furthermore, the math in this case is pretty simple: our goal is to promote usability on behalf of the customer by providing a quick and effective solution (since the customer is most probably impatient). This should be done by offering concise information which does not involve stages or complex issues, reflecting the stages the customer will experience in order to coordinate expectations and promoting a sense of capability to easily reach the solution. Otherwise, there is a risk that the customer will abort the page and the loss will be double: the customer will call customer service and she/he will refrain from using the website as a means of service.

While searching for a course of action, I stumbled over two articles which helped me formulate my plan for performing this task: "psychology in the field of design" by Ella Entes and "UX in the real world" by Maya Fleischer.

 

Psychology in the field of KM

This article discusses the challenge organizations face which essentially a dilemma is regarding the manner in which companies can reach and convey their message to customers. Nowadays, in an age which features many means of communications and forms of media, it is still important to remember our objective as an organization:

To be there= to exist, to make our customer community a faithful one.

 What makes a website one that communicates with its target audience, one that conveys the message the organizations wishes to get through and develops a community of faithful users? The basis for any website is human behavior, psychological responses to situations, information, colors, shapes and messages.

Hereby are a few ground rules I derived from the article:

Creating trust=providing customers with security, enjoyment and curiosity regarding the future.

Creating a recurring pattern= content patterns, the user usually has an easier time dealing with known and familiar content.

A recurring use of pictures in order to enhance the concept and message we wish to convey.

People's reading pattern= people don't really read, they scan the page.

UX in the real world

One of the dilemmas, as I mentioned above, was the need to bridge the communicational gap derived from organizational and professional terminology. This article demonstrates how to bridge this gap through User Experience (UX):

A product is "conceived" due to a need and an aspiration that this product will indeed answer the final costumer's needs. Yet there is a long road from the initial need to the final product can substantially affect a product's success. As knowledge mangers we are required to present solutions for rising needs. The manner solutions are presented is important and helps simulate the real product. Therefore, our approach to the solutions we suggest should be as serious as the final product.

The article presents several advantages of visual presentation: our customer will have an easier time understanding our precise intention (unlike words which can be more freely interpreted); an image similar to the actual product will lead to expectation coordination; we can perform an early usability test; we can locate additional needs or discard redundant elements before we invest time and money in the actual product development; we can converse in a common language with our customer; a customer's enthusiasm towards visual presentation is usually high and leads to his/her connection to product implementation; we (knowledge managers) are perceived as more serious and professional. How true!

An intelligent use of these tools can generate a positive UX and can help sell the product. In some cases, the linguistic gap can be bridged-over through visual means thus coordinating expectations and creating a common language.

In conclusion, I have no doubt that these articles can be of great service and assist in other dilemmas we face as knowledge managers. When I faced a new challenge, they certainly helped me to focus my approach and preferred course of action, although the road is never ending as is the journey.

 
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