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In April of 2015, Neuralytix conducted a survey of members of the Salesforce Power Users Group (SFPUG) in order to ascertain the type of resources members used to solve problems they encountered with their Saleforce.com products. The survey examined two types of problem:
- Technical problems or problems associated with the functioning of the software. For example, the inability to access Salesforce.com or missing data.
- Operational problems or non-technical problems associated with the operation of the software. For example, optimizing a process or finding a better way to accomplish a task.
An analysis of the 170 responses shows an interesting pattern. Generally speaking, members of SFPUG preferred to use online, web, and other impersonal resources over those that involved a interacting with another human being. Even when using online resources, members of SFPUG preferred methods that minimized interactions with other people.
The most common responses when power users are asked where they look for help with technical problems were Salesforce.com’s online resources and then, other online resources. These are the type of help where solutions can be found without an encounter with another person. The next most common response, an internal technical resource, requires more human interaction but represents a relatively safe social situation since these are people paid by the respondents’ organizations to provide help and are internal to the company. After that, the attractiveness of the help resources diminish as they become more people-oriented and external.
Even within the online resources, videos, search engines, blogs, and message boards rate the highest number of responses over social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In both cases, power users gravitate toward resources with little or no interactions with real people. Even crowdsourcing solutions through social media is clearly less attractive than resources less reliant on contact (including virtual interactions) with other people.
A similar pattern was observed when asked where power users look for help with operational problems. The first resource power users accessed was the Salesforce.com help resources followed by online resources and asking an internal resources (a statistical tie). Once again, external human resources, especially VARs, were the resource of last resort.
It is clear that Saleforce.com users avoid getting help from other people and prefer self-help. Controlling for job functions the patterns are the same for IT and technical professionals versus business users.
There are a number of reasons that this may be the case. In-person support often involves non-productive waiting time and, sometimes, additional costs. There is also a psychic cost to calling on another person for help. Wishing to avoid embarrassment or feeling stupid is a compelling reason to try self-help over in-person help. This explains the tendency to sidestep even free resources such as asking a friend outside the company for help.
Whether an ISV or in-house IT help desk planner, it is important to keep in mind that end-users may actually prefer self-help over in-person options. Even when there is no additional monetary cost to the end-user, there may be time costs and psychic costs that make good self-help preferable to calling a support line or even crowdsourcing a solution.
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 Psychic costs are a subset of social costs that represent the added costs of stress and similar factors.