If you’re lucky enough to have gotten people into your application do everything you can to support them there. Do not make them go looking for support if you can answer questions there and then.
Sprinkling little “info” buttons around the application is a great way to give people snippets of “what’s this” as well as to send a signal that you want to support their understanding and use. Never miss an opportunity to project that understanding – nor the need to keep this sort of thing up to date. If you make people puzzle things out or go elsewhere to find support around essential interface features – you might as well show them the door.
Access to help
Giving users access to help articles and tips within the application is important. It is no longer enough to ask people to go search for answers or opening an enormous user guide they have to navigate. Taking users out of the software is a mistake a lot of technology companies make. Users have questions that relate to their needs and their use of the application – they care little about the technology or the whys and wherefores of your application. They care even less about your business model and where you draw the line around what is in your job description and what is not. In other words – go out of your way. It pays off.
Some of the most effective support layers I’ve seen is those that have integrated their helpdesk conversations in the apps. Most take it out to email or onto the desktop. Creating a layer of communication in the app with a support rep – as well as making that thread/conversation easy and intuitive to find is genius and well worth the effort.
When creating support mechanisms understand that you want people in your app – you want to make it easy. Put support at their fingertips and stay there. If they are accessing your support from the app then they are using the app – don’t encourage them to leave you.