The designs for the MVP have been handed off to the development team for work to start during the last week of May 2020 with anticipated production release at the end of June 2020. Analytics has been built into the Support Center for continued observation of user behavior and trends.
Offering Manager: Amit Patel
Project Manager: Jackie Ferguson
Development Manager: Chong Lee
Development: Hao Guo + Huy Doan
Content Designer: Kent Hall
Researcher: Mallory Anderson
Designers: Mina Adame + Missy Yarbrough
Primary Skills Utilized
wireframes + sketching
user research support
What’s the current support experience like?
IBM Cloud users across all account types struggle to receive the support they need in order to be successful in their everyday roles. Sadly, it is not an uncommon story to hear about the phantom support case that received no response for months at end, leaving users in frustration at the profound quiet.
The current relation with our users can be related to the notably-digital trend of “ghosting” 👻 in which users are lured with fascinating concepts and yet curiosities and cries for assistance fall flat with agonizing silence. Needless to say, this lack of attention leads to a dire state of a rather strained relationship in which our users are understandably considering an escape plan to eject from this dismal experience.
Unbeknownst to our beloved users are the frenzied activities that are happening behind the scenes. Overwhelmed support engineers are faced with hundreds of unanswered support cases with the daily expectation that they’ll continue to grow. There are only so many hours, minutes, and seconds in the day that can be utilized.
Gather Previous Research and Revalidate
Because of the extensive history our design colleagues have had with the IBM Cloud Support team since 2016, we revisited previous assets including Usabilla feedback and Medallia data to see what had changed.
+ Addition of a chatbot scoped to address billing and account-related issues
+ Consolidated IaaS and PaaS teams to support a unified IBM Cloud experience
+ FAQ library
- No unauthenticated support experience
- Overwhelming amount of email notifications (that eventually register as spam)
Reviewing the history enabled a conversation with our dedicated researcher to initiate an end-to-end usability evaluation for the entire IBM Cloud ecosystem that will progress throughout the remainder of 2020.
Evaluating Based on Usability Heuristics
In order to define a baseline understanding of the state of the IBM Cloud Support ecosystem, our squad denoted existing bugs of the existing production state of 10 different use case scenarios. Moreover, we included notes highlighting improvements based on Jakob Nielsen's 10 general principles for interaction design.
Identified Bug Severities
Level 4 Severity x 4: Critical/Imperative fixes this before product can be released
Level 3 Severity x 21: Major usability problem that are important to fix and should be issued high priority
Level 2 Severity x 18: Minor usability problem that should be given a lower priority
Level 1 Severity x 35: Cosmetic problem only that need not be fixed unless extra time is available on project
Low Fidelity Assessment
By visualizing each page with their listed respective functionalities, I was able to assess the as-is landscape, identify key differences, and suggest catered views between the free vs. paid support user.
Free support user flow
Free support users should consume self-help materials before creating a case. Organize the functionalities of the Support Center to support this objective.
Paid support user flow
Lots of money is devoted to dedicated premier support services. Organize the Support Center to reflect urgent tasks such as Most Recent Cases and Open a Case first.
Align with the Business Needs
We targeted the following areas in alignment with our OM's goals for the immediate quarterly release cycle:
Case agent message feedback tool
Assessment of the end-to-end flow of a case creation
Enhancing the case description functionality
Improving case routing
Iterations + Feedback
By rendering quick low-fidelity flows, their visualizations made it much easier to navigate conversations around our design explorations/potential proposals to stakeholders and IBM Cloud Support users.
Create a case
Find answers to technical issues
Attaching a resource to a case
Bulk attaching resources to a case
Carbon V10 visual enhancements
Case description templates
Watson insights (recommendations)
Visual hierarchy and restructure
Non technical self help answers
Case agent message feedback tool on Manage Case page
What did I learn?
When meeting chaos for the first time, collect as much information as you can gather. This investigation helped uncover behavior patterns, potential ideas, or reusable concepts that were applied to the resulting strategic design decisions. We managed to reduce churn and initiate/revalidate user research efforts while juggling an adjacent priority.
Being human hurts at times, but it doesn't hurt to be human. While the team's dynamic was a little rocky at first, we worked through it by addressing the core concerns upfront and proposing actionable responses.