‘It’s a training issue’. ‘I’m afraid it’s user error’. We hear these justifications frequently in a customer service environment when something goes wrong. But how often should we really be attributing ‘user error’ to bad system design?
Whilst it might be idealistic to say that the right system can design-out all propensity for error, it’s certainly true that systems can be used to minimise it.
The first step in reducing error is to measure complaints. Businesses need adequate reporting of complaints and the ability to confidently diagnose issues. Root cause analysis can be used to help identify common themes.
Whilst it can be tempting to categorise complaints as having a basis in ‘user error’, think about whether the root cause is poor system design. If it is, putting issues in a ‘user error’ bucket might just be glossing over more fundamental issues in your process.
How can good system design help reduce ‘user error’?
Invalid data entry or missing data
Is your system permitting users to enter data in the wrong format? Can users submit records without entering data in fields that should be mandatory? Are users selecting options and entering data that isn’t relevant to the case or type of record?
Salesforce Validation Rules can make fields required and can prevent entry of data that is not compatible with a defined rule. For example, if the validation rule allows a number between 1-10, it will prevent entry of a value of ‘11’. These types of rule can also be dependent on other fields or the seniority of the user, making the application of validation rules very effective at controlling the quality of data.
Incorrect calculations or logic
Are users expected to calculate totals or grade records? Are they expected to remember different client preferences? Manual calculations can be an opportunity for error. Salesforce enables users to define calculated fields based on complex formulas, or a series of formulas. Think about all ‘freehand’/editable fields in your system. Is there a way to drive a value, based on data that already exists in the system?
Templates and automation
Does a certain type of customer request or input/event always require the same action or series of actions? If so, Salesforce Process Builder can be used to automate the process. Process Builder can be used to send templated communications, send internal alerts, create tasks and create or update records based on field changes or customer online requests. If processes aren’t suitable for full automation and require a judgment call, Salesforce can make it easy for your users to initiate a process with a button click.
Providing training materials in context
Are ‘training issues’ arising in your organisation on a regular basis? Is there a gap between the knowledge of senior team members and new starters?
Most organisations provide training on a periodic basis. We teach our users once, or once every six months and expect them to retain that information. For some, it’s difficult to understand and remember everything. Your team supervisors can become overrun with questions; or worse, your team members guess the answer to their own questions.
With Salesforce Knowledge, teams can create and share Knowledge Articles and display these in the context of certain records. Article creation can follow a process to ensure information is correct and Articles can be updated as necessary. Users can be presented with ‘suggested articles’, based on the activity they’re completing within the system.
Salesforce Knowledge moves organisations away from expecting users to know and remember everything. With contextual hints and suggestions, it’s like having a supervisor shadowing your team members all the time.
Agile development using Salesforce
Moving to Salesforce applications, or optimising Salesforce applications for your business can help design-out error in your organisation. There’s nothing more frustrating than compromising customer relationships by repeating the same mistakes; especially if they seem easily avoidable.
It’s not always reasonable to expect team members to work to 100% accuracy; but you can apply that expectation to an IT system. That’s why organisations should be constantly evaluating processes and determining whether work that’s carried out manually would be better automated (or at least partly automated).
With Salesforce, users can quickly make those process changes. Salesforce users aren’t beholden to software developers and protracted development timetables; they can take an agile approach to designing out error. Many Salesforce organisations look to make monthly or quarterly releases to improve their systems and will look to their teams to propose and ‘upvote’ development changes; giving front-line users the ability to influence the priority order of improvements.
For more information about developing or customising Salesforce applications for your business, contact us using the form below.