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    On Using Animation as a Web Support Tool

    By Ed Hurry and John Powley

    The Problem: Many of our J.D. Edwards customers have had a problem and expressed frustration with effectively and efficiently utilizing a detailed search capability over our Software Action Requests (SARs - software enhancement and "bug" requests) on our support site. We believed that if we could market to these customers with a solution that provided an innovative knowledge (training and educational) transfer experience, we could increase customer usage and satisfaction. Successful increased customer usage reduces calls placed to our support center, by making our customer more self-sufficient.

    The Solution: TechnologyHelp, Inc. (THI) came to our rescue with an innovative marketing proposal and a "sizzling" technology based marketing and knowledge transfer tool. Working closely with the highly trained and experienced professionals at THI, our knowledge analysts (subject matter experts) were able to provide detailed content that THI leveraged to create a highly successful, inventive, multimedia, Web-based, animation marketing and educational tool. This animated tool educates our customers on how to more effectively create Boolean Logic search criteria, use these criteria more efficiently, and better understand the subtleties of our SAR search capabilities.

    The Results: The innovative characteristics of this tool have made our marketing effort a fantastic success. THI surveys each user that fully utilizes the tool, and they analyze and report back the results of all usage. During each of the last four months we have had this tool available, over 78% of the users have rated the tool "quite helpful" or "extremely helpful". THI has collected detailed statistics and feedback to measure the results of this tool. Some of detailed viewing statistics for the last four months include:

    Average number of accesses per month: 3,685
    Average percentage that viewed the entire 12 minute animation:18%
    Average percentage of those that viewed the entire animation and completed the survey: 26%

    Of more interest and importance are the satisfaction and behavior modification (conversion) statistics:

    Found tutorial "Quite Helpful" or "Extremely helpful"78%
    "More likely" or "Much more likely" to use SAR search82%
    Prior behavior: "Never used", "Not useful", or "Somewhat useful"76%
    Percentage of users that never used SAR search previously22%
    Of the % that never used the SAR search previously, the % "More likely" or "Much more likely" to use the SAR search capability.96%
    (These statistics are for the fourth month of operation)

    Lessons Learned: We learned a lot from our usage of this tool. We gained objective evidence that contradicts some generally accepted industry observations and thoughts, and we gained valuable objective insight regarding the effectiveness of our efforts. Specific lessons learned included:

    1. In creating knowledge documents and tools, it is an industry recognized fact that one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the lack of time employees can devote to creating knowledge. Once we showed our knowledge analysts a sample of the animation tool and how we would deploy it, our analysts made the time to provide the detailed content. As we all know - content is king. Analysts are more willing to make time, when an exciting technology with proven results is being deployed.

    2. This entire project was a collaboration effort done remotely with THI. We were skeptical about the ability to create an effective and quality result without meeting numerous times, in person, with all the team members. We learned that remote collaboration could work well and be a great success.

    3. We knew that some of our less experienced and less sophisticated users were not proficient in using more complicated search techniques. What we learned was that by using the media and communication experts from THI, the difficult concepts of Boolean Logic could be quickly and elegantly communicated to our customers via an educational animation.

    4. Designing and implementing effective surveys is not an easy task. THI used their experts and their web hosting tools and infrastructure to create, process, and analyze an objective user survey. We gained valuable insight we would have most likely missed (e.g. behavior modification - "conversion rate" information), if we had done our own survey. We learned a lot more by having experts create, process, and analyze the user survey results for us.

    5. The general industry observation and thought is that Web-based information gets "stale" quickly. Our results for this tool are contrary to this standard thinking. After four months of full operation, metrics remain positive - the number of accesses only dropped 13% between the second and fourth month. Our effective "conversion rates" (as discussed in note 1 above), have actually increased from 40% in the first month of operation to 65% in the most recent month. The moral here is don't take industry rules of thumb for gospel: measure, measure, measure.

    6. The industry accepted response rate for Web users completing surveys or feedback questionnaires or forms runs between 2% and 5%. We learned that if you provide a quality, value-added set of educational and knowledge transfer content, your results can far exceed these industry recognized rules of thumb. Our survey response rate has averaged 26% over multiple months.

    7. We learned that by having great content which is communicated in an innovative multi-media animation, we could motivate users to modify their behavior. What was most startling to us, was the degree to which we could "convert" these users. Of the percentage of our users that had never used the SAR search previously, the percentage of these that are "More likely" or "Much more likely" to use the SAR search capability was 96%. These are dramatic results.

    The Bottom Line: The use of this innovative marketing tool has increased customer usage of our detailed search capability, increased customer satisfaction based on actual metrics, and provided cost savings for our support organization. As we have shown above, great content communicated in an innovative way by creative experts can produce dramatic results. A big key to success is the utilization of experts to ensure you objectively measure the results and obtain useful insights and perspectives from these measures.

    Ed Hurry is Technology Solutions Manager/Global Support Services at J.D. Edwards World Source Company, One Technology Way - Building 4 - 4th Floor East, Denver, CO 80237; 303/334-0741. E-mail:

    John Powley is President of PBT, Inc., 56 Arrowhead Rd., #100, Weston, MA 02493; 781/899-8387.

    TechnologyHelp, Inc./Cinemetrix, 1254 Chestnut Street, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464; 617.630.0200. Web: