Getting Past The "Where Do I Start" Mode

July 27, 2015 Kak Varley
Providing Online Assistance – “Where Do I Start?”

Image of confused womanAs part of my role in business development, I often find that people almost always ask the question "Where do we start?" before making a change or executing their vision. People are unsure where to start so they either let the project languish or get analysis paralysis. And, when it comes to digital health it makes even more sense to ask the question, as digital assistant solutions are most effective in targeted situations.

Where Do We Start?

The first and most obvious starting point is determining the pain points like:

  • process abandonment,
  • lack of conversion, or
  • too many calls into the contact center.

These pain points can be unveiled through data and documentation such as call center reporting or Google Analytics. This data is a great way to get started. It enables a business to create a basic priority list rather than a lengthy, rambling laundry list. Combining this data with an objective eye to your website is where the magic really happens and where a solid project plan begins to take shape.

Two Key Components to Online Decision Support

image of frustrated womanWhen it comes to objectivity, allow me to let you in on a little secret. When reviewing online experiences, there are two key components that need to be top of mind- complexity and information volume.

Complexity is best defined when a company asks themselves, "Is our offering complicated when delivered via our website? Can people easily grasp the concept and find a solution to their problems?” In other words, is there a gap from what a company knows about their offerings versus what their customers understand about their offerings?

Information volume refers to how much information is being made available. Are you giving people too little or too much information at any given point during the online experience?

These two attributes are pivotal in the success of an online experience.

There was a time that 'engagement' meant keeping a visitor on a page for as long as possible. Complexity and a mass volume of information were great ways to make that happen. At the time, this practice was acceptable because the public was naturally intrigued by newness of the Internet. Fortunately, Google changed all that when they provided information in a rapid, highly accessible manner.

Minimum vs. Maximum Time Spent

Now, engagement is something completely different. It is no longer about maximum time spent. It's about minimum time spent. Things have changed in such a way that it requires companies to get visitors quickly to information, while providing an acceptable level of satisfaction.

Imagine a person returning from their lunch break with 15 minutes to spare to select their health plan. They log on to their employer's enrollment portal and begin the process of signing up. The first few pages are easy. They are asked simple questions about their zip code, birth date, dependents, household income, and so on. Then they get to the 'compare plans' page (or shopping page), and they are hit with a volume of information and complexity that shocks, just as if they had looked directly at the sun.

More than likely, that person surrenders because there's too much information for them to make a decision, and they will close out of the enrollment portal altogether. Back to work they will go, until another time.


It’s not enough, however, to add a video to the site as a way to address complexity or information volume. That just increases the time spent figuring out a problem. I call these “distractributes” because they just distract the consumer and break the flow of their experience. A solution must not only be interactive, but it must be real-time.

Have a look at this video example so you can get a visual representation of what I mean by interactive and real time. You can also see here (at .55 seconds) what I mean by addressing information volume; how online assistance in the form of an avatar can provide a sufficient level of education, engagement and encouragement to get a person through a complex process like choosing between health insurance plans.

Connect for Health Colorado Intro to Finding a Plan

I cannot reiterate enough that it takes an unwavering amount of commitment to practice objectivity. Put yourself in the consumers' seat, and understand where complexities and information gaps truly reside. I can assure you that once you've identified these places on your digital environment, it becomes very easy to determine what your first task should be on the priority list. 

And that is where you start.


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About the Author

Kak Varley

At CodeBaby, I am responsible for a large regional enterprise sales strategy that works with those companies investing in their digital strategy to improve online customer experience, drive conversion objectives, and improve online self-service initiatives -- while reducing customer service costs. My favorite part of the job is knowing that I am an integral part in solving business challenges.

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