Cross-Product Support Modal

Background

In 2010, RightScale had only one product, Cloud Management. RightScale had a single, basic support modal.

In the following years, RightScale developed several new products, including Cloud Analytics and Self-Service. We also created a newer, more comprehensive documentation site. As part of their MVP, the products did not contain any way to contact the RightScale support team with issues and questions. As time went on, customers began to complain about the lack of contact form. In addition, our support team now had a new backend system, as well as alternative contact options that were not reflected in the old form.

Old Support Modal

Old Support Modal

Project

I personally began to push this feature enhancement based on the customer and internal feedback outlined above. My goal was to create a unified support modal across our product portfolio.

To begin the project, I performed the following:

  • Interview key internal stakeholders on the support and product teams.
  • Competitive review of similar UIs and services (e.g. 1st and 3rd party contact forms).
  • Review of previous customer feedback in our wiki and notes.
  • Interview additional customers to better understand their needs.
  • Investigate and prototype with Zendesk, the new support backend, to understand technical needs.

Design

Initially, I investigated whether a prebuilt solution could satisfy our needs. In particular, I explored the Zendesk built-in widgets, as well as some 3rd party JavaScript contact forms. Unfortunately, every option I tried had significant issues. The Zendesk widget was far too limited in terms of UI interactions, while 3rd-party solutions had issues integrating with our Zendesk backend. In the end, I determined that we would need to create our own support modal that could communicate with our backend through the Zendesk API.

After determining the necessary technical issues, I proceeded to inventory the features that customers and internal stakeholders had requested for the support modal. These included:

  • A contact-form that would file a Zendesk ticket, along with information about the user, product, and page that the user was on.
  • Additional contact links, including phone numbers, email addresses, and links to our live chat.
  • Links to the relevant product documentation pages.

I also noted that this would require further efforts to unify the product headers so they would have the same interaction to trigger the support modal. I led discussion with the design leads on each product team, and eventually outlined a final header that would be used across the products.

Once this was determined, I designed a basic support modal in Axure RP, complete with interactive elements. I then too the modal out to internal and external stackholders to get feedback, and refined the design. Because there were many internal stakeholders in several departments, I created a Wiki page to host additional comments and conversation. Once stakeholders had weighed in, I got final approval from the department heads and worked to prioritize development with the product and engineering teams.

SS Support Modal Axure Prototype (Animated)

SS Support Modal Axure Prototype
(click to see animation)

Development & Release

Unfortunately, this product lingered on the product backlog for nearly 6 months. Part of the difficulty involved coordinating with three different engineering teams across our product portfolio. Some people asked for a simpler form, but based on my research I believed that this was the best fit for our customer needs. I continued to push for it, and had one of our UI designers create an HTML template for the UI. Eventually, I was able to get enough development time to implement the back-end calls for the Zendesk API for one product, and we were able to ship the support form, to the delight of customers and our support team. Other products are currently in development, and should be shipping soon.

New Support Modal

New Support Modal