If you’ve created a software product, or an app, or a product with a bit of a learning curve, or really anything that might confuse or cause issues with your customers, it pays to have a Help/FAQ section of your site to address those problems and concerns. According to Zendesk, 91 percent of customers would use a knowledge base if it met their needs — but therein lies the problem.
Many companies attempt to make a knowledge base, but have no idea where to begin; the end result is often a muddled-together, indecipherable mess that ends up frustrating customers more than actually helping them. So what does it take to make FAQ content that actually works?
1. Start With the Basics
Don’t try to do everything at once; if you want a comprehensive FAQ section and you try to do it all upfront, you’ll only end up frustrating yourself. Instead, start with the basics. What are the key points that your customers need to know about your products? What are the key issues that they’re currently experiencing? This can also help you map out potential pages you need to create from here, giving you a framework that can gradually be expanded.
2. Ask Questions Like a User
When you title your individual pages, try to phrase your questions the way a user would phrase them. If you include too many technical terms, or reference concepts that an average customer wouldn’t understand, you’ll turn your audience away.
Instead, come up with conversational, approachable topics that your customers feel comfortable reading and following. This will make your content easier to follow and engage with, and will serve the side benefit of optimizing your site for long-tail keyword phrases that your customers are likely to search for.
3. Create Clear Hierarchies of Individual Pages
Your customers should be able to navigate throughout your Help section intuitively, which means you should establish a clear hierarchy of pages within your knowledge base. For example, you could have a main directory for each of your products, and sub-categories that include things like “Troubleshooting,” “Basic Components,” “Regular Maintenance,” and “FAQs.”
Each of those categories could have sub-categories, and so on until you get to individual content pages that target specific chunks of information.
4. Be Detailed, and Include Visuals
When you write the actual content, especially if you’re instructing your readers how to do something, you’ll need to be as detailed as possible. If a customer has to read a paragraph several times over before they begin to understand what you’re saying, the section needs rewritten.
It’s often helpful to include visual reference points for this reason; if you can, take photos and video to demonstrate what you’re talking about. Otherwise, rely on stock photography, or concoct some illustrations from scratch.
5. Link to Other Articles
Within the body of each of your articles, try to link to other relevant articles in your FAQ. For example, if you’re addressing a complex technical issue that references a related technical issue, link to the page on the similar issue.
This will help customers fill in the gaps of their knowledge without distracting from the main point. As an added bonus, interlinking your pages is beneficial for your SEO strategy, helping search engine crawlers better understand the topics of each page and the relationship between your pages.
6. Collect Feedback
Collect user feedback on every page you produce. If you can, employ a tactic used by Google, and offer users a question at the end of each article: “was this article helpful?”, with “yes” or “no” responses.
Over time, you’ll easily learn where your strong points and weak points are, and you can adjust your writing accordingly.
7. Make It Searchable
Customers are used to being able to search for whatever they want, intuitively, and find it pretty quickly. Your hierarchies are helpful, but they don’t want to drill down the list every time they want a fast answer to an easy question.
Include a search bar in your knowledge base, and optimize it so that it performs quickly and intuitively. Your users should be able to find what they’re looking for within one search in the vast majority of cases.
8. Keep It Updated
Chances are, your products, services, and even your brand are going to change over time. For example, you’ll be releasing new products and new software updates, and you’ll be discovering new urgent problems that your customers have.
In response, you’ll need to keep your content section updated. Make time to periodically include new screenshots and new information your customers need to solve their problems.
9. Always Offer Another Option
Though 60 percent of customers claim to prefer speaking to a human rather than a pre-recorded message or an automated email bot, results are mixed when it comes to which method of communication is best. Some people love to call in, while others hate it. Some strongly prefer email, while others avoid it at all costs.
And of course, a healthy section of your audience will try to solve all their own problems with the content you provide. The key is to always offer alternative options for your customers; provide multiple contact methods, even if you feel like your content provides more than enough information to solve every query.
These strategies aren’t the only considerations you’ll need to consider when creating your help content, but they should give you everything you need to get started. Even with a basic FAQ section included, your site will be better optimized for SEO, more accessible to your customers, and your brand reputation will improve as well. The key to good help content isn’t perfection from the beginning; it’s a gradual series of improvements that eventually results in a masterpiece.
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