Help centers are integral to your business, elevating the customer experience of your product or service. According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers across all industries attempt to take care of issues themselves before contacting a support team.
A well-written help center article often marks the difference between a new customer returning to use your product or leaving in frustration (perhaps never coming back). Furthermore, using self-service proactively can bring significant benefits to your business, like improved customer loyalty and decreased ticket volume.
The knowledge base is the backbone of self-service. Almost all businesses offer them in greater or lesser measure, whether in the form of FAQs or other article listings. Some companies offer customers a great help center that is informative, uses clear language, is coherent with their brand, and is well organized.
We’ve collected seven examples of stellar help centers that tick all these boxes and more.
What makes a help center successful
A business help center is constantly evolving, but the foundation of what makes a knowledge base awesome remains.
These are the best practices for building a support center that helps users:
Clear language and a coherent writing style: Users looking for help want instructions that are as clear and simple as possible. Plain language wins over beautiful prose. The best help centers follow this cardinal rule all over. This doesn’t mean your help center should be boring! Help centers can (and should) be clear, concise, and engaging. And because help centers are an extension of your business, they should be aligned with your brand’s tone of voice.
Well-structured and organized: A clearly written page is worth nothing if users can’t find it. Make sure your help center follows a specific structure by clustering related topics together and, when necessary, displaying breadcrumbs so that users know where they are regardless of the page they land on. Bonus points if you can display related pages within another page, as that can save users a lot of time.
User-friendly and visual design: Language and design go hand-in-hand with digital products and help centers. The goal is always to make content easy to navigate while following your brand’s visual identity. Imagine a customer lands on a page from your help center—the design (font, colors, etc.) should reassure them that they are in the right place.
Uses images or videos where necessary: Awesome help centers contain articles in various formats because the best way to explain something will depend on the topic. Features with many details and steps might require a video instead of a long article. GIFs can also be a great way to quickly show users what you’re trying to say! If you find yourself struggling to explain something, it could be that you need to show it instead.
SEO also applies to help center articles: Your help center is online, and just like anything online that you want people to find, you need to consider SEO. Search engine optimization is integral to getting customers the information they need to solve their problems. Implementing SEO-friendly techniques, you contribute to articles in your help center ranking higher so your customers can find them quicker.
Ask for feedback: The best help centers are alive—constantly updated, refined, and polished. To improve your help center, ask those who use it for feedback. You can add a simple feedback form so that customers let you know when the information presented does not meet their expectations—so that you can go and fix it.
Examples of great customer help centers
We’ve selected help centers from various industries that are informative, easy to understand, and also look great.
Why it’s awesome: Using tabs, Airbnb displays information for different user profiles (such as guests or hosts), and content is customized depending on the user.
If your business caters to different user profiles, building a help center where users end up in the articles that apply to their profile can be a real challenge. For example, you might have different payment methods for your business clients than your consumer customers. How do you ensure that your business customers are looking at the business-related payment methods and vice-versa?
Airbnb does this split very well. Using a simple tabulation format, each user, such as a guest or a host, can customize the help center with a single click. Besides this simple yet effective organizational solution, Airbnb’s help center is coherent with the brand style and uses images to call attention to their guides on specific topics.
Why it’s awesome: Zendesk dutifully follows the list of top practices to create informative help center articles.
As the maker of reputable customer support software, you expect Zendesk to be on this list. Indeed, they provide an excellent example of integrating the good practices we’ve mentioned into a help center article.
A Zendesk help center article starts by displaying information using a step-by-step instructional style, showing the time required and skill level to put it into practice. Zendesk mentions for which plans the feature is available, which avoids users being confused over why they don’t see a particular feature.
The bottom of the page lets you leave a comment. Comments are answered by other members, community moderators, or customer support at Zendesk. This can be helpful as people trying out that particular page will often ask questions you might be interested in. Each page comes with a “Follow” option to notify you when the content is updated.
Feedback is collected via a survey on the page where you can give your opinion on the article, stating how satisfied you are and how to improve the experience.
Why it’s awesome: Harvest adds professional-looking videos to cover the most complex areas of their product.
Harvest does one thing very well: track how much time you spend on a task. Now, Harvest also offers more complex features. How do you explain something when many steps, clicks, and even multiple options are involved? You guessed it—recording a video.
By cleverly inserting videos on their most complex features, Harvest makes it super easy for customers to get where they need to be without spending more time than necessary.
What if a customer is still struggling after they’ve finished the article or video? Then they can contact Harvest’s CS team right from the bottom of the page. Additionally, Harvest adds a section asking for feedback on each page so they can keep on improving.
Tip: the Help Center Manager app allows you to install a feedback form in just a few clicks - no coding experience required.
Why it’s awesome: It uses direct, clear language and an easy-to-navigate structure.
When you look at Instagram’s support center, one thing stands out: how the different levels of information are neatly presented using a side menu and tabs.
Following a similar approach to other examples we’ve seen, Instagram lets users customize the information they choose to see based on their user profile. Let’s say you’re not an Android user, but you use iOS. No problem; simply click on the relevant tab, and you’ll see the instructions for your device.
All relevant topics are clearly structured on the menu to the left. Users can open and close tabs to choose the topic they need. Articles then use plain and direct language and numbered instructions.
Lastly, they have a feedback form where users can share their thoughts on the article.
Why it’s awesome: A big search bar makes it easy to explore the help center.
While some users will go through your list of available articles and topics, others will simply try to search for what they need using the search feature. Dropbox’s main help center page ensures that the option is quickly findable by adding a prominent search bar that suggests top-searched articles.
Additionally, Dropbox creates a visually appealing experience by staying consistent with its branding on the articles and the main page.
Why it’s awesome: Google presents a lot of information neatly, using collapsible sections that hide or show information based on what the user wants to see.
Google has a consistent help center throughout all its product offerings. One of the most remarkable features of its support portal is how it hides certain information so as not to cram an already long page. This way, users can choose whether to display or hide a particular section based on the information they seek. If you have a very long article, this is a neat solution.
Since articles only take up a page section, Google uses the right side to display related articles.
Why it’s awesome: It effectively uses available space, structuring information based on importance.
Spotify offers the perfect example of “less is more” in self-service. Your help center’s main page doesn’t need to be crammed with information to be effective. Instead, Spotify opts for displaying critical information so that users can reach where they need to be faster.
Spotify attributes specific importance to the different sections on the page, starting with the search box, which would be the main item on the page, followed by the topic clusters (where all articles on topics like payment or privacy are grouped), and then the “Quick help.” The latter is a list of popular articles. Using relevancy again, Spotify places the most-searched articles here, saving users time.
Create a great help center
Building a great customer help center takes time and effort, but as we’ve seen with the examples, the result pays off.
The help centers shown here stand out because of their creative ability to maximize self-service. They offer a knowledge base with a clear writing style, intelligible information architecture, and a variety of content. Ultimately, they make the customer’s life easier and ensure they keep coming back—while reducing the incoming tickets queue.
At Swifteq, we help customer support teams just like you build stellar help centers using Zendesk. With our Help Center Manager, creating a help center that enables game-changing self-service is easy. Book a free demo with us today to see how our tools work!