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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Lewis

Seven Mistakes to Avoid in your Customer-Facing Help Center


help center

Every support team out there knows how impactful a help center could be. 


69% of consumers try to resolve their issues independently, while less than one-third of companies offer self-service options such as a knowledge base. That’s why most teams start providing support by throwing up a help center. 


But publishing an FAQ page and calling it a day isn’t going to cut it. 


To provide truly exceptional service your help center needs love and attention. These are the most common mistakes to avoid in your help center that can stop you from making the most of it.


Seven common mistakes holding your help center back


1. Not monitoring help center analytics


Analytics can help you answer both basic and complex questions about how effective your help center is. 


  • How often do users view article X vs article Y? That can show you where you need to invest more energy in maintenance. 

  • What are the most popular search terms? Check that you have articles for all of them regularly. 

  • Which searches have a very low click-through rate? That’s an opportunity to update the titles of your existing articles or split content out so it’s easier for your customers to see what’s relevant to them. 

  • Does your helpfulness score change after an article is edited? One of the best ways to see if the changes you’re making are actually improving the experience for your customers or not.

  • How many people go on to create a ticket after visiting a specific article? That’s a very loud signal that the content might not provide the answers they’re looking for. 


Often, the difficulty with using analytics is in developing the right dashboards and metrics to work with – which is why working with dedicated tools for support teams can be a great way to get started. For more on this, check out our blog post on improving your help center with analytics.


2. Not making the help center easy to find


Customers usually get to a help center in one of two ways:


  1. Either they follow the navigation options in your product and select a “Support” or “Help” link that you’ve integrated into it.

  2. Or they go straight to Google and start searching from there. 


That means your help center should be optimized for both of those journeys. You need great SEO so articles come up in search engines and your help center should be easy to find from your website or app. Our blog post on optimizing a Zendesk help center for SEO will offer you more guidance on this topic.


It’s also essential to see what devices your customers use most and ensure your help center is accessible from there (desktop, mobile, etc.). 


Then you can start increasing awareness by integrating it in your contact options or support responses. 


3. Not collecting or listening to user feedback 


Publishing an article about a topic is only the first step in enabling your customers to self-serve. 


While you can get pretty far with analytics to know what works and what doesn’t (e.g., by tracking how many people create a ticket after reading an article), collecting qualitative user feedback is sometimes the only way to understand exactly why something works. 


Typically, the most effective way to collect qualitative data is through a survey targeting customers visiting your help center. If you’ve invested a ton of effort into your help center and still aren’t happy with its performance, surveys like this are the best option to get deeper insights.


4. Lack of clarity in navigation


Imagine entering a store with no signs or organized aisles. You’d have to wander around aimlessly and finding what you’re looking for would be a matter of luck. 


A frustrating experience, right? 


A disorganized help center that doesn’t have intuitive navigation can leave customers feeling lost and dissatisfied. 


Invest time in structuring your help center. Group topics logically, create easily recognizable categories, and implement a user-friendly search bar (test it to ensure it works!). Incoming support requests are a great window into how your customers think. Use that knowledge to organize information in a way that’s logical and easy to find for them.


Another way to see if your help center navigation could be improved is to measure the bounce rate on different pages. A high bounce rate on an article can be a sign that customers find the solution they’re looking for and return to using your product, whereas a high bounce rate on a category or section page could mean that your customers end up there by accident or can’t find the content they’re looking for. 


5. Lack of clarity in content


One way to transform a good help center into a great one is to tailor the content to different user personas or segments. You can use your help center to provide customized recommendations or paths based on their specific needs.


Here’s an example from Slack’s help center


Screenshot from the Slack help center

Many of Slack’s articles open with a box highlighting exactly who can use a feature or who would benefit from following this advice. 


This is the level of detail and clarity that every great help center should provide. Other situations that require careful forethought and planning in how you present information include:

  • A complex pricing structure. Customers might feel overwhelmed and churn if they don’t understand how your product is priced and what tiers you offer. 

  • Help articles for experienced customers. Trying to target both beginner and experienced customers with the same content is challenging. Beginner customers could easily get lost in jargon and drop out, while experienced customers could get frustrated at basic explanations. Creating separate content and making it clear who it’s for is one way to get around this. 

  • Integration guides. 3rd-party integrations always add a lot of complexity to a product. This is the type of content that often benefits most from visuals (more about this below) because it can be hard to follow in text. 


6. Not including visuals


A text-heavy help center is undoubtedly easier to maintain and localize. 


But in some cases, a written explanation just doesn’t work. Complex topics or instructions can be difficult to grasp through text alone, so finding a different way to present the same information can have a massive impact. 


Incorporate visuals like infographics, screenshots, and illustrations to supplement the text in your articles. 


Some studies show that people retain more information from what they watch than from what they read. That means incorporating videos into your help center can help your customers find what they need faster and remember it if they have a similar issue later on.


7. Inconsistent updates


Keeping a help center up-to-date is an ongoing challenge for many teams – especially in SaaS, where many product teams spend weeks or even months testing different feature variations before releasing it to all users.


But it’s a challenge that’s worth tackling head-on. Your customers will be frustrated if they spend time searching for answers only to find out-of-date or inaccurate information.


Try out some of these tactics to maintain your help center:

  • Perform regular audits

  • Keep track of outdated info and assign a team responsible for regular updates and reviews for accuracy. 

  • Make preparing or updating help center articles part of the product release cycle.

  • Listen to your customers through surveys and support tickets to identify gaps in your content.


An easy way to limit the impact of inconsistent updates is to prioritize articles based on views. Ensure that the most commonly viewed articles are always up-to-date quickly. It’s typically easier for a small team to maintain that even during peaks or busy seasons. 


Create a great help center


A great help center is a valuable resource for your customers. It enhances their experience and satisfaction with your brand's customer service. And they’re a good resource for your team and other people in customer-facing roles across your company.


Taking the time to improve it consistently over time will have knock-on effects on all levels. If you’re looking for more inspiration, here are some brilliant help centers to get ideas for your own. 


Looking for tools to help you level up your help center? At Swifteq, we’ve developed a number of apps to manage, improve, and translate your Zendesk help center that you can try out for free today. 


 



danielle lewis

​​Written by Danielle Lewis

Danielle has spent most of the last decade working in customer support and product management for tech companies. She loves writing and creating content, and she writes regularly for Supported Content. You can find her on LinkedIn.


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