Frustrated visitors don’t convert to customers, and frustrated customers don’t stay customers for long. It’s impossible to create a product or service that’s perfect and immediately understandable to all or to set up a website that provides the perfect answer to every question any person in the world might have. But all businesses can be attentive to customer needs by taking the time to craft a “help page” that is truly useful.
A good help page finds the right balance between answering the simple and obvious questions that some may need answering because they overlooked it somewhere else, and providing more in-depth guidance and how-tos for established customers or interested leads.
Help pages must anticipate the needs of a variety of client personas and provides assistance in a way that will be the simplest and most useful for that demographic.
Let’s take a look at some important elements for any help page, along with real-life examples of what works and what doesn’t.
Help Page Basics
First things first: a help page must be easy to find. When a visitor realizes they don’t have the information they need, they will naturally look for the help or support tab to solve their concerns.
Help pages are often found in the footer bar of a site, which is an acceptable default location. A better option is to incorporate it into your header navigation bar. A locked navigation bar that stays visible on every web page regardless of distance scrolled is always a good practice, and a help button that lives on this bar is even better, like in this example from ProWorkflow.
It is also a good practice to ensure that 404 pages direct visitors to the help page. If website upgrades or restructuring causes a higher frequency of 404 occurrences, be sure to include an explanation on the help page, especially if a service or resource they are looking for has been removed entirely.
Once on the help page, the options for assistance should be easy to see and navigate. If there are multiple avenues for assistance, make them distinct so that users can quickly find their preferred option for assistance. If including a search function, make sure it provides accurate and detailed results and that the results are easy to read and follow the format of the rest of your site, rather than the default site of a search plugin.
Additionally, help page content should cover a range of concerns. Some users may seek simple answers, while others may need more complex or nuanced answers. Providing exclusively one or the other will undoubtedly ostracize and frustrate a portion of visitors.
For more on the essentials of a good help page, check out this resource from Web Pages FX.
FAQs or Frequently asked questions are one of the most useful types of help page content. By listing true FAQs, visitors can scan them and immediately recognize what they are looking for because the content is already phrased like what they have in mind.
To maximize the effectiveness of an FAQ page, list the actual question in bold and/or different color font, so the reader can quickly find their question. If possible, avoid listing questions and answers on a page that requires endless scrolling. Instead, list just the question with an option for readers to click on the question of choice so that the answer either expands beneath the question, like in this example from Colorescience.
In developing FAQ content, be sure that it is truly reflective of customer’s actual questions. When first launching, this may be more difficult to anticipate, so be sure to update or rephrase questions as it becomes apparent what information your customers are looking for.
Include sales and customer service workers in the development process for FAQ content, and analyze data from chat conversations and support emails to look for patterns of what customers ask about most often. Word clouds or similar tools can be helpful in identifying key topics to include or update in FAQ content.
Appliances come with instruction manuals, and so too should online products or services. Instructional content is extremely valuable as it not only provides essential knowledge to current and future customers, but it also can be adapted to multiple formats, making it an asset to any content marketing strategy.
How-tos and tutorials are the most common types of instructional content, and although they can at times be synonymous, make sure this isn’t the case. Think of tutorials as informational pieces that give only direct instructions for completing specific tasks within a product, while how-to articles give instruction for applying the product to different situations.
Visuals are essential to any instructional content. Short videos that clearly show the steps a user takes to complete a task are golden. Stay away from long videos that attempt to answer many questions at once, and instead focus on under two-minute videos that answer a specific question. (Although, if there is customer demand for longer and more holistic video content, it may be worth investing in.) The help center for TransUnion’s ShareAble for Hires is a great example of using short video tutorials to answer specific questions.
At the very least, instructional articles should have images to accompany the description of each step of the process.
Instructional content can be integrated into blog content, but should primarily be focused on the help page to give customers a complete picture of a product or service. Designing a resource center or similar page is a great way to combine these purposes and give customers what they need, want, and enjoy. Instructional content can also be shared across social channels as a way to ignite interest by conveying what a product can do in real-world applications.
Lastly, contact information is essential on any help page. Many computer-savvy users will use this as a last resort, preferring to find the information on their own if possible. However, it’s impossible to design a help page that will completely answer any question a customer may have, so to demonstrate a commitment to truly helping them, be sure to provide a way to contact additional support.
JetBlue does this perfectly: they include their most common help topics listed by category, followed by three options to obtain additional assistance if needed, all on the same page.
Most help pages do include a contact form, but at times these can convey the idea that the message will go to some distant inbox where a real person may or may not read it and respond. An informational or support email address is better and makes users feel that it’s more likely to be responded to.
Live chats can also be of great use to customers and a great benefit to the business, but be sure to incorporate true customer service there, rather than automate it entirely. A phone number should also be easily available. And of course, the people on the other end of these lines of communications should be able to provide nothing less than stellar customer service.
Help pages are a sure sign of true investment in customer satisfaction and support. An excellent help page will anticipate a customer’s needs because its creators know the demographic, and the content included will be of use to both existing customers and customers to be.
How-tos, tutorials, and FAQs should relieve the anxieties of those learning to use a product for the first time, or those who are concerned that the product will be overwhelming to use once purchased. Give your help page – and therefore your customers – a little help today by incorporating these tips.
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