Is Your Online Help Documentation Clearly Focused on Your Customers?
Documentation that’s poorly written and organized doesn’t target the end user’s needs and sets your company up for dissatisfied customers and increased support costs. Online help allows consumers to find answers to questions about using a company’s product or service without the need to contact a customer call center. If your online help documentation isn’t user-friendly—well written, organized, concise and easy to navigate—it’s actually a waste of time and resources.
Why is that? For example, software programmers often end up developing documentation for their product or service. But are they the right people to do the job? Not necessarily. They are too close to the software. They know how it’s supposed to operate inside out. They’re not thinking like a customer would. They think like a programmer. That’s when it’s best to work with an expert whose sole focus is writing this kind of company documentation. Otherwise, you run the risk of leaving customers no choice but to reluctantly call the helpline, adding to your customer support costs.
Writing for your intended audience is key. When you really understand your target market online help preferences, you can then structure support documentation appropriately to ensure customers can quickly find answers and return to the task-at-hand.
The customer-focused solution actually saves time and money. As with any type of company documentation, there should be a robust framework in place that ensures:
- Consistency of formatting and messaging that’s easy for readers to understand
- An index for quick reference
- Organized navigation
- Easy how-to examples
- Include accompanying images and/or videos
- A powerful search function that delivers answers to frequently asked questions
- Additional information that helps the initial query if it doesn’t immediately solve the problem
- Documentation will be reviewed and updated as the new software releases arise
For instance, you can set up your online help documentation to:
- Have commonly-used topics that customers would need to access when they have a question
- Within each topic area, provide a clear list of quick-fixes that can keep them moving
Sounds easy enough, however, you also need to consider the variances in each end user’s computer and software comprehension. An experienced technical writer will know how to account for these discrepancies and build those variables into the documentation. Remember that your online help also doesn’t have to be a dry read. You can use images, charts, tables and videos to further engage customers.
The advantages of online help
- Saves time and money on customer support operations expenses.
- Is project- or task-oriented, providing solutions that help people move through a task or project with minimal interruption.
- Is immediate in nature, providing real-time answers.
- It lives on the digital platform, removing the necessity to print help documentation.
- Is flexible; can easily be updated as products/services change.
- Is available 24/7 for the customer to review.
Cohort looks at online help as another way to solve business problems by ensuring the process is easy for the end user and affordable for the client.