7 Tips for Creating Powerful Help Docs

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The goal of a good help doc is to enable customers to use your product more effectively and reduce the volume of customer support queries.

However, help docs can often grow out of control as new features are released and new customer questions arise. If you don’t have a process around how they are managed, you can end up with an unwieldy mess of information that’s difficult to navigate for customers and hard to maintain for your employees. 

We have put together our top tips on how to build an effective help doc resource, drawing on some of the processes we have found work well here at Teamwork.com.

1. Assign a Help Docs Owner

Having multiple people write help docs often results in duplicated content, insufficient information and an inconsistent tone of voice for the customer. The most important step in building your help doc strategy is to assign one individual as the point person to oversee your help docs. This person should be responsible for prioritizing and managing help doc articles, adding help docs for new features, and regularly updating and maintaining content.

2. Develop an Architecture

A brain dump of “how to” questions will make it very hard for customers to navigate your help docs. Get a structure established early on. You can divide your articles by content topic, or our preferred way at Teamwork.com is to map the articles according to the user journey. Organize help docs for each stage of user knowledge and needs: onboarding, getting started, basic functions, advanced features, and so on.

3. Establish a Process for Adding New Help Docs

The customer support team and sales team are on the front line when it comes to customers. It is important to give them a platform to share customer questions and concerns to form the basis for help doc articles. Here at Teamwork.com, we use Teamwork Projects to allow employees to add suggestions for updates or additions to help docs as tasks. This gives our help doc champion insights into the most common issues faced by customers, helping them to prioritize articles. The Popular Tags feature in Teamwork Desk makes this easier by allowing users to quickly and easily identify the most common issues faced by the support team.

4. Make Your Articles User Friendly

Reading through two pages of solid text to find an answer? Busy people won’t have the patience for that.

Keep your articles short and visually clean so users can quickly scan them. Structure your help doc into step-by-step guides wherever possible and include screenshots or visual aids for anything that may be confusing or hard to understand. Teamwork Desk has lots of options, including templates and style sheets, to allow you to customize your help docs.  We recommend creating a standard template and structure so that your customers have consistency.

5. Use Clear Naming Conventions and Titles

Make sure you name your articles in language that your customers would use. Customers will usually use the search bar to look for an answer to their question, so make it easy for them to find the most relevant article on their first attempt. Be consistent by naming any features just as they are labeled in your software or product so users know exactly what you are referring to.

6. Link Articles

Be sure to link to other related articles  so users can find all the information they need to solve their problem. These links might also help them answer some questions they didn’t know they had. The Related Articles feature in Teamwork Desk makes this easier by allowing you to select other articles which relate to the subject at hand. Links to these articles will appear at the bottom of your published article.

7.  Measure Your Docs

Get into the habit of reviewing how customers use your help docs, just as you would analyze their engagement with your website. This will go a long way in improving your help doc strategy! Teamwork Desk has a help docs reporting feature that is designed to give you reports on the usage of your help docs. Here you can get access to insights such as:

  • Most viewed articles
  • Top categories users select when they view the help docs
  • Searches that users have attempted and not returned an answer, which give you clues to improvements that need to be made
  • The areas that have been searched the most within your docs account
  • Articles viewed per visit

So there you have it, go forth and impress your customers!

If you have more tips to add to this list, or if you have found other methods really effective for building your help docs, be sure to share them with us in the comments.

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