Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
What can you do to help your customers get more out of your knowledge base, Frequently Asked Questions page, and online help desk resources? How can you increase the odds they will find and follow through with self-service resources? What should you do to improve customer service no matter what channel they use?
Tips for Creating Content Your Customers Need
Consult with your helpdesk manager to determine what solutions your organization needs to write. It is surprising to everyone but the help desk how often the issue isn’t a software glitch but user error due to ignorance. Sometimes the best solution your help desk can do is put the relevant portions of the user manual up in the solution database, especially the parts that are hard to follow when you just received the device.
If a new issue becomes the most common reason for customer support calls, make it the highest priority for IT to solve and tech writers to write a solution for. The solution may simply be to list the error and recommend that the user submit a ticket, but that document shows the customer that you are aware of the issue and have a defined channel for support.
Tech support documentation is not ad copy. Only include relevant images in the solution. It is more important to see what a burned out fuse, app installation error or software glitch looks like than pretty but useless pictures of people sitting at computers. Screen shots of the user menus are ideal if the image is of the particular step referred to in the instructions. If the image is showing menu options, ensure that the menu options are readable by someone viewing the image on a smart phone or tablet as well as a computer screen.
The only advertising suitable for knowledge base websites would be “solution kits” or the link to schedule a service visit. You’ll lose points with your customers if your solution to a model 5.0 error is selling them the model 6.0 unless the 5.0 error means that the hardware in their hand is junk. A notice that they need to upgrade their software from model 5.0 to 6.0 is reasonable.
The Intersection of SEO, SMO, Web Design, and Tech Support
A key intersection of search engine optimization, tech support, and IT security is ensuring that your company’s login page for customers shows up at the top of search results for “company login” and “X login page.” An incredible number of funnel pages are designed to capture people looking for the legitimate pages. Furthermore, the legitimate homepage for customer service and tech support need to come up at the top of searches for “company name customer service” and “company name helpdesk.”
Search engine optimization of your knowledge base content is important, but it won’t be perfect. Include links to related solutions where they’re easily seen so that users landing on the fix for version 5.0 can immediately move to the solution for the same issue in model 6.0. Link to related solutions on the pages that capture the most traffic, such as providing the solution on to reset your password immediately available for those who may have forgotten their new password.
If your company posts how-to videos on YouTube or another platform, provide information on how to reach customer support or tech support in the video description. And don’t make them have to expand the description to see it. When you create videos promoting the new product, go ahead and include information on how buyers of the new model can reach tech support if they experience problems with it.
Social media outreach can be an invaluable tech support tool. When your company discovers a problem that is occurring often, share the solution via social media. Customers who didn’t know what to do about it may now find out the solution, and you may generate positive feedback from customers regarding solutions they themselves worked out. A side benefit of this approach is that you could counter-act negative social media mentions of the problem, while others sharing the solution with their friends could reach those who need help but didn’t know about the solution document.
Helpdesk Organization Tips
Don't trap people in a phone tree where they cannot reach a human. While self-service is the ideal, not every question can be answered via a recorded message or chat bot's scripted answer. Making it impossible to reach a human, especially for those whose issues cannot be handled by a machine, makes it likely you will lose that customer.
If someone has problems in billing that are actually related to the website or vice versa, never tell the person to call another phone number and go through another phone tree structure. Ensure that your staff can hand off phone calls to other departments. I had to go through this repeatedly when dealing with a telecom account problem.
The worst example I ran into occurred when I was working on a PDM help desk. I was attempting to reach one of our vendors, but their entire website was down. Their phone simply went to a recording saying you should use the website. I had to call a general customer account line to report the website was down, because there was no way to reach tech support.
Where possible, have integrated customer support using a single issue tracking database. Ensure that someone inputting a ticket via phone has the issue recorded in the customer relationship management system that would be used if they submit an issue via email or instant message. Siloed systems mean that a customer's repeated attempts to reach help fail to reach the right people, or worse, contradictory responses.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Tamara Wilhite