Online self-service delivers benefits for brands and consumers alike. So how do you get more people noticing, reading, and sharing your online help content?
Online self-service is the new reality in customer experience. In the words of analyst firm Forrester:
“The use of help or FAQs on a company’s website increased from 67 percent [of consumers] in 2012 to 81 percent in 2015.”
Yet you want to make sure your customers are getting the right answers, and doing so quickly - so they don’t seek you out, frustrated, on another (likely more expensive) support channel.
That’s why it’s important to surface your own online help content. And there are a few steps you should take to accelerate the process.
Publish answers to a platform that search engines love
Imagine you’re a consumer with a question. Where are you going to start your journey to getting an answer? Odds are, your first stop will be a search engine.
By one estimate, 77 percent of people will turn to a web search when they have a service question. Your challenge, of course, is getting noticed. Most web users don’t click past the first search engine results page (SERP), meaning that links on the second page will see far fewer clicks.
One key step for you, then, is to ensure your content ranks on “page one” as often as possible.
Essential to making this happen is the technical back-end of your content platform. Is new content getting meta-tagged so it’s more easily indexable? Are your help pages structured in such a way that search engines can identify the author of each post? These elements have a huge impact on how prominently you rank in search.
Publish the content that real customers need
Still, a platform that optimizes for search engines is only the first step. The content itself is critically important, too.
If you’re like most brands, your support team is responsible for creating support how-tos and FAQs. Few people benefit from this approach, though. Your team has to manually create hundreds or thousands of pages of content - time that could be better spent actually helping people. Meanwhile, your customers only get the answers your agents think they need.
One solution is to fill your help pages with user-generated content, instead of using branded content exclusively.
For one thing, Google recognizes UGC as being more valuable to users, and typically rewards it with better rankings. That’s especially true when the content is helpful, as Search Engine Land explained in March 2017.
On top of that, letting users answer each other’s questions ensures that only the most relevant help content bubbles to the surface. Trust your customers to identify the issues that matter to them - and help each other solve those issues - and the quality of your help content will improve.
You can do your part by editing your help pages to match the terms people use in searches. Get people to the right answers even faster by also verifying user-generated content as correct.
Cross-publish content, e.g., in FAQs and community
Another way to improve the visibility of your help content is to simply publish it in more places.
For example, think about extending the reach of your FAQ page by publishing FAQs in your user community - or vice versa. Repurposing content across platforms increases the likelihood that your customers will find the answer they need, on the channel they want to use.
T-Mobile NL does this with their “Toestelhulp” (“Device Help”) FAQs. Toestelhulp is a mix of user-generated content from the T-Mobile community and posts created by T-Mobile employees.
The company’s approach is straightforward: to make sure the best answer is the first one the user sees. Of course, on the T-Mobile community, many user-generated answers are visible. But only those marked as correct (as mentioned above) make it into T-Mobile’s FAQs.
How effective has this cross-platform approach been for T-Mobile? The company’s social knowledge base receives millions of visits annually, helping T-Mobile reduce its overall support costs by more than 15 percent.
By Ben Foster
Content Marketer at inSided. Having worked in B2B tech in San Francisco and Boston, Ben's now happy to be in New York City. He'll never root for the Yankees, though. Connect on Linkedin