Written by Ian Landsman on Mar 29, 2018 in

Providing Excellent Customer Support: How to Set Up Your Help Site

“I’ve got a great product. Now, how do I support my customers?”

Customer support is not a hard concept.

When someone has a question or a problem, it’s your job to fix it and make them happy.

When done right, it can set you apart from the competition. An app that does something can be recreated easily, but a rocking support experience is much harder to copy. When customers know they’re going to get better support, they’ll usually choose you over the competitor.

But if you do it wrong, it can undo everything that you’ve worked so hard on. Customers will start leaving you behind as they find a company that can provide the support experience they’re looking for.

So, you must dedicate yourself to prioritizing great customer service. There are three key times to do this:

  • before you launch your product;
  • after you launch your product; and
  • as you scale your team when your company grows.

In this post, we’ll start by covering one of the key items you’ll have to address before you launch your new product. Let’s dive right in to planning your help site.

Setting Up Your Help Site

A customer’s first stop should be your help site, where they can find the answers they need themselves. A solid help site, inclusive of a frequently-asked questions (FAQ) page, should help many of your customers find the answer without having to contact you.

The key to setting this up is to do so in a way that your customers get answers and you don’t get bogged down in support tickets all day. If every support ticket takes you five minutes to address, a help site that does the work for you can save you a lot of time, quickly.

What does a good help site look like?

First, don’t get too cute with naming it. Call this part of your site what it is. Clearly label it “Help,” “Support,” or another term that immediately communicates its purpose. Then, place this section of your site at an obvious URL, such as yoursite.com/help.

Your help site should be simple and streamlined, to start. Consider launching it with the following three areas:

  • an FAQ page: Cover the most common questions customers ask (or questions you expect they might ask, at launch);
  • a search page: Allow them to search for information relevant to their question; and
  • a contact page: Provide a way they can ask for help if they can’t find the answer they need.

What should a good help page look like?

When customers are on your help site, they’re already confused… and in need of help! Don’t make it worse with a complicated page. Focus on keeping it:

  • clean and simple: Simplify the page design, and make sure to include screenshots to illustrate what a customer should do.
  • short and sweet: Lengthy answers should be broken up into easy-to-read sections. Making something more clear does not mean adding more text to the page.
  • organized by headers and formatting: Use headers and text formatting to make information easier to read. Bolding the right word can help customers to find relevant answers faster.
  • What does a good screenshot look like?

    This seems like a no-brainer, right? You just take a screenshot of what you want to show, and you throw it on your help page. Easy!

    No…

    You’ve taken care to craft every word on that page. Take the same pride and professionalism in your screenshots.

    Consider the following:

    • frame and context: Make the object you’re calling attention to obvious, but remember to include it in the context of the page itself. If you focus on just one tiny part, a customer might get confused trying to figure out where on the page you took that screenshot.
    • using arrows, callouts, etc: Use these sparingly. A dozen arrows in a single screenshot is too much. Highlight no more than one to two items that you want the customer to see.
    • don’t forget the alt text tag: Some website visitors will rely on the alt text to “see” the screenshots. Screen-reading software needs the alt text to relay that information to a customer. It’ll take a few moments to describe the screenshot, but the customer that needs it will love you for it.

    What FAQs should be included at launch?

    Questions you expect to be routine are best handled through self-service. “How do I” questions, such as change account information, update an email address, change my preferences, etc. are questions that can be answered in a FAQs section. This empowers the customer to do simple tasks on their own terms, with immediate answers available to them any time, day or night.

    Still not sure what else to include? Show your product or service and your website to a few friends, family members, and trusted colleagues. Write down the questions they have, and put those questions and their respective answers on the site. You don’t have to keep those questions there forever. Once you launch your product, you’ll quickly see what other questions need to make their way onto your help page(s).

    Help customers find the information they need

    Your website needs to have a solid search tool. We live in the days of Google search results - people aren’t as used to referencing a book’s index, anymore. No matter how well-organized your website is, or how clear cut your FAQs are, customers often go straight to searching for the information they need.

    Put the search box prominently on your site. Customers should find it as soon as they land on your help site, and if they don’t, many will immediately go ahead and send you a support ticket - causing you to do the heavy lifting and answer their question. By having the search box in a prominent location, customers will be more likely to use that first, and in many cases, they’ll find their answer without ever emailing you.

    When all else fails, the contact form

    If the help site doesn’t have the answer they’re looking for, the customer will need a way to quickly get in touch with you. To start, a simple contact form will do the trick.

    Your form should ask for:

    • their name;
    • their email address; and
    • what they need to ask you.

    You can also ask them to pick a category, as well. For instance:

    • “I can’t log in”
    • “I have a billing question”
    • “I have a feature request”
    • Other

    Those will come in handy after launch, if and when you have a lot of support cases being initiated. Have that form send all inquiries to your dedicated support email address.

    By following the recommendations above, you’ll be well on your way to creating a help site that proactively provides great customer support. In our next customer support post, we’ll focus on one more area you must prepare for before you launch your product: how to streamline your responses to support emails.

    Presented by HelpSpot

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    About the author

    Ian Landsman of UserScape

    Ian is the founder of HelpSpot and also podcasts at Bootstrapped.fm.

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