Customers want to find answers quickly and easily. In fact, 45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions are not addressed quickly (Forrester).
There are several ways to address customer questions; and although there’s no one size fits all, customer self-service is important. 60% of consumers use web self-service knowledge to find answers to their questions (Forrester).
Some customers just want to find the answers themselves. If they don’t, they’ll do one of two things: leave without purchasing or ask customer support. The goal of a strong knowledge base is to help customers quickly find answers to their questions before they decide to leave the website or contact customer support. Since 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase (eConsultancy), a great knowledge base is essential for any online business.
What makes a great knowledge base?
The four keys to a great knowledge base are: intuitive structure, consistency, media, and quality.
Organizing your knowledge base using an intuitive structure helps your customers quickly find what they’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to place the same content under multiple sections, if it makes sense. Every users thinks a little differently and may search for sections with different logic.
Make heading text meaningful and concise. Include keywords wherever possible. Users looking for specific subjects will often scan quickly for keywords in headings first. Once their eye catches a keyword they’ll look deeper into that piece of content. Try to make each heading distinct from others around it. This helps users scan even faster and more easily pick out the content they need.
With great headings and intuitive structure in your knowledge base, users will find the answers they’re looking for much faster, get less frustrated, and ultimately be more satisfied.
Consistency is important in all aspects of a knowledge base: structure, headings, content, and style. Consistency helps users maintain familiarity with your knowledge base, helping maintain their attention and making it easier to read.
Use the same deciding factors (whatever they may be) throughout your knowledge base structure. Maintain the same capitalization rules and voice (ideally active) wherever possible in your headings.
In your content, always use the same content structures for the same kinds of content. For example, use tables for data, bulleted lists for items with no required sequence and numbered lists when there is a required sequence.
Maintain consistent style by using the same font families, styles and sizes for the same types of content throughout your knowledge base. For example, use bold text for emphasis of important phrases or keywords. You can use different fonts for body, headings, and other types of content; just make sure you do it consistently throughout your knowledge base. This helps users discern between different types of content and their meaning.
“Show, don’t tell”, as they say. But when is it appropriate to show and when should you tell? Images and videos are great, but they can often serve as obstructions to simple tasks. When a task is only a few steps and very simple, using text-only instructions is often ideal. When there’s a possibility of confusion or the task is more complex, images can be very helpful.
When using images, it’s a good idea to highlight areas in the image with arrows, callouts, or boxes. This attracts the user’s focus to the important areas of the image.
Videos, in my opinion are only sometimes helpful. Not all users are willing to take the time required to watch a video. Videos are also not as convenient as text and images to step back a few steps when needed. I recommend videos as supplementary material and teaching tools. They are not the ideal medium for quick answers to customers’ questions.
Quality of content keeps the user’s attention and adds credibility to your knowledge base. Review your content and structure for spelling, grammar, consistency, and readability. Ask someone else to review it too. Many errors are often easy to spot, but it may take someone else to spot confusing content.
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Originally published at blog.besnappy.com on October 13, 2015.