Facebook needs “Help”. And so do you.

I spent this weekend curating how several popular apps offer help & accept feedback from customers. Here’s a 30 second tour of Facebook’s in-app help for you to hire someone to go out and build in a weekend-to-6-months. But should you?

Facebook (view on pinterest)

Facebook can afford to have 1 full-time designer/developer at $100k+/year building itself this sweet in-app help center.

Even if you have the time and resources to build it in-house, it can be difficult to get right.

ios/android/unity/web support, search & indexing FAQ’s, syncing FAQ’s, theming, offline access, identity, uploads, the CMS to compose FAQ’s itself, a web-based agent dashboard, push notifications, rendering & maintaining the chat thread, adding metadata & tagging issues, analytics, reporting, exports, sharing, migration, i18n, ACL’s, doh!

Trust me, these are interesting problems. But it may be time to let someone else worry about in-app help for you. Analytics has had its own set of challenges, and SAAS companies there too — (if they can figure out their pricing it seems from this interesting thread) can go beyond early adopters.

Supercell, Tinyco, Wordpress, Flipboard, Microsoft Outlook, Circa, and a number of large and fast-growing startups have made this shift to let someone else power the experience when a user clicks “Help”. That’s a pretty powerful responsibility. The native SDK’s fit seamlessly within the app and looks great. Have a look for yourself. Here’s Findery’s help experience:

Findery (view on pinterest)

And here’s me getting a reply on one of the doubts I had about Microsoft Outlook. The experience is very chat like, and I got my issue resolved in under 2 minutes.

Microsoft Outlook ( view on pinterest )

You can find the rest of the 40+ in-app help screens here; filed under “in-app help” on Pinterest and organized by each app. Several of them surprisingly don’t have a native help experience or redirect users to Safari, or just initiate an email thread.

Ladies and gentleman — its 2015. Much like in-app analytics, in-app help desk’s have crossed the chasm. Your users deserve a native and beautiful in-app help experience.

Build vs Integrate

In other words, if someone in your team is spending more than a day a month doing X — you’re already doing too much. X could easily be substituted with any feature a typical SAAS company provides really. Analytics, Translation, Help, Packaging, Delivery, Payroll, Legal. You name it. It may sound like a good time to run a SAAS company, but it’s an even better time to be a customer : )

If you’re a developer working on an in-house X, you should start looking to make something not just better — but exponentially better. Or perhaps find some other value-add to contribute to. I was there myself. When was the last time someone in your company worked on an SMTP server, a STUN or telephony PBX just to communicate with your users. On the other hand — the founders of Twilio or Plivo — came together to create these infra startups and that’s fine too, because you can go beyond helping just one company. “course correction baby!”

If you’re a startup founder, save that $50k (and send me a postcard!) Save those months of your Android/iOS developer’s time building a half-baked in-app help software OR a “responsive” over the weekend quassi-web-mobile FAQ’s tweaked for webkit just to re-invent the wheel.

If your app does not have an in-app help desk, you can integrate one in under 30 minutes.

You will be surprised the first time you try out a native in-app help desk

  • Better customer satisfaction
  • Higher ratings for your app
  • Genuine feedback on where your product sucks/scores.
  • Quantified data to back feature/fix prioritisation.
  • Stats on which FAQ’s your users found useful, and more analytics
  • Ticket deflection if you organize your FAQ’s well.
  • And so much more.

It’s time to focus on newer and better problems

Like a new user waiting for you to answer their questions about your app every morning. Or turning a refund request into an upgrade. Or getting your designer 1-to-1 UX feedback from passionate users. I kid you not — these are scenes our customers find themselves in every other day- (more on the blog). Some apps now even have large teams of player specialists, agents, editors and community specialists all working improving customer satisfaction and connecting with your community. Which is why they’re also flocking out of their traditional email based ticketing systems when they see how far ahead in-app help is today. Zendesk’s “product debt” won’t let them think beyond email, and nobody will call them out. Your customers deserve a native and beautiful experience.

Pick any one! It will change your customer’s expectation of customer satisfaction forever. In fact with billions of devices with apps that have an in-app mobile help desk already, it may already have.

@bhaskerkode builds stuff you’ll need tomorrow, today at @Helpshift
You can browse hundreds of in-app help screens curated for this post at
https://www.pinterest.com/inapphelp/