On average, you have 10 to 20 seconds to make an impression on a customer visiting your website or product. During that brief window of time, you need to grab their attention and deliver on your promise. But what happens when a customer has a question? Or gets lost or stuck within your product and isn’t sure what to do? That’s not the kind of user experience you want to provide. 

In many of these cases, the customer will over to your application’s help center. When you think of a help center, you might think of a question-and-forum or a repository of articles that you need to search through. However, help centers can take many forms, from in-app content to live chat to their own separate space. No matter what the format is, the key to a successful help center is to deliver the information a customer needs as quickly as possible. 

Are you setting up your help center, and not sure where to start? If so, we’ve put together some do’s and don’ts of how to build yours, all aimed at enabling your customers to get the information they’re looking for without too much hassle. 

Don’t: Make pages too long 

Imagine the following scenario. You are a customer who gets stuck in part of your app. You then head to the help center for guidance, only to find a page with paragraph upon paragraph of information that is totally irrelevant to your question. After a few minutes of searching, you get incredibly frustrated. In the end, you close out of your product, perhaps never to return again. Breaking down your help center content into digestible, easy to follow steps will ensure your customers find the exact answer they need without having to scroll. The last thing you want is for them to search for a question and have to dig through a page for answers. 

Do: Regularly verify the content inside your help center

As your product grows, your help center can become more and more cluttered with information. Some of it might even be outdated or totally inaccurate. As a result, customers searching for answers might end up finding incorrect information, leading to a negative experience. Consider putting together a help center committee within your organization to keep a pulse on content. This can be a mix of writers, support team members, and members of your success team who are regularly searching for answers to help serve your customers. They will be your biggest advocates in ensuring content stays up-to-date. 

Don’t: Provide an inconsistent experience across your product and your help center

Keeping a consistent tone of voice throughout your product is key. In fact, brands that don’t keep a consistent voice are in danger of losing customers. But what about when a customer heads to your help center? Is everything suddenly different? The last thing you want is for a customer to have a completely different experience in one place versus the other. Keeping a consistent design, tone, and structure to the way you communicate with customers in your help center is critical to giving them that level of consistency. 

Do: Use analytics to understand common themes

Looking to find out where your customers are getting stuck in your product? Analytics will show you the way. Tracking the most commonly used search terms and help center page views can inform your product team of where to add more useful text. If you do find that customers are consistently looking for the same answers, tools like Pendo can guide customers to the information they need, all without having to leave your product. 

No matter how you structure your help center, making information easy to access is the most important factor. While the goal should be for your customers to visit the help center as infrequently as possible, these tips can help ensure that when they do visit, they get a world-class support experience. 

About the Author

Kim Blight is the product operations lead at Sprout Social. She’s passionate about product teams, advocating for parents in the workforce, and women in tech. When not hanging out with her son and family, she can be found writing or watching the NBA.