Seeing the Same Questions Over and Over? Here’s How To Stop the Insanity.

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Seeing the Same Questions Over and Over? Here’s How To Stop the Insanity.

April 10, 2013 Thoughts on Support 0

If you’re buried in support emails from customers, stop and think about why they’re asking so many questions. Chances are, they’re asking you via email because they can’t find the answers themselves. Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where our product explained itself, and if a customer was confused they could find the answer to their questions without bothering you?

As someone who’s made a career of answering customer support questions, I can tell you that would be an amazing scenario. But alas, it’s not what we normally encounter – in fact I find more and more that people are putting off customer support emails because it’s so overwhelming to answer the same questions every day. There’s a solution to this, though, and it’s just investing the time in creating a thorough, searchable help section for your customers. Having easy-to-access educational materials online is the only thing that will reduce your support volume over time.

Let’s say you have 100 customers and 5 of those customers have the same questions about your product. When you have 200 customers, 10 more people may have the same question. But let’s say over the course of 6 months you suddenly find yourself with 10,000 active users. That will most likely mean 500 people who have the same question, which only equates to 500 additional support requests for you to answer. If you’re like me, you’d rather answer this question one time.

There’s a popular adage that every support email reflects a failure in your product design. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but I do think that every support email tells us what information we are missing in our online help section. If we start paying attention to what people are asking and have an open mind about it, we start to see how we can be better about explaining our intentions with our app, and make the learning curve shorter for new customers.

If you’re wondering where to start writing your Help section and don’t have a lot of customer questions already, here’s a great way to see what your customers need: Ask a friend, relative or colleague who’s never used your app before to play around with it front of you. Watch which buttons they click first, write down every question they ask you, and try and see the product from a real new-users perspective, not just predicting how you think a new user will act. Since you built your app you have an idea of what you think people will ask you. But nothing will ever tell you for sure what questions people have except real user data.

Next, watch what your customers are really asking. If you answer the same question more than 3 times per week, it needs to be in your Help section. This isn’t optional! The next time you’re asked the same question, write your answer, then copy and paste it into your knowledge base before you send the reply email. From then on, instead of answering the question outright in your email, say to your customer, “We’ve answered this in detail over in our help section!” and send them the direct link.

I always like to tell our customers to start with 10 simple questions in a help section and to answer them all with a detailed response and a screenshot. From those 10 questions, create 10 more that are related. An average knowledge base for an app 6 months-old or younger contains 30 FAQs and is searchable and categorized for easy perusal. For an app over 1 year-old with more than 5,000+ active users, you’ll need to have a help section double that size and add on at least 3 in-depth tutorials or video walkthroughs.

Maybe you’re thinking this all sounds like too much work when you’re already busy building the next Instagram. Well take heart – almost every helpdesk product offers a searchable knowledge base built right in, all you have to do is add the content. And think of it this way: Having a quick search box where a customer can search for their question and get your answer means they never have to write you a support email in the first place.