40% of consumers now prefer self-service over human contact because consumers actually like the autonomy and speed they get through using self-service. It also saves your support organization exorbitant costs because answers that live in knowledge articles can prevent a ticket from being created. It’s important that the article not only contain the answer, but that the answer is easy to find and easy to understand.
Here are 9 tips to follow for writing effective knowledge articles:
1. Use keywords in the title: Articles are for your customers and not your internal team. Thus, you want to use simple, clear, and concise language that maps to the words that customers use. To come up with the names of the articles, you can look at the language your customers use in their tickets today and draw out words that they use to describe the issue.
2. Use your customers’ own words: When choosing between staying on brand and using customers’ own words, what should you do? If the goal is to help the customer find what they’re looking for, then use the words customers use or else customers won’t find what they’re looking for. For example, there’s a car sharing company that calls the location the car is parked as the “home location.” That is a term the company came up with themselves, and when customers search for car location, they can’t find the article they need.
3. One article per specific use case: People don’t like to toggle from article to article, and they don’t like to read long blocks of texts either. The best way to structure knowledge articles is to have one article per specific topic. To do this, search for common questions customers have and look at the types of questions per specific topic. If the questions are related, then put all the questions in one article, separated by sections of the different questions. Zendesk does this well.
4. Use clear and concise titles: Article titles are a significant factor in sourcing relevant information. Titles such as "Resolving issues related to entering your account" are terrible. "Login Issues" would make more sense. By using simple wording and the same vernacular that your customers use, you maximize your chances of getting good matches. For this reason, you should also be careful with your wording. If many of your articles repeat chunks of the same text, this will be very difficult to isolate which article solves the customer’s question. Having simple, easy to understand content with little-to-no fluff goes a long way.
5. Start off by describing the problem: When customers are coming to your support center, they most likely have a problem that needs to be solved. By then, their emotions are more elevated than normal, and the best way to care for them is to empathize with them. The best way to empathize with the customer is to start the article by writing out the problem they are experiencing the way they would ask it.
6. Use lists for step-by-step instructions: A long block of text is incredibly intimidating, especially when the customer is in the middle of an issue. Help the customer digest information by breaking it down into the simplest steps.
7. Add related article links: If customers do not find what they are looking for with the first article OR if it requires more than one article to solve the customer’s issue, it would be best to link to other related articles in the article. We’ve seen that customers tend to go through 3-4 articles before submitting a ticket, so having related articles linked can help prevent tickets from being created if the answer exists in article 2 or 3.
8. Utilize images + videos in conjunction with text: Images can be extremely helpful when creating articles as they often can show customers how to resolve their issue. However, for that article to be used in automation, we would have to be able to understand the text without the context of the image. The best articles for AI have simple explanations that can be understood without images, but are greatly amplified by the image's presence.
9. Understand when enough is good enough: Articles don't need to be perfect. Obsessing about the perfect article can be counterproductive if too much time is devoted. Simplicity is key. Think of your 10 most common issues and help customers solve them as simply as possible. Forethought’s gap detection can help you identify areas where content needs to be created and whether the current articles aren't working to answer questions. If you are making brand new articles, your first pass will be far from your last pass. A good guiding rod is to look at results - are the articles in circulation answering the questions they aim to?
Want some tips for the tone you should take in your articles? Here are some of our suggestions:
1. Write like you speak: Newspaper articles are written for a 6th grade reading level. You should too! Complex issues explained with simple terms or with metaphors help customers digest the information, and they feel confident that they can service themselves vs. working with your agents.
2. Use an active and not passive voice: The more confident your tone, the more your customers will believe in your advice.
3. Have fun: Oftentimes, customers are already frustrated by the time they search for a help article. Your tone will communicate just as much as your words, so if you show care and add moments of delight into your articles, your customers will pick up on that and that emotional bond will help dissolve some of the frustration.