Do you have help documents for your customers?
What are help documents?
Help documents contain information about the way a product or service works. Whether they are called User Manuals, Guides, Documentations, etc., the primary goal is to provide instructions and help to answer questions.
Why do we need help documents?
Users need help documents to successfully understand how to get the most out of the product or solution they are using. A sign of a well-planned solution is that the new user is able to quickly understand the features and benefits of the product and get started quickly. Often the nature of the product or solution is simple enough that a user does not need instructions. A good example in the product world is a wine opener or a flashlight. In the software world it could a simple game where you flick a ball into a net, or a utility application that allows to you write a note on the screen. These types of products are often “self-explanatory”.
However, as we encounter more complex and sophisticated products, help documents become a critical part of ensuring your users have the best experience with your product.
As the owner of the product, you have likely spent incredible amount of time and resources to get the product into market, and even more to acquire your customers.
Unfortunately, customers today have a very short attention span and are impatient when trying something new or “testing out” a new product. First impression is a big aspect of their decision to continue using the product so it’s never enough to finally get a customer, but to be able to retain that customer.
Half of users that abandon a product do so
because they don’t know how to use it.
This is where a help documents make the difference. Clear and concise instructions that are relevant can not only invite your user to use the product as you intended, but also allow them to learn the details of its features.
Help documents clarify how your product or service works. A customer that is trying your product for the first time will be new to every aspect of your product, while a savvy user may understand as they use it, there will be a lot of guessing and trial-and-error.
When a help document is easily available (such as link within the application itself) you have an opportunity to remove the guess work from your customers. This will not only remove frustration from your customers, but also ensures they are not using your product incorrectly, causing them to believe the product is defective or inferior.
There are many incredible products today, and for mobile apps and software, they are very sophisticated and powerful. The beauty of that technology is that the software is now literally in your hands to access at any time.
However, there is one downside – it has to fit on a device no larger than your hand. As much as that’s an incredible benefit, there is very limited space on the screen to present content and controls for your users. This is the number one reason software designers use icons to represent an idea, instead of having to write out text.
This is the same thing on physical products. A good example is a car key. Every car key now has at least 4 buttons with just images but does not explain on the key what they do.
As much as these methods are effective and necessary, a clear help document to complement is a must to avoid any confusion on those features, especially when it’s far more that what the button does.
Help documents provide the opportunity to highlight all of the features of a product or service. This information can be helpful when others are evaluating their needs against what you have to offer.
As the product planner, you have chosen the primary and secondary level of features for your users. Typically, the top features are what your users first experience when they try it for the first time and as they continue to use the solution, they discover the depth of your product.
The risk that every solution provider face is this: Will my customer that is using my product fully explore my product before incorrectly deciding that my product has feature gaps?
Help documents have a unique opportunity to present features you want your customers to know by highlighting them appropriately. Imagine if you had a search feature in your app and as a user uses it, you provide additional help document to search better using key words like “AND”. You have instantly made that user a more knowledgeable and capable user of your software.
Build Consumer Confidence
Ultimately when you provide your users with a clear path to understanding your product better and in detail, they will have confidence in the product. That confidence is an absolute requirement for any customer retention, because confidence combined with the strength of the product leads to a loyal customer and sometimes as an ambassador for the solution.
As you continue to improve and enhance your solution to get to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, it’s also equally important to continuously educate your users on the enhancements to grow that relationship them.
The importance of help documents, and information is something we all know is important. The issue typically is not that we don’t believe in its effectiveness but often do not get an opportunity to address it.
Top reasons are:
•No time or not a priority
•Too costly to add a manual or guide
•Don’t have resources to manage it
•Not sure where to start
Our hope is that we not only highlight why you need help documents but also provide a solution to get over these issues on having effective help documents.
Use a help tool that isn’t cumbersome
Because help documents are typically a final stage of a product going to market, it’s often a chore to complete. That’s why we believe it needs to be as easy and painless as possible.
Comma Owl is our online documentation tool, specifically designed to edit and publish all online through the browser that will instantly generate a unique URL for your documents to use on your product.
At $49/YEAR with unlimited access and content, combined with how easy it is, we hope it will solve the problem that so many wonderful products suffer from – lack of documentation.