Website #help and #support systems should #avoid #FAQ

Website help and support systems should avoid FAQ’s

FAQ’s are very much vested in intranet thinking, that assumes if users want help they work for us and know the terminology and have similar tasks / goals to other users on the internal net. Websites conversely support users from every experience of life, who while focused on a product or service are not professionals in that product or service.

FAQ’s rely on users knowing what the are looking for in the same way the dictionary works. So if I know your jargon, I can find the help I’m looking for. What happens to normal human beings who just want help? For the most part they are frustrated by poor technology and worse poor thinking which reduces their trust in companies and brands.

Building a modern support system is about users not information silos

Users tend to look for help in a specific context, i.e. to their problem, in the age of custom publishing and personalisation its really simple to provide in context help. Not only does contextual help aid users it provides key management information for companies to understand both their customers (user behaviour) and their products or services (performance) as they are used.

Other types of help

If FAQ’s are not usable, what is?

  • How to (video, steppers)
  • Diagnostics (decision trees, interactive triggers in video)
  • Discovery (demo, calculators, scenarios, community of use)

If FAQ’s are the only content you have you may end up having to use them as the authors may now be senior staff, but someone should think about users first. When users think of the company or brand is it from the perspective of their experience or word of mouth experience.

What does your help and support system tell people about you?

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O2 support has awful usability

O2 gets points for trying

I like other users were quite happy when O2 decided to spend some time and money to tie together their various online systems to at least give the appearance of a unified system. You can tell it’s all user experience and no information architecture though, everything links so there are no dead ends, unfortunately the information being sought is missing it’s an annoying merry go round.

Lucy help box in O2O2 fakes live support

The thing that I cannot think of an excuse for is an automated support search tool built to look like live support. Dear Lucy you gave me hope, then you took it away, you made me think O2 cared about me and the business I bring them. But no your not real your a search tool, that’s not really all that good. Changing interactive and interaction metaphors is indeed very brave and extraordinarily stupid as it aggravates users. For users in a support system the normal response is to look for another service supplier or phone up to vent on someone.

Still at least there was a feedback form for me to say how pathetic the experience was. Feedback form for fake live support

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