4 Examples of Brilliant Help Authoring

February 26, 2021

Help Authoring Hero image

Regardless of your product, brand or customer experience, customers will still have questions you’ll need to solve via customer service or great help authoring. And if you have a complicated product like a technology offering or financial service, these questions are likely to be frequent. 

In this post, we’ll look into four examples of companies with brilliant help authoring and offer actionable insights that you can apply to providing help to your customers.

What’s Help Authoring? 

While human customer service agents can be a helpful resource for complicated questions, many simpler use cases are typically handled via help authoring—that is, writing or other documentation that allows customers to easily solve some of their own issues. 

Help authoring can take many forms, from FAQ to tours and beyond, but its essential feature is that it is lasting documentation aimed at making your product more understandable and accessible to your users. 

Why Is Help Authoring Important? 

#1. Customers Have Demanding Expectations

Nowadays, 51% of customers expect businesses to be available 24/7, and 66% of customers feel that a company valuing their time is the most important thing they can do to provide a good customer experience. In addition, 75% of customers expect to be helped with their concerns within 5 minutes of asking. 

#2. Humans Have Trouble Meeting Those Expectations

Some companies might be able to handle that need for customer support via 24/7 human customer service agents, but an easier way to meet a lot of that need is help authoring that can be available 24/7 without the limitations of a human employee. 

For many companies, decreasing the need for customer service agents with better help authoring can make a huge improvement to ROI in addition to customer satisfaction. Customer service agents are very expensive resources, and good help authoring often has no cost at all save the original design and implementation work. 

Some Companies Doing It Right

There are many ways you can approach this need for help authoring; here are a few examples of companies that have gotten it right. Some of these are more traditional FAQ-based approaches, but there are also a number of companies using compelling, exciting new technologies like Nickelled’s guided tours to take their help authoring to the next level. 

#1. How Gengo Streamlined Onboarding For Translators

Gengo’s Challenge

When Gengo—a site that facilitates human translation across the globe by connecting people with translation needs to a network of over 21,000 translators across the globe—started thinking about their help authoring needs, they decided to think outside the box. 

Their main challenge in providing good customer service to their customers centered around getting new translators effectively on boarded onto the platform. In addition to being good user experience, they also knew that getting as many translators onboarded as possible would add value for their buyers. 

They also wanted the ability to effectively track and measure the progress of translators being onboarded and their discovery of key features of the site. However, they didn’t want the pain of a hefty technical build. 

Gengo’s Help Authoring

In response to this problem, Gengo turned to Nickelled for help. Nickelled provides immersive guided tours—integrated seamlessly into Gengo’s website—that were perfect for Gengo’s needs. It prompted new users to explore the app fully and utilize features such as useful additional software. 

In addition, Nickelled’s localization features allowed Gengo to provide this customer experience to customers in different locales across the globe. 

Gengo’s Results

The results were fantastic—Nickelled was able to provide tours to very new translators, and a main effect of that was that the percentage of translators that picked up jobs within the first 12 weeks increased dramatically from 38% to 60%. 

Gengo’s innovative approach to help authoring demonstrates that help authoring doesn’t need to be old-fashioned. Oftentimes, being inventive is the best way to do business.  

#2. IRS

The IRS’s Challenge

When determining how best to provide answers to their customers when they arise, the IRS certainly had their work cut out for them. As an extremely complicated governmental entity, their customers were likely to be very confused very often, and the answers weren’t simple. 

The IRS’s Help Authoring

Simplifying The Complicated

It might have been simple or tempting for the IRS to simply put wordy legal text all over their website, but luckily, they decided to go in another direction. Contrary to what you might expect, the IRS help page is notably elegant and streamlined.

Careful Placement of Resources

When you click into the help page, it’s easy to tell that a lot of thought has been put into the placement of resources. For example, the top items on the main help page are “Coronavirus Tax Relief,” “Tax Refund Status,” and “Payments and Penalties.” 

Especially in a time when many people are suffering financially, it is a great help authoring decision to put questions that are most relevant to people who might be most concerned about paying taxes and receiving refunds near the top of the section.

In addition, each of these section headers links to a list of useful articles and tools, which allows the customer to find a wealth of useful information from simply visiting one main help page. 

Hiding The Less Important In Plain Sight

On the flip side, topics that are more important but less relevant for most IRS customers, such as “Fraud/Scams,” are found in sub-pages that are extremely easy to navigate to but not distracting for customers who aren’t looking for them. 

The IRS’s Results

Overall, the IRS has done a fantastic job with their help authoring, effectively condensing a very large amount of information into an easily digestible form. For an entity whose “product” is notoriously complicated, that’s a real feat. 


Gumtree’s Challenges

A Unique User Base

Gumtree, the UK’s largest source for local community classifieds, faced an interesting challenge when deciding how to approach their help authoring. Their issue was that most of their customers were one-time customers. That is, they were typically very unfamiliar with the site. 

Most sites do not encounter this problem, because they are catered towards repeat users. For example, most people consistently use social media sites, rather than just visiting each once. However, as a marketplace, Gumtree attracted many one-time sellers. 

Customer Confusion

That meant that many of Gumtree’s users were confused about platform functionality. While some of those issues could be solved via user experience improvements, some of them were still generating large numbers of simple, repetitive questions to customer service. 

Some of those questions included “how do I post an ad?” and “how do I stop email alerts?” Gumtree decided there had to be a better way, and as a result, ended up working with Nickelled to solve their issues. 

Gumtree’s Help Authoring

After identifying the most commonly asked simple questions, Gumtree created Nickelled tours to guide customers through the answers to their most frequent concerns. This allowed Gumtree to provide easy, accurate, 24/7 customer service with no human resources. 

Gumtree’s Results

This pivot to tour-based customer service created an 88% satisfaction score among customers who utilized it, about 10% higher than other customer service channels. And that translated to Gumtree’s bottom line, too. After implementing Nickelled tours, they saw a 470% increase to ROI. 

Nowadays, Gumtree’s tour-based help authoring handles nearly a third of all customer support requests.


Wikipedia’s Focus on Native Design

When authoring their help section, Wikipedia opted to keep their user experience simple and recognizable. In a nutshell, their help page is just a Wikipedia page like any other, filled with helpful links and content. 

The page acts as a hub or table of contents that can send users to more in-depth Wikipedia help articles based on their needs, e.g. reading an article or editing an article. It is identical in format to other “contents” pages across Wikipedia. 

Creating the Innovative from the Familiar

While you might think that re-using their existing user experience for the help section is lazy, on the contrary, it’s a very purposeful and intelligent move. It keeps the customer experience for Wikipedia articles very cohesive across the board.

Also, Wikipedia as a site is literally optimized to distribute information to its users—why should its help section follow a different format if their basic flow already effectively distributes that information? 

Don’t Get Too Creative

Wikipedia’s help authoring provides a good reminder that good help authoring doesn’t always need to mean completely reinventing the wheel for the sake of innovation. While innovation can be compelling, it’s not always necessary.  

Why You Should Invest in a Help Authoring Platform

Need a good reasons to invest in your help authoring strategy? Actually, there are several, but here are some of our favorites:

Not Every Brand Has the Same Needs

Help authoring doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Different companies, brands, and products will call for different approaches to help authoring. For some companies, like Wikipedia, a traditional approach might be best. For others, like Gengo and Gumtree, innovating with your help authoring with a tool like Nickelled might work best for you. 

Look Towards The Future

While there are many different ways to do a help authoring strategy, you need to define where the user pains first lie before proceeding with your choice. The reality is, having only a human customer service agent-based approach to customer support is likely unsustainable and unsuitable for most customers.

But what if data suggests that the same questions are being asked? What if users are experiencing the same issues regularly throughout the week? If these issues are identical, it may be time to invest in a help authoring strategy to usher frustrated users towards, instead of relying on costly customer support queries. 

Invest In Helpful Systems That Scale

Investing in a help authoring strategy will always have positive effects on your company. Having customer service support is important. In the long run, effective documentation can empower your customers by helping them do what they want with minimal friction and human interaction.

The more effective your help authoring workflow is, the better it will actively respond to customer queries without the help of support. This is a system that scales in the long-run, as it relies on minimal human interaction. 

Use Nickelled Today

Adapting to customers’ changing needs and expectations can be challenging, but there’s no reason it needs to be for help authoring. With a little bit of thought and research, you too can effectively find the best approach for your needs. 

Looking for simple tutorial software that’s completely immersive, requires no installation to use, and can give you real-time insights on the way users interact with your product? Try Nickelled today.