Help Desk Tips is a weekly series featuring best practices and tips from support professionals on optimizing your help desk and support department.

There’s little use in creating great help content if people can’t easily access it.

You want to make it available where (and when) they are most likely to look for help. One of those places is inside your app, on your product dashboard, or behind your customer login. Because customers don’t like switching channels to get a resolution, it’s especially important to keep the problem solving momentum in these locations.

Companies like MailChimp recognize this, and they’ve taken steps to move their knowledge base inside their interface. But as nice as the end result is, custom jobs take up a lot of developer time. Maintaining them, or making changes, eats up more time and could create a bottleneck on a small team.

Fortunately, there’s an easier way. Beacon can be used as a modal pop-up inside your app, enabling customers to access your Docs content in a single click. Let’s look at how that works.

Use Beacon to make documentation accessible in-app

A Beacon can be a modal window triggered whenever users click a button, icon, or link. Pop-over Beacons are great if you want to keep the Beacon off to the side, giving customers access to help articles without navigating away from the page.

 

In this example from inside the Help Scout dashboard, we’ve set a Beacon modal to pop-up whenever a customer clicks on the “Get Help” dropdown. Once accessed, customers can search through our entire Docs knowledge base or select from a list of our most popular articles

If a customer needs additional help, they can click the “Send Message” button to send a note to our support team that includes the article they were viewing.

customer conversation

This is useful for making iterative improvements to your help content from active customers who are getting in touch. If they read your article and still needed help, what stopped their progress?

  • Was it a misunderstanding? Perhaps your writing could be clearer, or maybe a screenshot, a video, or a GIF could show customers what to do instead of just telling them.
  • Was the information out of date? Products are moving targets; they change quickly, causing your content to go out of date before you know it. While regular audits help prevent major oversights, customers will often spot old screenshots or instructions you may have missed.
  • Was the information incomplete? When you write your knowledge base articles, you try to imagine all customer use cases and all potential blockades, but you can’t predict everything with 100 percent accuracy. Customers will alert you when information, instructions or examples are missing — it’s your job to fill in the gaps once you hear about them.

Last but not least, a modal is useful because it feels native and doesn’t take up precious real estate inside your interface. Live chat and embeddable tools are undeniably useful, but customers have already developed a bit of blindness to them — many even use extensions like AdBlock to block them entirely.

Beacon modals offer a less intrusive alternative; they are just a click away, and the customer chooses to seek them out before they take up space on the screen.

Read more: Working with Beacon

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Justin Seymour

About the author: Justin Seymour is the customer support team lead at Help Scout.