Content for a Crowd
Writing content for customers at multiple skill levels can feel a bit like teaching a class full of learners from every grade—depending on experience and skill, you have to craft high-quality, reusable content that won’t condescend to one end of the spectrum, or overwhelm the other. Reusable content prevents duplicated effort, saves time, and cuts down on development costs.
It Begins with the Knowledge Base
Customer service and support personnel using Desk.com correspond with a large number of customers by email. For this delivery method, your content strategy begins with a vibrant Knowledge Base and a collection of default responses to commonly-asked questions. Knowledge Base topics and default answers are constantly updated in order to make it easy to locate the information you need and get it quickly into an email to your customer. (Read more about the Knowledge Base.) Information from the Knowledge Base can be available to your customers as searchable FAQs (if you choose to make content public).
It’s important to oversee the tone and style of the answers to frequently-requested information to present a consistent “voice.” This will save time, lower development costs, and prevent duplication of effort.
About Multi-Purpose Content
Writers and editors know that responding through email is much different from in-person or telephone conversations. With a written response, there are no facial or voice cues, so it’s best to use language that is authoritative and polite at the same time. Additionally, you must write as if millions will view and dissect your message. A written message lives forever. No pressure . . . .
Here are some tested practices to guide you in writing for both the Knowledge Base and for use as email responses to commonly-asked questions.
Write to Empower the User
When addressing multiple skill levels, it is crucial to keep information from appearing intimidating and overwhelming. More inexperienced users must have the information they need, while more advanced users should be able to quickly ascertain where they can find the more technical or advanced information they are looking for. A good model of this kind of information mapping is the popular Dummies franchise.
- Address one topic per paragraph
- Simplify complicated topics by separating information into logical sections with subheads
- Use short sentences and bullet lists
- Be positive and affirming
- For process instruction, use a step-by-step or numbered approach
Develop a Consistent Style and Tone
A good use of management oversight is in the development of a sort of “corporate style” and tone that can bridge the Knowledge Base, FAQs, and support responses with end users. This effort pays off because it will cut down on confusion and help make content reusable and effective.
- When you are writing to instruct, don’t try to sell or market. You will be seen as untrustworthy.
- Think about terminology. Use wording consistently throughout the organization to avoid confusion.
- Use an authentic, professional tone; visualize your reader as a real person.
- Never refer to the reader as “a user.”
- Use the active voice (e.g., “Cut it” not “It is cut”)
- Don’t patronize or condescend, and proofread to catch any language that could sound like “talking down.”
- Banish jargon and slang; define new terms before integrating them into content.
Role and Challenges of a Support/Service Content Strategist
As a content strategist working in customer service and support, your challenge is to insure that the right content is available at the right time—and in the right format. Smart customer support content is well written, easily accessible, reusable, and adaptable as changes occur and new information is added.
Support Content Is Continually Monitored and Updated
In order to create and deliver content, you need to know the customer, understand the challenges faced by support staff, and appreciate that customer support and service content is never “finished,” but rather a moving target fed by the feedback loops among the customer, support staff, and management. It’s wise to approach content writing from the point of view of agility rather than perfection.
Additional information about FAQs and Content Library:
- Superior Customer Service: Building Better Rapport With Your Customers
- 3 Effective, Long-Term Customer Service Strategies
- A Customer-Focused CEO & Support Team at Squarespace
- Desk.com Unveils Multilingual Customer Support – Now Any Business Can Easily Support Global Customers
- Simple Steps to Create and Customize your First Support Center