5 Tips You Can Use Now to Improve Your Bottom Line

Good user guides improve your bottom line

Photo: TheBusyBrain (Flickr)

Did you know that making some quick changes to your user guide could improve your company’s bottom line? It’s true! If you’ve got bad instructions, you’ll pay for it with higher tech support costs and a loss of revenue in future sales. Poor user guides create frustrated customers, and frustrated customers return the favor by returning the product, avoiding repeat purchases, and even posting bad reviews.

And it’s not like only a few of your customers will bump into your user guide. Research shows that 90% of your customers use (or try to use) your product instructions. That’s a lot of people to alienate.

But a quick audit of your user guide can help you find key ways to make your instructions enjoyable and easy to use—and that makes your product enjoyable and easy to use!

Here’s five ways you can improve your user help now.

check1.       Accuracy

Chances are your product has evolved over its life cycle. Has your user guide evolved with it? Few things are more vexing to your customers than inaccurate instructions—and few things make your company look amateurish as quickly.

book2.       Readability

Your help should be easy to read, with a light tone that’s professional but friendly (although sometimes a different tone is better—make it fit the audience!). Read through the user guide and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it easy to read, or do I have to work at it?
  • Can I skim through it pretty well?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Does the tone fit the audience, or does it feel stiff, awkward, or somehow inappropriate?

search3.       Searchability

Whether your help is online, embedded in the software, or a traditional manual, your users want to find answers fast. Develop a list of common questions (tech support might have some input there!) and ask test subjects to find the answers in your user guide. See how long it takes them and take copious notes. Also pay attention to any frustration or confusion they express.

www4.       Findability

Make sure it’s easy for your users to find your user guide in the first place! If they don’t know where to find it, they’ll never get the help they need. Or, more likely, they’ll do a web search and get the help they need from someone else—meaning you’ve just made your customer dig around through several forums and YouTube searches for something you should have provided. Rather than be the go-to source for all your customers’ needs, you’re now annoying and inconsiderate. This is a great way to ensure you don’t get repeat customers.

If your user guide is online, do an SEO check and make sure it comes up at the top of the search results. Check your website to be sure that help is prominent and easy to find. If you distribute a manual, make sure the cover is bold and attractive, and that it’s the first thing your customer sees when they open the packaging.

pictures5.       Aesthetics

Attractive user guides inspire confidence, and they draw your customers in. Well-designed instructions are more enjoyable to use, which means your customers will enjoy your product more too.

Go through your user guide to make sure it looks attractive and check for the following:

  • Good use of colors
  • Attractive, easy-to-read typeface
  • Attractive formatting
  • Smart selection of images

If the mere thought of spending time in your user guide makes you groan, you’ve got a problem. Actually, you’ve probably got several of them!  But the sooner you address the issues, the sooner your product will become more effective. You’ll reduce the burden on tech support and reduce support costs, strengthen your brand, and bolster your customers’ loyalty.

In the end (*snicker*), improving your user guides improves your bottom line!