Imagine walking into a massive, empty supermarket.

The rows are endless, the shelves are stacked high with products. There’s no-one else there.

Heaven right? Finally, you can do your shopping in peace!

But wait… How do you find that elusive jar of sun-dried tomatoes? Who can you ask about whether there are any fresher flowers available? And at the end, who’s going to scan all that stuff so you can pay for it?

Unfortunately, we all need help – whether we like it or not. Online, we’re used to being independent, and we think we can manage by ourselves — but statistics suggest that’s not the case.

Our experience suggests that one in three customers will need to contact support, and if they have a bad experience doing it, they’ll stop using a product straight away.

So that help desk you’ve got? It’s a double-edged sword, my friend.

Use it correctly, and your customers will be happier, will pay you more, and will tell their friends about you.

Provide a poor experience, and it’ll be the reverse — and according to Groove, one angry customer can result in 16 “anti-referrals”.

In short, if you’re not permanently looking for ways to improve help desk performance, you should be.

Be honest – is your support desk laying dormant and gathering dust, instead of helping you to grow your business?

Perhaps, it’s for one of these reasons…

1 – Too wordy

Ever came across the abbreviation ‘TL;DR’?

It means ‘too long; didn’t read’, which you can safely translate to ‘too lazy; didn’t read’.

Let’s face it, FAQs are boring. And not to mention, they get pretty lengthy, especially if the product or service you’re selling is complex.

If that’s the case, you’d need to have a comprehensive knowledge base in place, but there’s an obvious downside – people tend to be too lazy (or busy!) to sieve through all that content to have a chance at finding what they seek.

For an existing customer, they may spend some time getting through all that FAQs or just drop you an email with questions you may have already answered. But for a prospective customer, they may simply hop to your competitors’ sites instead.

2 – Too needy

Based on a research by Zendesk most customers prefer self-service portals over speaking to a company representative.

If your support desk consists too much information (refer to point #1 again) or just contact details, perhaps that’s why your customers are not inclined to use your support desk to help themselves.

3 – Too slow

For better and worse, we are now in an era which Forrester calls “Age of the Customer”

Consumers today are empowered and have high expectations on brands, because they can access them anywhere. With more choices than ever, today’s customers expect superior experiences from businesses – including immediate, responsive service.

Think about it – waiting on hold for customer service is mostly a thing of the past.

Besides being too lazy to pick up the phone or email you, a live chat’s “25 people in queue” or an automated email responder’s “we’ll get back to you within 48 hours” may now send your customer directly to your competitors.

Since immediacy is now vital, is your support desk able to provide real-time assistance along with accuracy?

4 – Too ugly

Sometimes, you’ve got to think like Steve Jobs.

When crafting your FAQ section and support desk, always take the small details into account. Everything from line spacing, font size, layout, organisation to whitespace will make a difference between people reading it or skipping it.

Keep it simple, but not bland. Make your content memorable by organising the information within proper headings, instead of clumping them all together.

Plenty of whitespaces also gives your help section room to ‘breathe’, inviting your customers to skim it over instead of feeling overwhelmed.

5 – Not visible

Is your help section stowed away in the footer of your website? Or is it buried beneath deep menu hierarchies?

If your customers are already bothered with their burning questions, the last thing they need is additional frustration from a confusing navigation.

Place links to support content at the top of your navigation bar, and in the footer, and consider using always-on widgets to ensure customers always have access with a single click.

Great support is nothing to be ashamed of – you shouldn’t have to hide it away.

6 – Not mobile friendly

Ever tried reading reams of content on a screen the size of the thumb? Yep, most of us have. Did you hate every second of it? Yep, most probably.

There’s a significant amount of content in knowledge bases, so remember that the content may be compressed to fit onto your customer’s mobile screen.

To read, they’ll probably have to continually zoom in and out to scour for the information they need, which is another hassle that may nudge them towards closing that tab instead of continuing to use and love your product.

7 – Too Clichéd

“Your issue is important to us, thanks for contacting our support team, we will get back to your as soon as possible.”

We cringe when we hear these words. Because we know they mean the opposite.

These overdone responses – even when they’re written down, lack a personalised flair. They don’t sound human, and if your knowledge base doesn’t sound human, what does that say about the rest of your business?