We run an internal wiki with a lot of customer support FAQs, HOWTOs, and other random notes. We are now looking at creating a customer-fronting wiki that we can move stuff in to and let them self-serve. I've tried various knowledge base and FAQ tools but they just never seem to be flexible and easy to manage.
We (at the company) intend writing or maintaining pretty much all of the documentation. A few fans might edit and fix odd bits but we are not counting on it in the near term.
For those that have produced wikis for helping customers support themselves, what tips would you like to share?
Any pitfalls to avoid?
What about the way you organise things?
How are you identifying the content to put on the FAQ/Wiki?
You should begin by taking the top items that you are currently handling with people which could be easily handled by users reading/viewing.
Make the users go through the self-help portal to get to a real support person. Don't make it difficult, just show them related issues or other near search results.
Don't add too much and make cursory approaches - make excellent content for a few well-known, common issues. (or better yet, fix whatever it is that is causing the users to need support in the first place)
It will take time and work to make good content that is useful - it doesn't happen overnight.
Identify WHY you are doing it and it will help drive HOW you are doing it. For example - is it to reduce your cost of support? Is it to make it faster/easier to get common help/FAQ?
I use Zendesk for this and am very happy with it. As a bonus it gives you a very comprehensive support tracking system.
In addition to the great comments above I would like to add a strategy that we have recently found extraordinarily helpful:
Integrating Live Customer Support
When an existing customer is having a problem nothing is more infuriated then getting lost in pages of wikis, get pushed off onto a ticket system, or routed through complex automated voice mail trees. The simple act of being able to talk to a real live human being often makes the difference.
We integrate our live chat directly into the support site. These are some of the features we have found which allow it to really improve customer satisfaction within the context of the support wiki:
We have found this simple service to improve our existing support site far beyond any UI change or fancy database deployment.
Wikis are great if you're geeky and smart and willing to spend the time digging through them. However, most people aren't. They've been burned too many times, so they don't even care if your wiki is great.
Instead, bring your FAQ/documentation to them. Show it on the actual page where they're typing you a message. Or better yet, pull up matching results while they type you a message. We've seen up to 40% of customer issues be answered this way.
My 2 Pence, 2 Cents, 2 Paisa, 2 Fils and 2 Pesos.
1) Make it REALLY easy to search... handle for typos and how your customers will look at things.
2) No "formal structure" (well not like a book) just tag it to death, categorise it, slice it and dice it and provide a really great way for people to get the content.
3) Keep articles short and to the point.
4) If you can provide lots of videos / images if you can. I (as a visual person) love seeing how it's done, other like reading, and some like a mix. (again keep videos short).
5) Make sure common questions are highlighted.
If I had to do this, I'd use WordPress... it's so flexible and easy to create tag, categorise content add videos, images etc.