Why Website Help Isn't Increasing Your Conversion Rates

When was the last time you were on a website, had a question come to mind, and clicked the link marked “Help” in the top-right corner of the page? Think hard; it may have been years ago. Now think even harder: When was the last time, having clicked “Help,” you actually found something helpful? I know, I know. That’s just asking too much of your memory. You are still trying to block out the last bad experience. Have we ever felt optimistic about Help’s ability to help?

The fact is, most website help isn’t helpful. Most website help causes more frustration than it resolves. Studies show that 61% of website self-help attempts fail completely. The number is undoubtedly higher on mobile platforms where text entry is slower, screens are smaller, and app-switching more threatening to a pleasing experience.

Without answers, your visitors won't become customers

The challenge of getting answers to your visitors when they have questions is particularly important when you run an e-commerce website, because if your visitors fail to get answers, they fail to make purchases, and you fail to eat. Nobody likes slapping their money down when feeling uncertain about anything. Answers and uncertainty are like matter and anti-matter: they obliterate each other when they collide. For every moment of uncertainty, the right answer delivered at the right time and place restores that moment and allows the online shopper to continue on their way—hopefully to the checkout page.


The irony of many website help solutions is that they cause precisely what you don’t want to happen: they cause your visitors to leave their purchase workflow. If one of your visitors needs an answer to their question, you need to soberly ask yourself “how far away must they go?” If your visitors must go to a knowledgebase, forum, or FAQ page, you’re specifically requiring them to abandon their purchase workflow to dig through your “help island,” a bunch of article-based content divorced from their point-of-action. Not only will less than 1% of your visitors ever do this, but even if they do, they usually won’t find the answer they need. The patience required to endure this process is superhuman. Since most people won’t do it, you’ll lose them as customers, and the frustration your help island causes may be the reason why. More than 65% of consumers have ended relationships with companies over bad help experiences. Do you think your website help island is ever truly a good experience?

Getting off the help island when getting answers to your visitors is a good step forward. Many companies have tried this through services such as live chat or embedded searchable answer boxes, but the experience still remains outside the user’s critical path. Describing one’s problem in text is inherently difficult, effortful, and imprecise. Average resolution times on live chat are 7-9 minutes despite that 74% of live chat users say all they needed was a one-line answer to a specific question. The fact is, formulating our problems in text is for an era gone-by, an era that had more patience and no touch screens. That era’s approach of formulating text to get help utterly fails on today’s mobile platforms.


Instant answers, a new approach to increase website conversion

AnswerDash has taken a different approach to getting website and web app users answers to their questions. AnswerDash keeps website and web app users on their critical path by using the interface itself as a means for users to indicate what answers they need. AnswerDash requires no typing, just selection of elements from the user interface in which your users already work. So there’s no need for your users to describe their questions in text. Sites that adopt AnswerDash enable their users to just select an element in the interface itself, the element related to their question or confusion, and the most common questions and answers for that element appear, right where the user already is.

Down with help islands. Down with typing. Down with digging through irrelevant search results. AnswerDash gives Twitter-sized answers at the point-of-action. Such answers turn out to dramatically increase sales conversions for e-commerce websites, lower support costs, and provide Voice-of-the-Customer insights not obtainable outside the context of the page. It turns out that a lot of website visitors need answers from time to time but no longer believe the proverbial “Help” link will provide those answers.

Come along with us

In future blog posts, we’ll unpack all these capabilities and more, and consider them against the backdrop of what’s happening in the world of online questions and answers, and getting your visitors the information they need.

It’s an exciting but difficult time to be an online business. Consumers have the highest standards ever for usability, clarity, and information-when-and-where-you-need-it. But for sites that can provide these things, the sky, er, cloud, is the limit.