Knowledge base is power: quick tips for a multilingual help center

8 min read

Let’s imagine, for a moment, there were a help center for some of life’s most important questions. You might find the following article featured prominently on the list:

Will the language barrier ever come down?

Language — and the emotional intelligence it encodes — is a key part of what makes us human. Though great strides in language processing have been made over the years, artificial intelligence alone can’t make sense of the ambiguity and nuance that characterize the way we speak with one another. That doesn’t mean the problem of language is unsolvable, however. Businesses like Unbabel combine human expertise and artificial intelligence to give people the ability to understand each other, make smarter choices, and have richer experiences.

(Maybe you hoped we’d take on the meaning of life — but we wouldn’t be us if we didn’t reflect on the role of language in our daily lives.)

Now two even more important questions: is this even a good example of a help center article? And why do FAQ articles matter in the first place?

Self-service: your customer’s first instinct

For enterprises, self-service presents a rare opportunity to improve customer experience while driving new operational efficiencies. So rare, in fact, that enterprises are betting heavily on the channel, with a new report by Executives in the Know showing that 9 out of 10 companies see self-service as the future of their support operations.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers attempt to find the answers they need on their own before reaching out to a support agent via any number of channels. Almost without fail, your customer’s first instinct will be to get their problems solved quickly, on their own time.

And that’s only the tip of the statistical iceberg — a pair of studies conducted by Nuance found that 91% of respondents will use a knowledge base if it meets their needs, while 67% of respondents actually prefer self-service over speaking to an agent for most inquiries. 59% report being downright frustrated when they have to reach out to a customer service representative.

But excellent knowledge bases don’t write themselves, and if your articles don’t pass muster, you’ll just end duplicating your support processes.

A rerouted customer is a frustrated customer — and if a customer ends up reaching out for help for a simple inquiry over the phone, it can end up being frustrating for your agents, too. These basic, automatable inquiries — think forgotten user name requests or password resets — increase workload at the expense of the more pressing, higher value issues where your agents make the biggest difference.

Face the FAQs

We’re preaching to the choir, I know — customer centric businesses everywhere are committed to meeting their customers where they are. So, without further ado, here are some concrete tips for turbocharging your help center.

The answers they want, in a place they can easily find

It doesn’t matter how well-written or comprehensive your articles are if your customers can’t locate them on your website.

Your FAQs should be featured prominently on your website’s navigation so they’re easy to discover and browse through, along with some kind of support media that incentivizes customers to peruse your help center before reaching out to a live agent.

Here a few other ways you can give your help center visibility:

  • Play a voice message promoting your self-service solution whenever your customers reach out over the phone. They can even browse your FAQs while they’re on hold to speak to an agent. Probably better than humming along to distorted on-hold music.
  • Make a “Support” button a part of your sticky navbar or as a footer on most of your pages, linking through to various support options, with an emphasis on self-service.
  • If you’re still getting a lot of repeat inquiries even after writing a great article, you might implement co-browsing so your live agents can walk customers through your self-service feature. Customers will feel more comfortable using the feature for future inquiries.

SEO + FAQ: six letters that belong together

There’s a lingering sense that FAQs are created out of necessity — perfunctory articles that are there simply because they have to be. This mentality not only underestimates the power of deflection via a help center, along with the savings and boosts to productivity it can bring. It also overlooks the strategic value of a well-crafted help center: SEO-friendly articles increase visibility and boost rankings.

If the answers on your FAQs page are too long, you should use hyperlinks to redirect customers to other pages on your site. In addition to creating a better user experience for the reader, it will push traffic to different pages of your website and increase page views — potentially resulting in new opportunities and conversions, and helping to avoid losing traffic to competitors. It’ll also shepherd existing customers with questions towards your help center, as a large portion of them will search for their help on Google instead of on your website.

There are some basic tenets of Search Engine Optimization that are especially pertinent for help center content. Focus on one specific topic, load it up with relevant, useful and unique content about said topic and make sure it answers potential questions users have when searching for keywords related to that topic. Sometimes that can mean explaining your product or service in greater detail than usual. For example, if you’re an online coffee business writing a help center article about shipping locations, you might want to ask “Where does Central Roasters ship its freshly roasted coffee?” instead of “Where do you ship?”

A little help for your help center: translating self-service content

You’ve got a thorough knowledge base that oozes both style and helpfulness. You’ve got visibility, thanks to smart design, and an SEO-forward content writing strategy. Just one problem: translating all those articles and maintaining an up-to-date multilingual help center.

The case for a multilingual knowledge base is simple: enterprises and consumers alike see self-service as the future of customer support, and 84% of customers are more likely to buy online when provided with a native-language experience. A well-crafted multilingual help center can also deflect customers in expensive or low-volume languages — which means you can keep a lean, kind team of support agents.

What’s more, if you make your articles available in more languages, they’ll turn up in a greater number of searches since customers look for answers in their native language. So a multilingual help center doesn’t just improve customer experience. It actually increases your brand’s visibility and complements your SEO initiatives because native-language content ranks higher for native searches.

When it comes to creating and maintaining multilingual help centers, the status quo has long been to rely on translation agencies or LSPs. While this approach can certainly produce high-quality translations, working with multiple providers can result in inconsistent customer experiences between different languages. More importantly, even the smallest updates to the original help center article can lead to an arduous, manually laborious process of requesting, receiving, and publishing translations in every language.

Until recently, there weren’t too many other options: the quality delivered by machine-only translation simply isn’t capable of capturing the branded language and tone of voice that you want to nail in your self-service content.

Here at Unbabel, we’ve combined the speed and scale of machine translation with the authenticity that can only come from a native speaker. A part of our Customer Service Solution, Unbabel FAQs integrates seamlessly with leading Salesforce Knowledge and Zendesk Guide so you can translate, publish, and update self-service content in one place.

Our domain-adapted machine translation speeds up the whole process, delivering high-quality, on-brand texts to our global community of translators, who then apply the finishing touches to ensure that the final translation reads natively.

All of this in the comfort of your home CRM. Whenever you need to edit the original article, translations are automatically requested and rolled out in every language you need. That way you can revisit the original and translated versions regularly — quarterly or every six months is ideal — without slowing down your workflow.

The gauntlet has been thrown: customer centric businesses everywhere are competing to build a scalable support model that combines machine efficiency and human empathy, personalization and convenience. A comprehensive, multilingual knowledge base is a key component of any forward-thinking hybrid support strategy.

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