Or maybe the real question is, why are you making it so hard on your customers?

Okay, time for a reality check. Companies that don’t make at least some of their documentation public are likely missing a huge opportunity for self-service. Correction: their customers are definitely missing out on the opportunity to help themselves. That’s a self-service fail.

A big one.

We’ve written at length about the rise of micromoments, those curious little things that today drive many of the interactions people have with brands throughout the customer journey. A question pops into our heads, we reach for our smartphones, and in seconds we’re engaging with some kind of content.

Assuming, of course, there’s content to engage with.

This kind of in-the-moment interaction is rapidly growing in prevalence. But it’s not always marketing content that surfaces during these moments, or that influences the decision to purchase, renew, or renege. Often, it’s product documentation. Knowledge base articles. Help content. Frequently asked questions.

Even video tutorials can do the trick.

That’s because today’s customer is educated. They’re savvy. They want more than clever taglines and catchy jingles. Customers want to see product specs, peruse forum threads, read answers to common questions about a product. And when they do decide to seek this information, they want to be engaged by the brand their courting.

When they look for product documentation, they expect to find it.

Keeping this content locked away in various organizational silos doesn’t cut it anymore. Let them in, as the saying goes. Let them in! Because product documentation that shows up where people are looking for it inherently enables customer self-service. It makes it easier for customers to find the answers themselves.

This can have a positive impact on customer support KPIs like customer effort score (CES) and Net Promoter Score® (NPS). It can help prevent support tickets before they happen, too (if customers can find the answers online thanks to your highly digestible, highly optimized documentation, what need to they have to open a costly support ticket?).

Of course, there are certain use cases where product documentation needs to be kept private or semi-private. Proprietary knowledge, for example. Solutions that are only intended to help customer support agents resolve cases, or knowledge that is only meant for internal audiences.

Fair enough.

Rather than throw a restrictive blanket over all that documentation, why not leverage a knowledge management solution that offers some flexibility? With permissioning, for example, you can restrict access to certain documentation based on the user. Logged in versus anonymous. Tier 1 versus Tier 3 support.

There are many ways to break down content silos and get the content to the people, but it starts with a solid self-service framework. It’s no small undertaking, true; but then again, customer experience is no small potato.

And improving the customer experience is what highly searchable, highly useful product documentation is all about.

Additional categories: Customer Experience, Knowledge Management