When a user has a specific question in mind, the most natural avenue for them to discover the help they need is through a search on your help center. But if search doesn’t yield what they’re looking for, it can often be more frustrating than helpful. Below are some of the major reasons why search should be a critical piece of your support strategy.
Knowledge base visitors are drawn to search. Whereas ecommerce sites field more users who are on the site to browse and may use navigation elements to explore a site, knowledge base visitors come with a question in mind and want answers quickly. Search is the most logical way for them to find these answers, and a prominent search bar will quickly provide avenue for resolving their questions.
Strong search translates to significant case deflection. Knowledge bases are unique site type because the information they provide only exists in one place – that knowledge base. While other sites worry about weak search increasing their bounce rate and translating to lost customers, weak search on a knowledge base makes users do one of two things: (i) file a support ticket because they can’t find the answer to their question, or (ii) give up on their question and leave the site frustrated. If your knowledge base has a strong search engine that provides relevant results and fast autocomplete suggestions, users will find their answers quicker and use your documentation to solve their problems instead of filing a support ticket.
Search analytics allow unparalleled insight on user problems. Search data provides a unique opportunity to listen directly to what users want from your site, and knowledge base managers can look to site search analytics for a number of actionable data sets, including top queries, top queries that returned no results, and top autocomplete conversions. By looking at what users are searching for most (especially the queries that return no results), your support team can focus on creating content that will answer these questions.
These analytics can inform search result customization. A strong search solution should allow you to customize search results for a given query and add in results for queries that return no results. This will ensure that users never hit dead ends on your support page and that the most relevant articles populate at the top of your search results. For example, SurveyMonkey customizes results for all of their most important queries:
Because site visitors expect great search, knowledge bases need to provide a robust search experience to quickly help users find answers. If support teams invest in improving their search experience, both site visitors and site owners will be happier in the long run.