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The hidden power behind mobile app FAQ’s

Mobile apps, unlike web apps, cannot be hot patched or fixed quickly. App stores can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to review app update submissions. This is a long time to leave users frustrated with your app while you scramble to get bug fixes through the app store police. And often a users frustration with your app may not be related to bugs at all; it may be a design issue or a 3rd party integration problem which is completely out of your control!

To avoid this frustration, a neat little trick is to implement searchable FAQ’s that are accessible within your app. FAQ’s enable your customers to efficiently find resolutions to more common problems, reducing the amount of users flooding your support lines.

If you’re thinking about implementing FAQ’s in your app, here are 4 things you must consider before you get started:

1. Do you want users to watch a loading spinner when all they want is help?

Most mobile FAQ’s are implemented as web pages that are rendered inside an app. There are a few problems with this model. First, most companies have not formatted their web content to be responsive so it does not render well on a phone and makes it difficult (if not impossible) for a user to read.

Second, even if they are formatted for a phone, they will load very slowly. A user is often forced to watch the loading spinner as mobile networks are not as reliable and subject to high latency. Worse, if the user is driving or out of any network coverage, then a web FAQ will simply not load.

To address these issues, we invented a way to sync FAQs and store them locally in the device’s memory. Whenever the FAQ is updated, our SDK on the device automatically fetches the changes so the content is up to date and available to the users instantly – no need to wait for an app update to change the content.

2. Do you really expect your users to thumb through all the FAQs you have published just to find answers to their questions?

Users are too strapped for time to thoroughly read every single FAQ on a mobile device.

To overcome this challenge, we implemented our own information retrieval (IR) algorithms natively on the device to help a user quickly find what they are looking for in the FAQ’s. The result – magical as users can find what they are looking for instantly.

Some of the key features of our on-device FAQ search are:

  • Fast on-device auto-complete search – Helpshift generates and stores its search index on the device along with the FAQ content which ensures that the search is local, fast and always available (even when the device has no network)
  • Find words that sound similar – FAQ’s published via Helpshift make it easy for users to find content with words that sound similar but may be spelt differently like color vs colour or root vs route. We implement the metaphone V2 algorithm.
  • Users can type partial / misspelt words – FAQ’s published with Helpshift enable predictable search where words can be partially spelt or even miss-spelt and in some cases completely out of order.
  • Results boosted by what is relevant – The search results are all sorted by relevance based on a powerful mathematical algorithm using word frequency. This enables a user to find what they are looking for quickly as the search results are sorted automatically based on relevance of the words in the FAQ.
Searchable FAQ's

3. Mobile apps have to deal with device fragmentation, why do your users have to?

Our SDK is smart enough to only sync FAQ items applicable to the device the user is using. For example, if a user using an iOS device uses Helpshift, he/she will never be shown articles / questions related to Android.

4. Mobile is Global. Do ALL of your users speak English?

Helpshift provides a fully internationalized SDK that can detect the local language of the user’s device and fetch FAQ’s localized in their language. We also provide a mobile optimized CMS that enables Helpshift’s customers to store translated versions of their FAQ. This ensures that as you go global, your help can be in your users native language.

Tip: It is also important for the FAQ’s to be frequently updated with new issues. It’s not uncommon to see FAQ’s that are no longer relevant or outdated which can just be even more confusing for your customers!

Localized FAQ’s

For more insights on how to build mobile apps with your customers top of mind, read our blog outlining how to engage your users from the outset and see which apps we’ve judged to have great in app help.
Published June 28, 2013
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