10 tips to create a user guide course that helps increase product usage

marketing customer success

User guides, like instruction booklets, have a bad reputation. Way too often, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of user manuals is text-heavy content that is difficult to understand, incredibly technical and hardly ever focused on the actual problem we need to solve at any given moment. Moreover, the much-needed manual is never at hand when we need it the most!

When your customers’ usage of your product start to drop, this is a huge red flag for churn. 

But, did you know that with a great user guide course you can fight some of the reasons customers drop out:
- they don’t know how to use your product
- they believe your product doesn’t have all the features they need (even when it actually does)
- they don’t see its value, its benefits, or how it can help improve their business
- they don’t know or have time the team or new team members on it
- they can’t find help and support online

Here are a few tips you can take while creating your user manual to ensure it is not only effective and appealing, but first and foremost answers your customers’ needs and increases the product usage.


1. Ensure your user guide is well structured and crystal clear.
You should divide it into modules and short well-identified chapters, so your customers can easily access what they need without having to flip through the entire content.
If your modules and chapter titles are clear, every nugget of content will be easy to find.

If your product is very technical, consider creating a glossary of technical terms, or creating animated explainer videos to explain more complex concepts.


2. Make your step by steps easy to follow and updated

When giving step by step instructions, it is fundamental that you provide the actual step-by-step in the correct order, following the sequence of the real operations. If you are creating a user guide course for a software programme, for instance, make sure you clarify what each symbol, icon or code means, and always check that your screen and steps match the actual product.


3. Go beyond the step-by-step: show the benefits of the product
Show your customers what your product or service features are and how they can leverage them. Remember to focus on the “why” and on the “what’s in it for them” and not just in the “how”. This can be done by adding a practical example to the respective chapter.

Here’s an example: Imagine you are explaining how to access a report. Besides explaining the actual steps to do it, you can add information on how your customer can use that data in their business. You can also suggest another report that complements this one and indicate which chapter explains that report.

TIP: Be careful not to use “salesy” language: they already bought the product, so your tone must be practical, relevant and to the point.


4. Choose your format well
Instead of making people read giant PDFs… show them! Choose video instead of text and use screen castings and animations to enrich your manual.

Free download: Video Styles Cheat Sheet

5. Get the top user issues out of the way

Rank the top user issues and create a specific module dedicated to answer them. Make sure this module stands out. Remember that if you solve issues upfront, this means less reactive support on your side, and it makes it easier for the customer to find what they are looking for.


6. Test your user manual with real users

Why not ask a few customers to check it out before launching to all, and get their feedback? Their feedback is invaluable and may uncover aspects you can’t possibly predict.

7. Suggest a usage timeframe

Using the above example of the reporting, suggest a best practice time frame for the repeatability of this action, and invite them to create an alert to do it (whether on their own calendar, or within your product or service, in case it allows for it). Use this with any feature where it makes sense to suggest some sort of repeatability.


8. Get customers involved in the change
With the right tone, you can easily build commitment and excitement around new features, products or services. For instance, invite your customers to use a new feature you have just launched and offer their feedback. Don’t forget to acknowledge and reward their participation. Remember to keep it engaging and interactive. Invite them to share their opinion and experience where other customers can see it as well (and relate).
With bugle, you can use the Challenges interactivity feature for this.   


9. Make it easy to share

Your user guide should be easy to share and be available when and where your customers need it regardless of device or location. It’s important that your customers can also make it easily available for their own team.


10. Make sure it is organized and measurable

Use an online training platform to publish and share your user guide course. This will allow you to keep it controlled and organized and measure its performance. And don’t let technology be a barrier – choose an easy to use platform where you can easily update any information without the need for technical support or expert assistance.


Go above and beyond
Even if you use all the above tips, don’t just stop at having a user guide.
To truly go the extra mile, offer training that will help your customers be better at their work.

For example, if your product is an email marketing automation platform, why not offer training about email deliverability or how to create successful email automation campaigns?

If you have a clearly organized guide, your customers will find it helpful and see it as the best source of on-the-spot information, 24/7. As it is a self-service source, your customer success team will have less duplicated work and it will help your customers have a better and deeper understanding of your product and its value for their business - and that means increased product usage and less churn.  

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You may also find interesting:

Stop churn: why customer education is key to success (article)
5 ways to increase customer engagement (article)
What a great customer onboarding course looks like (article)
Customer activation - show value from day 1 (article)


Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help you onboard and offer great training to your customers? Let's talk.

Writen by Pedro Aguiar
14-Mar-2019 12:12:00

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