Best practices: Measuring and optimizing your self-service channels Follow

By guest author Ashley Verrill

As a help desk software reviewer, I am constantly asked for my advice about what buyers can do to ensure they get the most out of their system. My answer is almost always the same -- use every reporting feature possible to foster a perpetual cycle of measurement and improvement.

Self-service channels such as community forums and publicly-facing Knowledge Bases (KBs) are one arena where I’ve noticed specific neglect in regards to measurement. In talking with users, the primary reasons for this are twofold:

  • Not knowing what to measure ,

  • As well as what actions are needed based on the data you do receive.

Today, I’ll provide answers to both of these questions. By the end of this article you’ll understand how you can use Zendesk to measure and optimize your self-service channels.

Zendesk note: Some of the features described in this article are available on the Professional and Enterprise plans only.

Measure response rate to identify gaps in service

Response rate, or the percentage of questions in your community that receive a response, is arguably the most important measure to the success of this support channel. Ideally you want this rate to be 100 percent. To know how you're doing, in Zendesk, you can sort questions in your community to see which ones don't have answers.


The reason why this is so important is because customers will only sign up and use the channel if they perceive their issue as being solved fastest this way. Instead, if they start searching for an answer and find that existing queries haven’t received a response, they will likely not decide to try it themselves. Losing an opportunity to deflect a ticket isn’t the only risk either. You could impact customer satisfaction and loyalty for those people who did post a question and never received a response.

You can use Zendesk ticketing functionality to ensure that every question gets an answer. For example, if a question doesn’t receive a response from the community within a certain amount of time, then an agent can move the question to a ticket so that the team can intervene. The employee responder can either write an answer themselves, or send the question to an active customer community user that’s demonstrated expertise in this arena in the past.

Make popular topics easy to find

There are two primary measures that will help you identify your most popular topics; one is page views, and the other is “likes” a KB article or forum answer receives. You can track these measures in Zendesk.

In Zendesk, you can enable Google Analytics to measure your page views. And to measure your "likes," in Help Center, you can filter questions in your community by "Votes." 

It’s important that your team identify these popular articles and responses, whether user-created or employee-created, so that you can take efforts to ensure they are found (fast), whether that’s upon arrival to the community homepage, through searching terms in the search bar of the community, or just typing their question into Google.

For self-service users that start from the community homepage, you should make sure your most popular articles are listed on the frontpage. You can manually choose which articles to show on the home page as Promoted articles.


You will also want to organize these threads into popular topic area buckets. The Zendesk support community, for example, has sections for “Switching to the New Zendesk,” “Zendesk Apps,” “Product Feedback,” and more.

You’ll notice that some of these sections will remain all of the time. Others will just be used while those topics are popular, when a new feature is released, for example.



For making sure that your articles are found when typed in the search bar, you’ll want to optimize your KB search results. Zendesk offers a few tools for doing this, including advanced stemming and implicit phrase queries. You can read more about how to use those features here .

Making sure that your most popular articles are searchable by Google requires first identifying which terms everyone else used to find that article. Google Analytics in will show you what keywords were used in Google when your page was found.

Once you’ve identified those terms, you can use Google Adwords to identify other keywords in the same word bucket. Then, add these important terms in the title and body of the article if they don’t already appear.

Zero activity growth means it's time to create content

We’ve already mentioned a couple of metrics you can use to measure the overall level of activity in your self-service channels. One of these was page views, the other was number of “likes.” Others could be number of new users over time and number of new topics created.

All of these measures should show show growth over time. Or for comparing page views to tickets created, the ideal ratio is 6:1 (although Zendesk’s ratio is above average at 35:1). If your engagement metrics or page view ratios aren’t up to snuff, it more than likely means community and KB users aren’t finding the content they’re looking for and you need to create it.

One way to figure out what content is missing is to see what users searched when they arrived on an article, but then still created a ticket. In other words, what were they looking for that they didn’t find in the article you served them. Zendesk provides this data with a measure called “tickets created after search” in Search Analytics. You can also click through and read the notes of the ticket afterwards to figure out what questions should be answered in the new article.

These are just a few measures you can use to optimize your self-service channels. What other metrics does your team use and how have you used them to improve support? Join the discussion here .

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  • 0

    Hey guys!

    I'd like to know how to create a dashboard to compare page views to tickets created, as you guys suggest.

    Thanks in advance,



  • 1

    Hey Federico,

    If what you mean by page views is maybe Google Analytics and tracking those pages views within your Zendesk reporting, that isn't a feature that is currently available within Zendesk.  You'd want to contact GoodData directly to see if they would be able to assist you with creating something.

    Let us know if you have any other questions or requests.

    It is a pretty fantastic idea though.  Feel free to add this in our Feedback Forum:

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