We all know it’s not easy to be a customer support agent. Helping customers with many different issues, often when they’re upset and frustrated, is no easy feat. The job can also be incredibly rewarding though when agents are able to provide customers with just the right help. When agents have the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to be effective, they’re much more likely to enjoy their roles and feel satisfied in the help they’re able to provide.
When customer support agents are well-equipped, they’re also much more efficient and effective. This ultimately means your customers are more satisfied, as components like time-to-answer and the quality of help are key contributors to how customers perceive the support they receive.
One of the core tenets at Zendesk is building products and features that are simultaneously simple to use and effective. We’ve particularly embodied this principle while creating knowledge and content tools in Zendesk Guide that provide the best experience for agents to allow them to be as productive as possible.
Zendesk Guide, our smart knowledge base product for better self-service and empowered agents, enables agents to do their best work in three main ways:
- Leveraging bots and automation for questions that don’t need a human touch
- Providing the most relevant AI-powered knowledge right at their fingertips
- Empowering agents to easily contribute to content and ensure the knowledge base is always up-to-date
Leveraging bots and automation for questions that don’t need a human touch
Answering the same basic question day after day is a common frustration for agents. When the answers to these questions are already available in your knowledge base, rather than spending agent time answering them, bots and automation can come into play.
Answer Bot is an AI-powered tool that automatically solves customer inquiries by offering content from your knowledge base, so your agents can focus on the tougher questions that truly require a human touch.
We’ve seen customers reap significant benefits from leveraging Answer Bot, including Lending Club, an online marketplace that connects U.S. borrowers and investors. Lending Club’s Director of Payment Solutions, Andrew Jensen, noted “We really like Answer Bot. It’s easy to configure and does a great job measuring the number of tickets it deflects. Even better, customers don’t find Answer Bot intrusive to their borrower experience.” The team has seen valuable cost savings when Answer Bot handles a ticket, and already a 12 percent resolution rate, meaning these tickets don’t require an agent to get involved at all. “We’ve found that this has been a big lift.”
For information about using Answer Bot, see our Answer Bot resources (add-on for Guide Professional and Enterprise).
Providing the most relevant AI-powered knowledge right at an agent’s fingertips
For those tickets when an agent does need to be involved, having the right knowledge is critical. For newer agents, this is especially crucial as each question that comes in is likely something new that they are still trying to learn.
The Knowledge Capture app provides instant access to the most relevant articles, directly from the agent interface. On Professional and Enterprise, the Knowledge Capture app includes recommendations from Answer Bot for Agents, which leverages its machine learning algorithm so agents are getting even better article recommendations by taking into account the full context of the customer’s question.
These content recommendations can include both external, as well as internal-only articles, so agents can share them directly with customers, or use the information on their own to quickly provide the right assistance.
On average, 20% of agent time is spent looking for information so providing this helpful content right at an agent’s fingertips can make a significant improvement in their efficiency, and as a result, boost customer satisfaction by 4% on average. Additionally, agent time spent looking for relevant information is also estimated to cost organizations $1.45 million each year alone, so providing tools to address this need can result in significant cost efficiencies as well.
Once a customer gets a relevant article from an agent that solves their question, it’s easiest if the customer can resolve their own ticket. This means the agent doesn’t have to worry about this task and can move on to the next question. Guide enables customers to solve their own ticket, and saves agents time, with a feature called Rapid Resolve.
Rapid Resolve has provided our customers with a way to mark their tickets as solved without requiring any agent interaction at all. This frees up our agents to focus on supporting other customers that are unable to resolve their issue via our existing Help Center documentation. This leads to more opportunities for our support agents to create documentation that is then published in our Help Center - thus creating a resolution loop that can quickly grow our self-service resolve rate.
- Richard Patterson, Operations System Admin for Republic Wireless
For information about using the Knowledge Capture app, with Answer Bot for Agents and Rapid Resolve, see our Knowledge Capture app resources.
Empowering agents to contribute content and ensure the knowledge base is always up-to-date
Now that you’re saving agents time and they’re getting fewer requests as Answer Bot is automatically resolving many inquiries, it’s time to empower your agents to work in new ways. Fortunately, your agents also want to improve their skills by handling more complicated tickets and they have said that more advanced tasks would also help them feel more committed to their roles. We all love feeling challenged and continuing to grow, after all.
In addition to the Knowledge Capture app helping provide smart article recommendations at an agent’s fingertips, it also provides an easy way for agents to provide feedback on content that could be improved, as well as contribute directly to new content. This is especially helpful when they’ve just created a great customer response with information that wasn’t already captured in your knowledge base.
As you’re getting agents to contribute to knowledge, a key part of the process is ensuring they spend their time on the right content. But sometimes it’s hard to identify where you have knowledge gaps—that’s where Content Cues on Guide Enterprise comes in.
Using Content Cues, you can get AI-powered recommendations for where you need new content or where your existing material can be improved. With the assignment workflow within Team Publishing, you can then also quickly assign these updates to an agent, with a note explaining what needs to be done, and then the agent can submit their updates for review when ready.
As part of getting your agents more directly involved in content, you can also use a tool called Article Events to assign them to help ensure content is always reliable and up-to-date. With Article Events, you can schedule article lifecycle events, including an article verification interval, and create owners for your content to ensure they’re verifying that content is still accurate and up-to-date.
This not only helps to empower agents with greater ownership and responsibility for content, but also makes them more efficient when they’re helping customers, as they’ll know they can trust the reliability of the knowledge they’re leveraging with badges that show when content has been verified.
Now, you may be wondering if having agents involved in developing and improving knowledge will mean your content team won’t have the final call in what actually gets published. After all, your agents aren’t all trained writers and it’s still important that you have content reviews where you can make sure to ensure accuracy, the correct format, and make any other changes before the articles are live.
User Permissions give you the flexibility to decide the exact view and management permissions for each individual article. You can determine exactly which agents can edit which articles, and submit them for review without being able to publish them, so you’ll still have that opportunity to review each and every contribution if you’d like.
The User Permissions feature has enabled us to better organize and manage our content by allowing more granular control over our articles. Our team consists of 100+ agents, who are licensed to create new articles and edit existing ones on the fly. User permissions allow us to restrict this access only when necessary and only to individual articles based on the permissions and groups that we set. Having this control helps us to keep our processes and content organization simplified.
- Ben Garris, KCS Program Manager for Republic Wireless
For information about using Content Cues, Team Publishing, and user permissions, see:
- Understanding Content Cues (Enterprise)
- About Team Publishing (Enterprise)
- Understanding Guide user permissions (Professional and Enterprise)
You’ve probably noticed how all of these agent productivity tools work together to create a cycle for continuous improvement. This is a key part of good knowledge management and it’s exactly what we strive for when developing functionality for Guide, so every feature ultimately allows for a better self-service experience for both your customers and agents.
Companies that leverage tools like these to develop strong knowledge management practices see an annual improvement of 3.2% in agent utilization rates, while those without them see this metric continue to decline over time.
With these agent-focused features we’ve just covered, you first make your agents as productive as they can be with a reduction in basic issues through tools like Answer Bot. Second, you equip agents with easy access to relevant AI-powered knowledge so they’re most effective when they’re helping customers. Finally, as agents have fewer issues to handle and become more productive in providing help, you empower them with the right tools to evolve in their roles and start developing and improving content seamlessly.
Here’s a recap of these features in action: