Articles in the series
- Introduction: Elements of a self-service channel
- Part 1: Planning your self-service content project
- Part 2: Planning your self-service content structure
- Part 3: Determining what articles you need to create
- Part 4: Writing your knowledge base articles
- Part 5: Launching your help center
- Part 6: Tracking essential self-service metrics
- Part 7: Maintaining and improving your knowledge base
In the build-up to launching your help center and all the new knowledge base articles you’ve created (Getting started with self-service – Part 4: Writing your knowledge base articles) you need to set a launch date and put a process in place for receiving feedback about your content. Another essential part of launching your help center is to ensure that your customers are aware that it’s available and that they use the articles you’ve written.
This article covers the following topics:
Setting a launch date and preparing your help center
If you have project management processes already in place, by all means use those to help you manage your knowledge base writing work to completion. You and the other people helping to launch your self-service channel (the essential team we described in Defining roles and the self-service team), should set a help center launch date.
You don’t necessarily need to have created, by your launch date, all the knowledge base articles that you determined you needed. Focus on your top customer issues and highest priority articles. Complete those first and launch your help center as soon as possible.
How you schedule and manage the release of additional new articles depends on the usual factors: the writing and reviewing resources you have available, workload priorities, new product launches, emergent support issues that need to be documented, and so on.
Your launch date of course will need to align with the completion of the other work that’s needed to prepare your help center to go live to customers. Here are the primary tasks that need to happen for launch.
- Completed help center structure with the sections and categories you need to contain your articles.
- Help center design and branding complete.
- All the articles that you want to launch along with your help center are written, reviewed, and have been added to Guide and are ready to be published.
- Guide administrative roles have been defined and assigned to people in your organization (who the Guide Managers are and what access and publishing permissions agents have in your help center).
- Other Guide admin tasks are complete (see Preparing the help center for release).
To do all of that, your Guide admin will have enabled your help center in setup mode. In this mode, it is hidden from customers and is visible to administrators and agents only. When it’s ready and it’s time to go live, the admin will activate it (see Activating help center).
- Set a help center launch date that is aligned with the completion of the various other non-writing launch tasks.
- Launch your help center as soon as possible; no need to wait until all the content you want is ready to go, publish your top customer issues and highest priority articles.
Adding a community forum with Zendesk Gather
When you’re setting up your help center, before it’s gone live to your customers, you should also consider enabling Zendesk Gather to provide the community forum to allow your customers to connect and collaborate.
With Gather you can create discussion topics to which your customers can add posts. For example, you can create a topic to solicit feedback and your customers can then create posts within that topic to provide you with that feedback.
If you’re not already familiar with Gather, you can see it in action in Zendesk’s own help center (https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/community/topics).
For more information about Gather and enabling it in your help center, see Getting Started with Zendesk Gather.
Setting up to collect feedback about your knowledge base content
Before you go live with your help center, while it’s in setup mode, you can set yourself up to receive and process content feedback. You want ongoing feedback from your customers as well as internal sources such as members of your support team.
Collecting feedback from customers
Commenting provides your customers with the ability to give you direct feedback about your article. Commenting is enabled by default (it can be turned off for individual articles, see Disabling comments for an article).
Customers often ask follow up questions, point out where you have gaps in your content, and help other users with advice and best practices. You can create a trackable feedback loop for comments that you think should be incorporated into an article (for example, a customer asks a question that prompts you to add a new section to the article). From an article comment you can create a ticket. See Creating a ticket from a comment on a knowledge base article.
If you set up a community using Zendesk Gather, you can also create tickets from the comments in community posts. See Creating a ticket from a community post or comment.
You can also monitor the up and down votes on your articles.
Collecting feedback from your support team and other internal sources
At Zendesk, most of the published content feedback we get comes to us in support tickets. For example, we can create a ticket from a comment as mentioned above, or when a support agent notices an issue (a user interface element with the wrong name, a content gap, a needed clarification, a misspelling, and so on), they create a ticket and assign it to the Documentation team (a group in Zendesk’s own instance of Zendesk Support).
All of the documentation tickets can then be assigned to individual writers and tracked through to closure.
The Knowledge Capture app can also be used by agents to add inline feedback to existing articles that need updates. See Flagging articles with the Knowledge Capture app.
- Allow your customers to comment on your knowledge base articles.
- Create support tickets from customer comments when they prompt a change to the content.
- Set up a content group in your instance of Zendesk Support so that the support team and others can open and assign tickets for content-related issues.
- Maintain a close relationship with product experts and the people who are in direct contact with your customers to gather as much ongoing feedback as possible.
Promoting your help center to drive self-service adoption
After you’ve launched your help center, you’ll want to promote it to your customers so that they are aware of it and use it. You do this by pushing the content directly to your customers, in various ways, and by promoting it via your social media channels and your community.
Best practices for helping to drive traffic to your new help center are described in detail in Best practices for driving traffic to your knowledge base and community. We summarize those details here, but you should also review that article.
Aside from directly accessing your help center, your customers can be made aware of your knowledge base by pushing it to them in the following ways.
- As a support request reply - Your agents can insert links to your articles when they reply to support requests. They can do that manually or they can use the Knowledge Capture app, which allows them to search for and insert article links into their tickets directly in Zendesk Support (see Searching and linking articles using the Knowledge Capture app).
- Include article links in macros and triggers - Links to knowledge base articles can and should be added to your macros and triggers.
- Include a link to your help center in agent signatures - It’s a common practice to add a link to the help center in agent signatures.
- Using a bot - Zendesk bots, which are also included in the Knowledge Capture app, are available in many other Zendesk products and integrations. They can use AI to automatically push knowledge base articles to your customers. For example, AI can be used in automatic email replies to support requests. When a bot is enabled, the automated email reply includes a list of articles from your help center that can help the requester solve their own issue. For more information about bots, see Understanding everywhere you can use Zendesk bots.
- Integrate with your website - Add links to your new help center in your company’s website. As we showed you in B2C (business to consumer) help center example, your help center can be seamlessly integrated into your website and easily accessed via global navigation.
- Add links in your online products and apps - If you provide web-hosted software, you can add links to your knowledge base articles in the user interface. For example, if you have an Accounts setting page, you can add a link to the knowledge base article that describes the settings in more detail. Your knowledge base can also be embedded into mobile apps.
- Promote via social mediaand customer outreach - Working with your Marketing team, you can promote your help center via tweets and other social media posts. You can also include links to knowledge base articles in email messages, newsletters, and campaigns.
- There are many ways to drive traffic to and promote your self-service channel.
- Your Support team should make linking to knowledge base articles part of their support processes — both manually and through automation.
- Your help center and knowledge base articles should be integrated into your company’s website and any other online products and apps.
- Use your marketing channels to raise awareness of your content.