In June of 2021 we announced some exciting new features that we've been hard at work on for our customers: The context panel and its new section which integrates knowledge natively into the Zendesk Agent Workspace.
With the launch of the Zendesk Suite, we saw a great opportunity to better integrate the experience across all of our customer service products. To that end, we built the Knowledge Capture app a few years ago to make knowledge available to agents while working with customers in Zendesk Support. The Knowledge Capture app was a regular Zendesk app that you could add to your account alongside other apps.
The feedback we heard from customers was good, but also about functionality that the Knowledge Capture app was unable to accommodate; for example, they needed additional searching & filtering capabilities, more reading space on the screen while also being able to respond in the conversation, and an ability to easily quote from the content that you are reading. At the same time, the types of content that can now be made available in Guide have proliferated to include community posts and external content from our federated search feature. In short, there was lots for us to do. The extent of our ideation is shown below in a mindmap from an early stage in the project.
An early mindmap of the project
Not long into the process of discovery, we realized that we needed to provide an experience with knowledge that was deeply linked to everything else that the agent is doing in the conversation. From here we started looking for new and scalable ways to enrich the Agent Workspace without adding clutter and noise. Within Zendesk, there were several groups who wanted to add new functionality to the Agent Workspace. Although the knowledge integration was driven primarily by teams in Copenhagen and San Francisco, we discovered that a prototype for what is now known as the context panel had already been built by our colleagues in Portland, Oregon.
A cross-team effort was launched, and with the use of customer studies and user testing, we sharpened the design of the context panel to make it available for the knowledge integration as well as other future features and apps. Here's how our mock-ups appeared at that time – you can start to sense the solution, but key concepts definitely had a ways to go:
Initial mock-up of the context panel and its sections
To validate and improve the mock-ups, we ran tests with both customers and non-customers to learn about the intuitiveness and usability of this solution. We received a lot of great feedback, which resulted in a number of improvements to our initial prototypes. Finally, we arrived at a solution that we felt great about. Our team started evaluating the impact on the Zendesk infrastructure to make sure we could provide a stable and reliable experience to all of our customers. Adding the knowledge feature into the Agent Workspace meant that agents would search a lot more than they were today in the agent workspace. We didn't have an apples to apples comparison with the Knowledge Capture app, so we decided to conduct an Early Access Program so that we could measure the real life behaviour of a smaller set of customers in order to get ready for the launch.
Now that the context panel and knowledge section have been released, we're seeing great adoption amongst customers, and therefore also a lot of great ideas coming in. We're continuing to add functionality to this area, and other teams in Zendesk are working on other aspects that will be added to the context panel as well.
The involvement of customers has been – and will continue to be – critical in the ongoing development process. For example, we are learning about customers who are using their knowledge bases as an internal-facing repository of working processes and procedures, and how the knowledge integration, with its position in the context panel, makes for an ideal place to track such processes and steps while working on a conversation or ticket. Other customers are finding that the knowledge section enables them to better involve their ticket requesters to take advantage of the community and re-raise their questions there so that other customers can benefit from the conversation. Watch this space for more exciting features, and please keep on providing your feedback in the community forums.
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