Zendesk on Zendesk: How we use the Knowledge Capture app
Zendesk on Zendesk is a discussion about a specific topic and how the Zendesk Support team uses Zendesk products. Each session is hosted by a member of our Support team.
This session is about how Zendesk Support uses the Guide Knowledge Capture app. It covers:
- Our vision for KCS
- Planning a successful implementation
- Putting our plan into action
- Encouraging ongoing engagement
This session is hosted by Melissa Burch, Manager of the Online Customer Service team in Advocacy. Melissa has 19 years of industry experience leading initiatives in the online customer services. Here at Zendesk, she works to deliver increasingly valuable self-service offerings to our customers. Her areas of focus are on knowledge and community management, with some customer experience efforts sprinkled in.
See all of the Zendesk on Zendesk series discussions.
Part 1, Our vision for KCS
Deliver high quality and relevant articles
One of our big strategic efforts is to optimize our online self-service channel so that it provides highly relevant information very efficiently.
The most important project we focused on in 2016 was implementing a system that allowed us to develop and maintain high quality and relevant articles. We focused on this because these published articles are the core enabler of an impactful online self-service experience.
In order to scale the creation and continuous maintenance of our knowledge, we implemented a technique called Knowledge Centered Service (KCS®). KCS was created many years ago by members of the Consortium for Service Innovation. Without KCS, it is virtually impossible to manage a large knowledge base cost-effectively.
At a very high level, KCS enables our support Advocates to share what they know with our customers, and one another, without interrupting their workflow. While it is possible to implement KCS without a tool specifically designed for the purpose, it is so much easier when a tool like the Guide Knowledge Capture app is embedded into the workflow.
**KCS® is a registered service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation™.
Focus on high-impact behaviors
To keep this simple for our support Advocates, we focus on embedding four KCS practices into their workflow:
Search for knowledge base articles. As support Advocates gather information from our customers during the ticket resolution process, they use the Knowledge Capture app to search for relevant articles. The app makes searching easy by presenting articles immediately, without any additional effort. If needed, the support Advocates refines the search to find relevant information.
Link tickets to articles. As support Advocates interact with the articles found using the Knowledge Capture app, they link the relevant articles within the ticket. When articles are linked to tickets, it offers our customers the opportunity to review relevant articles while working with the support Advocate.
As a bonus, linking provides a gold mine of data that drives automated knowledge management maintenance. For example, we look at the linking and viewing data together to get a very accurate picture of which articles are most impactful. This enables us to prioritize our translation budget and maintenance activities to those articles with highest value.
Fill knowledge base gaps. From time-to-time, support Advocates see gaps in the knowledge base. They then use the Knowledge Capture app to either create new articles, if they have been trained to do so, or suggest new articles. These suggestions are implemented with the help of a small team of Knowledge Champions who create new articles based on suggestions.
- Fix articles in the knowledge base. Support Advocates also find articles that are incomplete, out of date, or contain errors. Each time support Advocates identify this, they fix the issue, if they have been trained to, or they flag it, and our Knowledge Champions update the article with the new information. Doing this makes certain that article improvements are implemented quickly.
The biggest advantage of integrating KCS techniques into the support Advocate work, is that the knowledge management maintenance efforts are focused on those articles that are being used. This demand-driven maintenance model ensures that efforts to create new articles and maintain existing articles remains focused on what is needed most.
Part 2, Planning a successful implementation
During our planning phase, we learned about KCS and thought about what our implementation should look like and what workflows we’d need to put in place to support it.
Gathered information on KCS
The first step we took was to establish a small KCS implementation team who started gathering information on KCS and brought the details back to the support Advocacy leadership.
The initial focus was to create really easy processes that were integrated into the work of our support Advocates. The implementation team participated in a KCS Foundations workshop taught by certified trainers as an easy way to get started. This enabled a common vision among the implementation team members and accelerated the implementation.
Designed integrated KCS workflows with the Knowledge Capture app
After gathering details about KCS, it was time to put the theory into practice and we designed workflows that integrated KCS participation using the Knowledge Capture app.
We spent several hours designing these workflows. We involved as many support Advocates and managers in these workflow design discussions as possible to ensure that processes were both feasible and practical.
Here are some of the details for our KCS workflows that are integrated into the support Advocates ticket workflow.
Workflow for connecting tickets to articles
All of our support Advocates are encouraged to link articles and tickets:
- The Knowledge Capture app is visible each time our support Advocates work a ticket
- Support Advocates click Link article each time an article is relevant.
- Linking to an article inserts the article title with a functioning hyperlink into the public reply.
- The data is captured for reporting purposes each time articles are linked.
Workflow for filling knowledge base gaps with new articles
Our support Advocates have slightly different processes to follow for new articles, depending on their level of experience.
For our more experienced support Advocates, they are encouraged to create new articles while they are working on tickets. They use the app to create new articles as needed.
For our support Advocates who aren’t trained to create new articles, they can suggest new articles. The process to suggest a new article looks like this:
- With the app, search with the term "ks_new" to locate the article titled “New Article Suggestion”. This article contains the structured sections to make sure the suggestion is complete.
- When this article is visible on the list within the app, click the title of this article and insert responses to each section to provide a complete suggestion.
- When all information is provided, click the Send feedback button.
- Now, a new ticket is created and assigned to the KCS Publishers group. The KCS Publisher group is monitored by a specially trained team of support Advocates called Knowledge Champions who receive specialized training and are allocated time to publish new articles and update existing ones.
Workflow for updating existing knowledge base articles
Again, our support Advocates have slightly different processes to follow for updating existing articles, depending on their level of experience.
For our more experienced support Advocates, they are encouraged to update existing articles while they are working on tickets. They edit existing articles directly, as needed.
For our support Advocates who aren’t trained to fix existing articles, they can report issues with existing articles in the knowledge base. The process to flag an existing article for improvement looks like this:
- Search for the article using the app.
- When viewing the article with the app, find the information that is incorrect, click on the chat bubble to the left, and add a comment below it.
- Once you have added your suggested edits to the article, click Send feedback.
- A message populates at the top of the module when you click Send feedback, linking you to the newly created ticket sent to the KCS Publisher group.
Part 3, Putting our plan into action
Once we had our planning done, we were ready to launch a pilot and then move on to the full rollout.
Selected a pilot team for the initial implementation
Nearly all successful KCS implementation starts with a small team first to test the processes and training materials. We followed this best practice and selected a small pilot team to start with.
We took the time necessary to gather feedback before moving on to the next teams. We found that we needed to allow more time in our implementation schedule to adapt processes and training materials based on input from the pilot team of support Advocates.
Established a rolling implementation for training remaining teams
After completing the initial pilot of KCS and the Knowledge Capture app implementation, we moved forward with a rolling implementation schedule for the remaining teams. After the pilot, rolling out to additional teams became easier and smoother.
We utilized the services of our analytics and training teams to help design reporting and training materials that supported the implementation. We found that training was a really critical step in the implementation process.
We completed the full global implementation in 7 weeks for 150 of our support Advocates.
Here are some of the detailed steps specifically around training.
- Our implementation depended on the training resources who work within a centralized team. Our first step was to ensure that these trainers were available to support the implementation.
- Instructional materials were developed by the training team and then were reviewed by the KCS implementation team. As the pilot concluded, the training materials were updated to incorporate feedback.
- Training sessions were scheduled for all teams throughout the globe with local instructors as often as possible. We didn’t employ a “train-the-trainer” methodology to ensure that the information was shared consistently.
- Upon completion of the rolling implementation, we embedded the KCS training materials into our New Hire training materials.
- We then implemented a special training session for our Team Leads so they would know how to coach each support Advocate to engage the knowledge processes in the most authentic way possible.
- Finally, to ensure that everyone has the information they need, we continue to host a KCS Refresher training session each month. These are offered for each region of the globe and are hosted by local instructors.
Part 4, Encouraging ongoing engagement
We created an ongoing communication plan that targets the support Advocates, their managers, and our executive sponsors.
We took the time to communicate progress and success with each group, which was helpful in keeping their support and participation in KCS.
Our ongoing communication plan includes the following elements:
- KCS Council. Our KCS Council meets monthly and is comprised of representatives from our support Advocacy organization. The KCS Council has 12-15 members who are located throughout the globe and represent support Advocates, team leads, managers, and directors.
- Newsletter. Our KCS monthly newsletter is sent to all members of the support Advocacy organization. The content of the newsletter differs each month depending on what is happening. We have featured a Q&A section, spotlight on a specific successful support Advocate, updates on progress toward participation goals, updates on processes, and announcements on tool upgrades that are coming.
- Survey. Our support Advocates KCS survey is administered twice a year to keep a pulse on how our communication, training, processes, and tools are working. It is a valuable source of information to help us make decisions on where we need to improve .
- Slack channel. Our KCS Slack channel is used regularly by our support Advocates and managers to ask questions, report issues and concerns.
Simplicity was the key to success
Early on, we set very aggressive targets for participation. For example, initially we expected 100% of all tickets would have some KCS engagement. We found that setting aggressive targets during early phases of implementation created high anxiety from our Support Advocates.
In the end, we found that giving the support Advocates time to accept the new workflows without specific expectations allowed us to set participation goals that drove the right behaviors.
Support Advocate adoption of KCS practices continues to increase, and continues to deliver improvements to our knowledge base every day.
Since January 2017, our support Advocates have created hundreds of new articles and flagged even more for improvements. Additionally, they've connected articles to tickets many thousands of times.
We simply couldn’t have delivered as many new articles and article improvements without the help of our support Advocates. So, keeping it integrated in their work was the key to our success!
Sorry, but approach you use to create an article is not the way recommended by KCS. KCS teaches to create articles working with tickets in order:
- not to lose tacit knowledge
- not to make it as some kind of "additional effort"
- capture symptoms right away so two engineers with the same problems may find "work in progress" article and collaborate.
Hi Anton! I'm so glad to see your comment. You are absolutely correct in noticing that we don't have 100% of our support Advocates trained to create new articles. And you are right to highlight that this means, at the moment we don't have a "pure" KCS implementation. I should have highlighted above that our KCS implementation is still maturing and we have more items on our roadmap to complete. This includes addressing the training needs of the support Advocates who haven't yet received authoring training. We have completed a pilot in that area and are still digesting the right training approach to move forward with. So, for everyone else reading, Anton is correct, in a pure KCS implementation, all support Advocates are trained to create new articles. Have a good one!
Really nice write up Melissa. Thanks for sharing your KCS journey to date. Very impressive results so far.
We're extremely excited to see the Zendesk Support team adopting KCS internally and using the KC app. No better endorsement for your customers than that!
I know there is some work left to be done in terms of your rollout. What Phase are you in with respect to the KCS Adoption? (REF: http://library.serviceinnovation.org/KCS_Adoption_Guide)
Hi Ryan! Thanks for reading! Here at Zendesk in the Support Advocacy organization, we are later in Phase 2 and looking forward to getting into Phase 3. We have lots of momentum at the moment!
Success begets success. I like how you're keeping things small and using the team's momentum to expand the roles/rights of your publishers -- textbook KCS. Well done.
Best of luck with your Phase 2 Exit.
How about routine requests that are more task than knowledge related? For example, we have an internal help desk where the same end users create many tickets. There is no prospect of ticket deflection as the user is not asking a question. Instead, they are asking fo a task to be done (create a new code for a supplier)
There will be procedures for Agents to follow, hopefully those procedures are in the knowledge base. But cross referencing this to tickets every time does not add much value when the same agent may do dozens of these requests each day.
Thanks for reading this article and sharing your question.
I hope I'm not suggesting something you are already doing, if so, let me know. So, if you are still early in your KCS implementation, I'd be inclined choose to prioritize my efforts on those tickets were KCS was likely to capture that new knowledge needed to support the work your agents are doing or improve quality of existing articles. I would not ignore those task oriented tickets, but would probably set them farther down the roadmap when the higher value efforts have been put in place.
If you have been doing KCS for a while, then it might be a nice time to evaluate these very repetitive and manual processes to identify if it is possible to automate it, or enable a more self-service approach to be implemented. This moves the conversation into the Evolve loop side of KCS, where we start to think about how we can improve the efficiency of the organization by looking at ways we can change processes to be more efficient. I'm a huge fan of automation and make every effort to use it when possible.
Best of luck!
Thanks, Mellisa. That makes sense to me.
Hi, i'm interested in your line 'The data is captured for reporting purposes each time articles are linked.' How is the data captured and how do you include it in a report? Thanks!
That data is captured in Insights if you're using the Knowledge Capture app, so you can build you own reports. There are also default dashboards, which are described here.
Hope that helps!
Awesome, thanks Jennifer. Is it possible in Explore too?
Hi Chris...here is a bit more detail on this. When advocates use the Guide Knowledge Capture app to link articles, this creates custom fields and tags on the ticket based on workflows set up. The data about app activities is captured in a custom Insights dashboard and you can also create custom reports based off these fields.
The KC app reporting is not yet available in Explore. Only Insights for now.
Hello I logged in to the account for experience but when I'm out of the office I can not edit and create new leads in the app on the phone when in the past it was possible
Hi Lior, can you walk us through a specific example of what you were able to do before, step by step?
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