The Knowledge Roundtable is a group of Zendesk customers who have some responsibility for the process of creating and managing content at their companies. They will share their expertise on a specific topic.
The topic this time is: What is your process for maintaining content?
Meet the panel and read their advice below:
- Maggie Ungerboek, Manager of Training & Education, Ungerboeck Software
- Ben Garris and Sarah Boyd, KCS Program Managers, Republic Wireless
- Andrei Kamarouski, Private Business Consultant, Zendesk expert
- Mary Paez and Sahar Padesh, Knowledge Manager and Support Operations Manager, Veeva
- Sherri Anderson, Knowledge Manager
- Rebecca McMurry, Documentation Manager, Zift Solution
Be sure to add a comment to ask a question or share your ideas and workflow. And check out the complete list of KM Roundtable discussions.
Maggie Ungerboek, Manager of Training & Education, Ungerboeck Software
Our Help Center contains articles that document how to use our software. Our software package is large, so we have over 2000 articles, with new articles being added regularly. It’s a lot to maintain but we have a few different ways content gets flagged for updates:
- Knowledge Capture App – Our Support agents flag articles that are out-of-date using the Knowledge Capture App. This automatically creates a Zendesk ticket for the Training & Education Team who does the actual updates to the articles.
- Dedicated Email Inbox – For our internal staff who aren’t using Zendesk tickets but use the Help Center for sharing information with our customers, we have a dedicated email address to send articles that need to be updated. We turn those emails into Zendesk tickets, so we can track the progress of the updates in Zendesk.
- Release Cycle Review – We are a software company that releases new software versions on a regular cycle. We use that release cycle to mark articles that need to be updated with any new information for the new release. This only touches articles that have changes based on the new release so it’s not a full review of all the content in the Knowledge Base.
We also have put some best practices in place to limit how much maintenance we need to do. Some best practices we use are:
- Only having content relevant to our most current software release. We don’t include software version information in our articles, so they don’t have to be updated in the long term.
- Limiting the screen prints of our software. This way if there is a visual or layout change to a screen, the text of the article remains accurate.
We heavily limit who can edit articles and keep it to just one team (Training & Education) to do the work. The negative of this is that it leads to a bottleneck since we have more content updates than people who can do the work. The positive is that we can validate the changes before they are published since only a small group is doing them. We used to allow anyone to make changes which resulted in some bad content and a lot of “overgrowth” in the Help Center. I’m willing to live with a bottleneck on getting the changes done than having to go back through and clean up the mess that can be made by having too many people making article changes who aren’t familiar with how the Help Center works and the best practices we use. I’ve done that once and have no desire to do it ever again!
Any article changes that are identified get turned into tickets that are assigned to the Training & Education Team. We assign priorities to the tickets, so we know which ones are the most important to complete. We work these tickets as time allows so when a team member has available time, they go in, find a ticket to work, make the article change and then close the ticket when it’s complete. If it requires some follow up, that is all done through the ticket so someone else on the Training & Education Team can complete ticket later if needed.
Overall, content maintenance is one of our more daunting tasks but having all our internal staff responsible for flagging articles needing updates and using Zendesk tickets to manage what articles need to be updated goes a long way in keeping the content as up-to-date as possible.
Ben Garris and Sarah Boyd, KCS Program Managers, Republic Wireless
By utilizing the Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) methodology, most of our content gets updated on-demand and in real-time as agents reuse it. Part of KCS is the principle of “every reuse is a review”. This means that every time one of our support agents uses an article, they are to review that article for correctness and adherence to our content standards. If something is out of date, or incorrect, and the agent is a licensed publisher, they then have the responsibility to update the article in real-time. If they’re not licensed, they have the responsibility to flag the article so that a publisher can make the updates.
Since our content is in a continuous review cycle based on usage, we trust this process to improve the accuracy and completeness of information. As part of this process, we utilize the flagging capabilities of the Zendesk Knowledge Capture app in order for our internal agents to flag content that needs to be reviewed if they are not yet licensed to publish content on their own. We have also built in an external feedback mechanism that allows a certain cohort of our customers to provide suggestions for improvement or technical inaccuracies which helps us to keep content up-to-date in real-time. In addition to all of this, we constantly monitor content usage to determine what information should get polished and reviewed for general improvements, usability, and enhancements, based on demand, search history, knowledge gaps, etc. Additionally, we archive content that does not get used. While this is done on an individualized basis, we hope to eventually have a process of planned obsolescence in which our tools allow us to do this in a more efficient and effective manner.
There are situations where we have to do a content audit and do mass updates, such as if a policy changes, etc. When this is necessary, we rely heavily on our search engine and the SEO that we’ve incorporated into articles in order to quickly identify and update the necessary articles.
Before adopting KCS, updating content was a tedious, often never-ending task that only 1 or 2 individuals had the authority to do. Allowing our Help Center to be collectively owned by all of our agents who have earned their publishing license, as well as Knowledge Domain Experts (KDEs), allows for more efficient and effective updating of information when necessary.
Andrei Kamarouski, Private business consultant, Zendesk expert
In the paradigm of KCS (Knowledge Centered Service) that we are applying, content creation is seen a demand-driven process. It means we create/update/archive the knowledge when it is demanded by customers (or partners).
How do we capture this demand? Just by supporting customers. While using knowledge base (Help Center) articles for solving tickets agents can see eventual gaps in the articles and fulfill such gaps. Agents always strive to use knowledge in every case and update them or mark them for update if they don't have rights for immediate editing/publishing of articles. Zendesk's Knowledge Capture app is very helpful for this purpose!
Sometimes we make content updates in bulk. They are also demand-driven but mostly by internal changes (like new products and services, policy updates etc). In this case we are often forced to update many articles at once. This is the area of improvement for Zendesk. :)
Again, according to KCS, content can be updated by every licensed agent (KCS I and above) in compliance with our ‘Content Standard’ guide, but rights for publishing have only agents with KCS III license. We are using simplified workflow for existing articles and skip reviewing for small articles edits. Today with History feature in Zendesk Guide we can see the whole history of the article changes (agents' edits, actions with the article etc.). It's very helpful.
Mary Paez and Sahar Padesh, Knowledge Manager and Support Operations Manager, Veeva
Sherri Anderson, Knowledge Manager
Rebecca McMurray, Documentation Manager, Zift Solution
- How do you know when/what to update?
I attend weekly Engineering reviews and product management feature reviews. In these meetings, I am listening for changes and new features that impact our customers.
I get recommendations from Product Management based on software changes and new features. This may be a completely new document for a feature or just adding a sentence or an image to an existing document.
I get recommendations from our customer facing teams, Support and Customer Success, based on their interactions with customers. Usually this is me adding more clarity to the process or it may be that there was a software change that I was unaware of.
I get recommendations from our new employees who are using the content as they learn our products.
Do you do a regular/scheduled review of content?
I keep a spreadsheet of all my articles in Google Spreadsheets with the URL and the date of the last update. My goal is to update and review them annually. The annual review is also my chance to update the document with new articles or to remove old articles.
Who makes content updates and what is their process?
I make all the content updates.