The Knowledge Roundtable is a group of Zendesk customers who have responsibility for knowledge and self-service at their companies. They share their expertise with you here on a specific topic.
The topic this time is: What are you doing to improve self-service?
Meet the panel and read their advice below:
- Maggie Ungerboek, Manager of Training & Education, Ungerboeck Software
- Zac, Manager of Global Customer Care Operations, Fossil Group
- Andrei Kamarouski, Private Business Consultant, Zendesk expert
- Mary Paez, Knowledge Manager, Veeva
- Maggie St. Clair, Community Specialist, Cargas
- Ben Garris and Sarah Boyd, KCS Program Managers, Republic Wireless
- Jennifer Eolin, Product Manager, Medidata Solutions
Be sure to add a comment to ask a question or share your ideas. And check out the complete list of KM Roundtable discussions.
Maggie Ungerboeck, Manager of Training & Education, Ungerboeck Software
In December 2017/January 2018, we rolled out an entirely new Guide experience for our customers. Working with Zendesk, we made changes to the Home page so the Community was the main focus when users first logged in. We wanted to encourage our customers to ask questions and engage in discussions before they reached out to us for assistance. We also completely reworked our Communities to better segment the discussions so people could engage in the topics that fit best with how they use our product.
We have also been putting a lot of effort into creating a Video Portal within the Guide where our customers can find short how-to videos. We use Vimeo for video storage (can store them in a private, restricted area,) and they can be played in a video player in Guide. They are added as articles in the background but to our customers, it appears as a dedicated Video Portal.
We recently added Hotjar which records our customers using the Guide. I review these videos to get more details on our customers’ Guide experience. The Hotjar recordings allow me to see more context around how our customers are using the Guide, such as what the user clicked on, what search terms they are using, what results they clicked on and how they refined their search if they didn’t get the result they wanted, etc. I then use that information to make adjustments to tags, create better article titles or better target new content so our customers can better find whatever they are looking for.
Future plans include making adjustments to the Guide experience based on our customers’ usage. We are looking to highlight the current active community discussions on the Home page instead of just the topics and to also have a way for our users to see more recent Community activity. We are also going to make some adjustments to the Community topics – combining some that aren’t getting used that often so our customers can be less overwhelmed when choosing where to post a question. We’ll continue to dig into the information we get from Hotjar. Since this is relatively new for us, I’m still exploring the different ways it could help us improve self-service.
Zac, Manager of Global Customer Care Operations, Fossil Group
Andrei Kamarouski, Private Business Consultant, Zendesk expert
Today, an efficient self-service environment is very important for any business. Ultimately it allows you to cut support costs dramatically but requires to act in a systematic and evidence-based way. That's not easy but if you master self-service the ROI is fantastic.
In my business consulting practice I often help companies create or scale their self-service environment using Zendesk. And I noticed that many of them see self-service as something irrelevant or even negative for their support strategy – as a de-personalized 'support'.
This meaning is based on the belief that clients don't like helping themselves, they don't like to search information in the knowledge bases and like to be 'served'. But many studies show the opposite: self-service is often the №1 option in getting support (online or offline). The real problem is that self-service environment is often not well organized to make customers happy.
The KCS (Knowledge Centered Service) methodology which I am using for setting up self-service environment has very clear practical guidelines for creating an efficient self-service environment. It allows you to create well-structured content (articles) and organize it into knowledge base where the solutions are easy to find (findable) and to apply (usable).
To improve existing self-service environment the following practices are used:
1. Optimize existing content
Flag and fix the outdated content pieces (facts, descriptions etc)
Extend content with information about new products, services etc
2. Create missing content
Explore topics in content search trends in KB (and Community)
Check articles density and consistency in different sections of KB
3. Collect customer feedback (and other data) and improve based on it
Collect and analyze results of the self-service experience survey
Analyze tickets about (self-)service issues of your customers
Analyze web analytics data of using KB (visitors flows, ticket creation funnel etc)
4.Design your KB to look attractive and making customers happy with using it
- Make accent on the search box to be used first when a customer comes to KB
- Use clear images to give an overview of the whole KB structure (categories)
- Make attractive buttons to stimulate articles feedback (useful or not)
5. Promote your KB as much as possible (in all channels online and offline)
Place information about KB on all marketing materials and ads
Put web-widget with activated KB on the website(s) to stimulate search first
Use virtual agent (chatbot) as your 1st line support channel fueled with KB content
Happy self-service for you and your customers!
Mary, Knowledge Manager, Veeva
We are working on the following things to improve self-service:
- Improving agent response to Answer Bot
- Making article titles concise and findable using labels
- Participating more in the communities
We hope to make progress with Answer Bot, but it might take some time. We want to get our resolution rate up. I thought it might be because Agents were not responding but now they are. Also, I am making titles more concise because they were very wordy.
Maggie St. Clair, Community Specialist, Cargas
While we have been using Zendesk for both our support portal and knowledge base for over six years now, we have not had anyone really focused on managing the content in our knowledge base until this year. This means that not only do we need to focus on adding more content to our KB, but we also need to develop a plan to review and possibly edit our published articles.
Our Product Team is constantly making improvements to our software and releasing new features so our documentation can quickly become outdated. As we grow and bring on more customers, it is extremely important that we move towards more self-service for our customers rather than add headcount to our Support Team.
Here are two changes we made this year to improve self-service:
Track what articles we need to add to our KB. Both our Consulting Team and Support Team rely heavily on KB articles to answer customer questions that come up frequently. The hope is that by suggesting articles to read, customers will eventually go to the Help Center first and search for a topic before entering a ticket. Agents are now using the Knowledge Capture app regularly to point customers towards articles that will provide them with the answers they are looking for.
When an agent cannot find an article that would be helpful, they add the topic to a spreadsheet. I review this Google doc spreadsheet regularly and prioritize the articles. Currently, we rely on our consultants do the majority of our content creation. When they have downtime, they will access this document and start working on the high priority articles. They will assign the article to themselves; when complete a small team will review the completed articles and publish. By tracking via the Google platform, we have limited the number of duplicate articles we are creating and make sure we are focusing on the most relevant content.
- Utilize labels in a different way. Since we have customers using many different versions of our software, it is common for us to have customers using an older version and others using the newest version. This means that we need to have documentation on old functionality as well as the newly rewritten functionality. As parts of our software are rewritten, we now go in and add a label (for example old_budget_routine) to the older articles so it is easier to find the articles that pertain to the old process or routine. Once we know that all of our customers have moved to a newer version and the process is no longer in use, we can easily find and delete the old articles because of the labels on the articles.
Our ultimate goal is to enable Answer Bot, but at this time we don’t feel that we have enough articles available to make it worthwhile. By focusing on adding new articles and keeping track of articles that need to be edited or removed, we can ensure that customers can easily find what they need… thus improving the chances that they will start utilizing the self-service options instead of just entering a support ticket.
Ben Garris and Sarah Boyd, KCS Program Managers, Republic Wireless
At Republic Wireless, our support model is strictly online, so being able to self-serve is extremely important. First and foremost, we follow the Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) methodology, so that in and of itself lends to a self-service model. We’re constantly evaluating and looking for new ways to drive traffic to our Help Center.
Here are some of the things we’re working on, or have worked on recently, as well as some items we’d like to work on in the near future.
- As I mentioned above, we do not have a traditional call center so we handle our support issues through tickets, chat, and our knowledge base. By simply linking to articles within our Help Center, that teaches our customers answers can be found there and if they use that in the future, they can find answers as well. We also keep a good pulse on what articles our customers are being linked and what articles they’re viewing the most. We keep track of our top viewed and top linked articles on a weekly basis, so that if a trend pops up, we can quickly react and alert the proper teams. From there, we can determine how we should disperse information about that trend (i.e. email, text message, homepage alert, etc…).
Improving SEO is a pretty big piece of the pie when it comes to self-service. These days, most people search for answers on their favorite search engine rather than going directly to the company’s website. This means you need to make sure you are keeping up with and following SEO industry standards. We work with a third party that helps us keep up to date with those standards and spoon feeds us suggestions. It’s also important to note that all of our articles are written with the member’s own words. This inherently makes them easier to find on search engines. For articles that receive the most traffic, we scrutinize those more for SEO best practices.
- Additionally, we are using a third party for our search platform within our Help Center, so it’s important to fully understand how their search algorithm works and how to manipulate the search results. For example, we have the ability to link a phrase to a specific article. So when a customer types that phrase into our search, the article we specified will show up first. This search platform also provides results from both our knowledge base and our forum, which is mainly a support forum. This increases the chances of our customers finding an answer to their issue.
- We recently completed a New Vs. Known analysis (part of the KCS methodology), which tells us what percentage of issues our agents work are new (meaning they aren’t documented) and which issues are known (they have been documented). From there, we can take a deeper look at our known issues and determine what the most common ones are. We can then delve even deeper at those issues or processes to see how we can improve them or how we can increase their findability. For example, if we found out there was an internal process that was being used often, we could potentially make that process available to our customers to do themselves. If there’s an external article that’s being used a lot, we could create a content strategy for getting it into the proper channels for higher visibility (i.e. email, video, webinar, etc…).
- We’re currently in the process of revamping our Help Center homepage. As it stands now, our homepage is largely focused on search. We have a giant search bar and only some headers above the fold. While it seems like search might be a good idea to have so prominent, as to drive more self-service through search, we have found that most of our customers do not search directly on our Help Center. Most of our traffic comes organically, either through linking or from search engines. This tells us that most people that reach our Help Center, are already there for a specific reason, either they want to directly open a ticket or they want to browse and find the answer for themselves. Our new design will still have a prominent search, but it will also cater to “browsers” by listing out our knowledge sections and featured/recent content.
- We also have plans to work on a few more items that will help drive more traffic to our Help Center. First, we plan on sending out quarterly surveys to our customers that will gauge how much they know about our Help Center, how often they use it, or if they find it easy to use and find answers. Based on the results, we can take appropriate actions to improve the Help Center experience, whether that be a campaign to raise awareness, rearranging the homepage, revamping our knowledge structure, improving SEO, etc...
- Search is another project we’d like to learn and understand more about. By utilizing Google Analytics, we’d like to view a user’s journey in relation to when they open tickets. If we can see what articles they viewed before or after opening a ticket, we can piece together a bigger understanding of how our Help Center is used, or not used. In addition, we’d like to delve deeper into our third party search platform to get a sense of what our customers are searching for and what words or phrases they’re using. We can then take those learnings and improve our SEO within those specific articles.
- Lastly, we plan on opening up our articles for feedback from our customers. We currently let a small number of our most dedicated and loyal customers provide feedback on them, but we’d like to open that up to all of our customers. We feel It’s important to provide customers with a feedback option because it not only improves the article itself, but it gives us an idea of what articles are being used and what articles are being helpful.
Jennifer Eolin, Product Manager, Medidata Solutions
The "Hello" problem
- Write a general article that will help your customer navigate your Help Center on their own. For example, I wrote a general article about our chat hours, availability, and how to use search in the Web Widget using keywords. See my "Hello" article here.
- Add labels for all the words you find in Insights that do not yield an article, such as "please," "help," and "I need."
- To keep your customers inside of Help Center, add a custom list of Help Center articles to the bottom of your general article (or any other top article) to encourage self-service in your Help Center.