What’s New in Your Zendesk: Establishing Innovation

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Every quarter we get you up-to-date on the latest Zendesk feature releases and walk you through best practice configurations so that you can take advantage of these features right away. This 30-minute session also includes a special segment showcasing examples of customers who have innovated with Zendesk.

Watch the recorded webinar and discover how to encourage self-service with our Mobile SDK and Embeddables suite, and hear how some administrators thought outside the box to streamline their workflows.

Gartner: Why You Need To Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy

Regardless of the industry, businesses everywhere are investing in customer self-service options to improve the customer service experience. In fact, according to a March 2015 report from Gartner, two-thirds of customer service interactions will not require the support of a human intermediary by the year 2017. As more and more businesses embrace self-service, research is beginning to show what works and what doesn’t for ensuring customer self-service satisfaction.

In the report, Why You Need To Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy*, Gartner reveals its findings on how a strong self-service strategy can reduce operational costs, drive personalized customer experiences, and increase engagement. Among the many insights about self-service, you’ll learn why:

  • A customer self-service strategy should be part of a larger, holistic strategy
  • Self-service capabilities should be cross-channel
  • Information across all self-service engagements should be consistent and relevant
  • Self-service should take into account customer data insights for proactive support
  • Mobile self-service should be considered in any customer self-service strategy

Take your self-service strategy to the next level with a complimentary copy of the Gartner report Why You Need To Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy.

The full report is no longer available for complimentary download. Read more about this and other Gartner research on the Gartner website.

*Gartner, Why You Need to Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy, B. Manusama, 17 March 2015

Empowering Your Customers with Self-Service

Getting Started with Self-Service webinar logo

As your customer base and your business grow, you'll be faced with the challenge of scaling support. One of the best ways to help scale is to enable and empower customers to search and discover information on their own, before they submit a ticket. In this 30-minute webinar, you'll learn how to:

  • Drive self-service by building an effective knowledge base and engaging community
  • Customize your Help Center to reflect your brand's look-and-feel
  • Get your customers (and agents) to self-serve as their first course of action

This webinar is a must-see for anyone getting started with Zendesk. Watch now, or register for our next session to participate in a live Q&A.

Do you really need a technical writer for your knowledge base?

Building a knowledge base for internal reference or customer self-help is a long-term commitment. You not only need to dedicate resources up front in order to stock it with valuable content, you have to decide how to maintain it on an ongoing basis in order to keep it relevant and up to date.

Your resource allocation decision often depends on what type of product or service you're supporting and whether the complexity or level of detail will require the skills of an experienced technical writer. Whether you have the need of a technical writer or not, there'll be times when an engineering approach to writing content for a knowledge base makes the most sense. Other times, that task can be part of the customer support role.

A knowledge engineering approach requires subject matter experts or a dedicated technical writer or documentation team to write and review all the content before making it public. A more demand-driven approach puts the production and maintenance of knowledge in the hands of the whole team with the support agents as the driving force.

The case for knowledge engineering
Technical writers and experienced documentation teams are particularly skilled in making even the most complex information easier to understand, so there are certain situations where this approach is the only sensible way to go.

If very high level of accuracy is important, the knowledge engineering approach is a good choice, since both accuracy and consistency of style and tone are easier to achieve with professional technical or documentation writers. Also, the content creation process tends to be more formal and thought out when it is a standalone function, and the quality of the content often reflects that fact.

Another good use case for knowledge engineering is any instance in which the product or service being supported does not experience frequent or significant changes. If there's not much change in the product or environment, then there's no need to factor in frequent additions and updates to your knowledge articles. You can make the investment up front to hire a contract technical writer to create your knowledge base from scratch or even to introduce upgrades or new products. A good writer will be skilled at anticipating questions before they come and can help you seed the knowledge base with great articles that will stand the test of time.

The case for demand-driven knowledge
Demand-driven knowledge, on the other hand, integrates content creation with your support process. It accepts that knowledge is always changing and improving, and that's reflected in the way knowledge base articles are written and improved over time.

For example, agents search for known answers in the knowledge base when they're working a support ticket; if they don't find an answer, they create a new knowledge article. If they do find a relevant article that's out of date or incorrect, they fix it on the spot or change it to 'draft' so it can be reviewed and updated.

Naturally, not everyone on your team will have an affinity for writing help articles, so keep articles in draft or internal-only mode until they can be reviewed by another team member.

Two key components of a successful demand-driven approach are:

  • Pre-defined, clearly structured templates for guiding agents on what information to include
  • A well-understood content standard explaining precisely how to write an article

Through experience and ongoing coaching from capable team members, you'll see improvements in the quality of internally produced articles from your support staff. As you identify the agents that write the best help articles, you can promote them to Help Center manager roles, so they can directly publish their content to your self-service portal.

The case for having it both ways
In many cases, a blend of these two approaches works best. Your technical writer can produce the customer-facing articles, while your support team collectively owns and manages the internal knowledge base. By analyzing search results, you'll know which internal articles are used most frequently. With just a little editing, these most-used articles are great candidates for external publication, driving an increase in ticket deflection.

Whichever approach you take to creating your self-service content, encourage your support agents to search the whole knowledge base (including the community) for known answers before spending time and effort to rediscover each solution all over again.

What's your documentation process? Head over to the Zendesk Community to talk about it! Participate in the discussions around topics including: Do you use templates to guide your agents or tech writers?

Continue reading

6 Tips for Building a Thriving Help Center

Customers want to help themselves. They are more technically savvy than ever and have come to prefer the DIY approach to solving their issues and answering their own questions. In a recent survey, 67% of respondents said they prefer to self-service over speaking with a representative. And a whopping 91% said they would use a company's online knowledge base to meet their customer service needs.

The goal of this paper is simple: we want to help you build an all-in-one knowledge base, community, and customer portal. All of which can be accomplished with Help Center.

Why you need a Help Center right now!

  • Increase customer satisfaction by providing better service and meeting the needs of customers who prefer self-service
  • Reduce costs and increase efficiency by eliminating repetitive costs so agents can focus on more strategic tasks
  • Grow your business community and build deeper connections between your company and customers

1. Planning: Start with goals
Whether you are just starting to think about launching a Help Center or simply looking to improve what you have, the first and most vital step is to define what it is you hope to achieve. Is your purpose to reduce the number of support tickets being submitted to your staff? Or is it simply to foster relationships and engagements amongst your customers and employees? These are some ideas to think about, but the important thing is to identify the right goals for your business and work to get consensus up front amongst key stakeholders.

Learn more:
Information to include in your knowledge base
Six questions to ask before setting up your community

2. Measure for improvement
It is important to begin measuring the performance of your Help Center from day one. Keeping track of things like:

  • Community analytics stats
  • Resolution times
  • Percentage of issues resolved by staff vs. those solved via the Help Center

will help you understand if your Help Center is effective and what areas need to be improved.

It's also extremely important to track the kinds of content that are being utilized by your customers. Knowing this will help you decide what content you need more of, such as specific topics or FAQs.

Learn more:
How to calculate (and maximize) the value of your self-service channels

3. Mobile is not an "option"
It is important to provide a seamless experience so your customers have the same level of service whether they're visiting your Help Center on a laptop, tablet, or phone.

As noted by the Zendesk Benchmark, the rise of the mobile consumer is clear. Everyone has heard about the consumer shift to mobile with the rise of smartphones and tablets; these trends are apparent in consumer preferences for engaging with brands through forums and help centers.

Learn more:
Using the mobile layout

4. Employee participation and moderation
Self-service doesn't mean setting up a site and not getting involved. Your employees should take an active role. It shows that you are listening to and care about customer behavior and feedback.

And by employees, we don't just mean your customer service team, we mean everyone:

  • Marketing: see how customers interact with each other and help foster those relationships. The Help Center is also a great way to find and become familiar with your customer evangelists.
  • Product and support: help answer questions and respond to comments. These departments working together can take what they learn from the community and use it to speed up the feedback cycle. They can also use this opportunity to listen to ideas from customers and collect feedback.
  • Sales: being active in the Help Center connects your sales, the front-line of your business, with your customers. Also, the Help Center gives excellent insight for an ongoing sales cycle.

Learn more:
Help Center guide for agents and end-users

5. Focus on the user experience
User experience is incredibly important. You might have done everything right in terms of getting people to your site, but if you don't provide a great experience, they won't stay long and won't return.

It is extremely important to provide easy navigation to the things that matter most. For example, search is an important feature that your customers will be looking for. Make sure it's easy to find and use. Ask yourself: Can I provide and promote the things that matter most to my customers? Can I organize all my content in an effective way?

It's also important to create something visually appealing — to give customers a place where they will want to spend their time. Consider adding rich media options. Many customers have come to expect things like videos, webinars, and images alongside text. Look for expertise on your web or design team for best practices, and test, test, test! Your Help Center is always a work in progress, so look at what works and doesn't work and adjust accordingly.

One of the best ways to get customer feedback is to ask for it: Did they find what they were looking for? Do they have suggestions for improvement? A short survey can take you a long way toward creating an engaging user experience.

Learn more:
Resources for designing your Help Center
Optimizing your content for search

6. Put on your marketing hat!
What's the use of a Help Center if no one is using it? Once you have selected your technology, set your goals, and built out your site, you need to drive users there. With this step, it is important to involve your marketing team, or at least to start thinking like a marketer. How are you going to invite and attract visitors? How are you going to promote the site or even particular aspects of the site? And, are there ways to leverage the community to help support other marketing programs?

Learn more:
Driving traffic to your knowledge base and forums

Set up and maintenance of a Help Center is easier than it may seem. Define your goals early so that they guide your implementation, and always keep your customer at the forefront as you make decisions. Once your Help Center is set up, you can begin measuring success right away — success that will only increase the more you stay involved.

See some great Help Centers in action

Start using Help Center today!


Think about when your customers need help the most. Waiting in line? Watching TV? Cooking dinner? Last-minute gift buying? Did you know 45% of U.S. customers are very likely to abandon their online purchases if they can't find quick answers to their questions?

There are probably a dozen other instances you can think of when customers need help and they want it fast. Right-now service is the expectation of customers today — via smartphone, social media, or a company's website. They want to check their accounts, buy products, and find answers to their questions in a matter of seconds.

Companies that provide excellent customer service today are the ones that optimize their self-service to meet the rising expectations of connected customers. Our infographic explores the growing demand for customer self-service.


Customers want to help themselves?

Studies tell us that more and more customers prefer self-service over contacting a support agent; and as our infographic illustrates, a whopping 91% say they would use a knowledge base if it met their needs. This is great news for businesses; self-service is the fastest and most cost-effective way to customer support.

Customers want to help themselves?