Whether you’re playing in the B2B or B2C leagues, self-service—useful content about your product or service contained in a branded knowledge base—is the name of the game. It’s how customers prefer to troubleshoot issues syncing their fitness tracker with your app, for example. And it helps global businesses scale smartly via a knowledge-centered model of customer support.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Proper knowledge management principles have proven to reduce ticket volume. It increases efficiency and agent satisfaction by reducing the number of repetitive, rote questions that pop into your queue.

Despite its demonstrated value and ROI, the idea of investing time and resources into building a knowledge management infrastructure—or asking for the time and resources to do it—can be daunting, which is one of the more common reasons support leaders are hesitant to implement this solution. Often, they foresee a mountain of writing and maintenance that goes into self-service.

Incorporating self-service content into your agents’ and support team workflow is easier than you think. Firstly, it’s already happening: your agents are probably doing it every day they’re working hard to serve your customers. In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get a swarthy knowledge base in place.

Here’s how.

Real Talk

That’s not to say culling and centralizing disparate info will be a walk in the park. For a self-service initiative to succeed, workstreams will, indeed, be modified. Expectations will be set at all levels, and someone in-house should be project-managing the self-service projects and communicating with stakeholders across the business. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Michael Redbord, VP of Services & Support at HubSpot, recommends dedicating a full-time person to building the knowledge base and providing customer education support. It’ll take consistent investment from everyone on your support team, consistently driving customers and employees to the resource via links within tickets or proactive chats.

Overhaul Clunky Processes

Think of all the writing, chatting, unofficial, undocumented knowledge sharing and repeat work that is done day after day—and consider how funneling all of that content into your self-service umbrella can streamline your agent operations and leave them more empowered. For example, raise your hands (no judgement) if your knowledge base is currently a Google Docs disaster, piles of disparate knowledge loosely organized around certain themes or topics? Though that format leaves something to be desired, there is a ton of knowledge base content, created for and by your agents, right there, that can be repositioned into external knowledge base content that serves the greater good. It’s just a matter of organizing it into something meant to be a navigable resource instead of a reactive info dump.

Turn Everyday Ticket Responses Into Knowledge Base Content

Your agents are unofficially writing knowledge base articles all the time; they’re just internal responses to open tickets instead of external-facing self-service content. Analyze your tickets, which are teeming with data, and cull the responses agents write in tickets. These can and should be converted into individual knowledge base articles. And they’ll help streamline agent workflow in the future; centralizing the content means they’ll have to repeat themselves less.

Take it a step further and pay special attention to one-touch tickets—the ones resolved with ​a simple response​​—and your ​commonly used public macros. This content already exists and can be repurposed for a growing knowledge base.

Tap agents to identify which macros are the most useful in the course of their days, and task a small group with flagging those for upcoming knowledge base articles. Task another group with identifying one-touch tickets over the last quarter, and the content that helped achieve such a speedy resolution.

Empower Agents To Leverage SMEs (and Even Become Them)

Your subject-matter experts are all over your business. They’re your front-line support agents walking customers through pain points and complex tickets, from whichever tier or triage team they may sit. They’re sales associates who hear about your customers’ wishlists day in and day out, and they’re your product management folks who are deep in the guts of creating something worthy of all the hype. Every one of these people is a potential touchpoint for multiple knowledge base articles.

For example, you could identify business partners across the business and invite them to a team meeting. Throw all of the most common concerns and complaints about your product or service and start grouping the output into themes. What are people talking about the most? These are good internal jumping-off points for potential self-service themes.

This approach also instills pride in your agents: by talking with other SMEs, and becoming SMEs in their own right, they may feel more ownership and expertise over their part of the business. Plus, one or more agents may have a flair for writing or a knack for expressing the nuanced steps to a fix. Pay attention to their skill and enthusiasm and consider how they can be positioned as self-service fulcrum points, managing the creation of self-service content.

Invest In The Right Tech Tools To Support Your Growth

Workflow is one thing (an important thing), but so are the right tech tools to get the job done. Artificial intelligence stands to augment, not replace, your agents’ experience in this regard, as some of the most exciting AI developments are happening within the knowledge management community. For example, Zendesk Answer Bot serves up automatic answers and learns from your agents’ patterns. Other tools, such as Touchpoints from MindTouch, integrate with Zendesk to help support agents answer customer questions, provide meaningful direction, and close tickets faster.

By incorporating these small detours into your existing agent workflows, you’re well on your way to self-service success that meets the needs of a scaling business.

Additional categories: Customer Experience, Customer Support