FAQs: Your Community's Best Friend

There’s nothing more annoying than fielding the same question…over and over again.  When I was going through my Lithium training, the instructor said that the rule of thumb was that for every person who has a question, you can assume that 25 people have that same question.

That’s where FAQs in your Community help – especially with deflected tickets.  When I was a Meetup forum moderator, I kept a cheat sheet of FAQs so that I could copy and paste the answer.

For the Zuora Community, nearly all of the questions are technical; customers usually search Google for their answer, which is why it’s crucial to have FAQs for error messages, security issues, “how tos” and so forth.

Customer Solutions Articles (CSAs)

Since we’re on Lithium, we have our support agents write what we call “Customer Solutions Articles” based on questions asked in their Zendesk tickets.  They post the question as the original post, followed by the reply in the subsequent post.  Then they mark the reply as an accepted solution.  Right now, we don’t showcase our accepted solutions (I know, I know….I’ve logged that request with our IT team), but when we do, those will show up.

CSA Tracking

Each CSA is given a “Customer Solutions Article” label so that I can track the number of label views.

Quality Controlled CSAs

In our first year, we used to have a Q&A process, but that took forever to get something posted so the community would get, at most 5 CSAs posted a month, if the agents didn’t have many fires to put out.  The number of views were around 1000 page views/month and the “Customer Solutions Article” label was consistently #1 – not bad for a brand new community!

The problem with this process was that there was a lot of back and forth – checking, editing, rechecking – such that the CSA queue was getting longer and longer and it wasn’t a priority.

Enter…the Kraken!

At the beginning of our 2nd year, the CSA queue got to ~60 pending articles waiting to be quality-checked.  So we said “Screw it…let’s just get the articles out there for our customers!” There were some folks who were hesitant on letting incorrect information float around the Community, but my opinion was that it’ll create a great discussion; any engagement is good engagement to a Community Manager, right? 🙂

So, we released the Kraken…

Liam Neeson Release the Kraken

Did all hell break loose?  No!  Our CSA views skyrocketed to around 4000 views/month!

One can easily assume that a percentage of those views resulted in a deflected ticket as many customers didn’t ask additional questions in the CSAs.  We also had very few corrections.

Wait…it gets better!

Requiring CSAs Upon Ticket Closure Results in Metrics of Gold!

If agents posting CSAs at-will increased the article views 4x as much, we should require agents to write a CSA (if it makes sense) before they’re allowed to close a Zendesk ticket.  Sounds evil, right?

We followed this process for a few months (no more than 2 quarters) and the Community was overflowing with CSAs.  Imagine how many tickets an agent sees a week and translate those tickets into CSAs.  It was awesome and the metrics supported it.

One month prior to this requirement, CSA labels were seeing an average of 4000 page views/month. The month after, CSAs skyrocketed to 7000 page views/month.

While these numbers are impressive, we found that agents were getting burnt out and a little sloppy writing their CSAs, so we went back to posting articles at-will.  Still, our CSA metrics hang out around the upper 7000 page views/month.

FAQs are Your Best Friend

It takes time to build up a FAQ, but the payoff is well worth the effort.  Our agents were reporting that customers were asking fewer lower-hanging fruit type of questions, which made their job more interesting and customers were getting their questions answered.

Start out with 10 FAQs and built it up from there.  Remember that browsers will crawl your site when people Google their questions so keep SEO in mind.