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  • Writer's pictureNouran Smogluk

How to Improve Your Zendesk Help Center with Analytics

analytics dashboards

Help centers are often a woefully undervalued support channel. In 2023, help centers are unique in that they enable you to both meet your customers’ expectations and scale your support team in a cost-efficient way.

Almost every company has a help center (and if you’re using Zendesk, you’ve got a built-in help center in Zendesk Guide). Heck, even brand-new startups throw up a quick FAQ page when they launch a product. But it’s common for companies to face predictable challenges with their help centers:

  1. Content gets outdated too quickly

  2. Content doesn’t perform the way you expect and self-service rates remain low

These two challenges matter, because data shows that 69% of consumers try to resolve their issues independently before contacting your support team. They can’t do that help themselves when your content is outdated or inaccurate.

On top of that, 90% of customers rate an "immediate" response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question. Most of them then define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less. And delivering human support that quickly is difficult and costly.

That’s why offering your customers an effective way to answer their questions immediately and without contacting you, is in your best interest–and theirs!

But how do you ensure your help center really is that effective?

The answer is simple: analytics.

Building a great Zendesk help center

Every company approaches its help center differently.

Some companies spend weeks or months planning the content and preparing it to publish a “complete” help center in one fell swoop. Others might rely on existing, internal help content they can tweak and import to publish a help center as quickly as possible.

The best approach to building a help center is more agile. You’ll see the biggest results from your help center when you start by publishing a small but impactful set of articles that cover your high-volume issues. Over time, work to expand those articles to cover additional scenarios.

This is why help center analytics are so vital. You need data to understand what the real issues are, how your articles are performing, and whether your customers are even using your help center.

You may be able to get a head start by relying on your experienced support agents — but only when figuring out which articles to start with. Continuous iteration over time requires data, because it’s the only objective way to see what’s working and what isn’t.

5 ways to use analytics to improve your Zendesk help center

Did you know that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience?

Having a great help center enables you to design the whole experience: You can dictate the content, influence how people arrive there, and craft the journey. And at the end of it, your customers walk away with a clear resolution to the challenge they were facing.

It’s easier to provide a positive experience in the help center than to avoid a negative one in a support contact.

The good news is there’s a treasure trove of data that you can use to produce a great help center.

Zendesk has some built-in reports to help you get started with analyzing your help center. For more detailed looks into your help center’s performance you can manually build reports with Google Analytics or you can leverage tools like Help Center Analytics.

Here are five ways to use analytics to improve your help center:

  • Increase ticket deflection

  • Improve the ratio of help center views

  • Tailor your articles to search results

  • Make your articles more helpful

  • Adapt the content based on user flows

Increase ticket deflection

If there’s one self-service KPI that reigns supreme, it’s probably ticket deflection.

Ticket deflection is the proportion of tickets your help center prevented from being created. It’s easy to translate to ROI but suffers from one major problem: there’s no way to know how many of those deflected tickets happened because the customer got frustrated and abandoned your site (rather than successfully resolving their issue).

That said, ticket deflection still provides a good signal of how effective your help center is. Unfortunately, Zendesk doesn’t offer a native way to measure it.

To measure ticket deflection, you can:

  1. Use Help Center Analytics to see how many people create a ticket after visiting a specific article. This is one of the most direct ways to measure ticket deflection.

  2. Use Google Analytics to track how many people view your “Submit a ticket” page and another page in the same session.

  3. Compare how many views an article had against how many tickets were created about that topic. Note that this doesn’t necessarily indicate causality, but it does give you a sense of whether customers can find the article and solve their issue.

You can improve ticket deflection in many ways:

  • Make your help center easy to find.

  • Improve the content of articles and make them more relevant.

  • Ensure that customers reach what they’re looking for in as few steps as possible.

Each of these is covered in more detail below.

Improve the ratio of help center views

Your help center can only be effective if customers can find it and use the information.

One way to measure if customers can find your content is to look at the ratio of help center views compared to the number of tickets created. Zendesk suggests measuring self-service score, but a more granular metric is to look at the article to ticket conversion rate:

Article views to ticket conversion rate to measure how good an article is at ticket deflection

Article to ticket conversion rate gives you clear insight into how well a help center article deflects tickets

Like this metric? It’s one (of many) that’s immediately available within Help Center Manager. Start a 14-day free trial today to try it out on your own help center!

If your score is low, that’s an indication that people can’t find the article when they need it or that the article itself isn’t helpful. While that’s not great news, it gives you a clear and actionable next step: make the article better!

28% of consumers say the most frustrating issue with websites or apps is when simple information is hard to find.

Make your help center easy to find by:

  • Linking it visibly on your website and email footers.

  • Working on search engine optimization so relevant articles are suggested in search engines.

  • Integrating help articles directly into your product, as close to where customers experience problems as possible

  • Encouraging your agents to use help articles in their replies so customers know where to find further help. Zendesk can even measure this if you use the Knowledge Capture App.

Tailor articles to search results

Search results are the best indicator of what your customers are looking for.

If you’ve worked in support for a while, you already know that if you ask one hundred people to describe the same problem, they’ll all have their own way of describing it.

You can use search results to tailor your titles and the content of your articles:

  • Write new articles to cover searches that don’t have any content.

  • If a longer article does provide the answer but doesn’t get clicked on, break that up into shorter, more targeted ones.

  • Change the titles, so they match up with the terminology your customers are using.

  • Find new opportunities to leverage your help center, e.g., if people often search for a known bug or issue.

Make articles more helpful

If your help center gets viewed a lot, but you still aren’t happy with ticket deflection, you probably need to improve the article’s content.

One of the best ways to see that is in the helpfulness rating. The higher the proportion of people who rate your article as not helpful, the more likely there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Zendesk’s native functionality is quite limited. If you’re just starting and have an article that isn’t performing as well as you want, start by working on the obvious. Review it again, see what types of tickets are created about that issue, and try to guess what information is missing.

If you improve the content and don’t see results, there’s more you can do.

  • Collect optional feedback after customers give you a negative rating, so you have a more specific idea of what to change.

  • Track how the helpfulness rating changes over time, especially after rewriting an article.

  • Create internal guidelines for your help center based on articles that perform consistently well to try replicating that.

Helpfulness score trend example

Help Center Analytics’ helpfulness score enables you to collect feedback on articles and to track helpfulness over time

Adapt the content based on user flows

How to optimize your content depends on how your customers use it.

This isn’t a native Zendesk feature, so you’d need a third-party app to measure it. User flows are a great way to understand your customers’ behavior, so it’s worth a shot. You can use them to answer questions like:

  • How do your customers arrive at the help center?

  • Which pages do they view the most?

  • Do they navigate to the right content using the categories and sections or predominantly use the search?

  • What do they do after viewing key pages, like an article or your ticket creation page?

  • How many people create a ticket without ever visiting an article?

You can use this information to make (and measure!) impactful changes.

For instance:

  • If customers often arrive at your contact page from Google and submit a ticket without viewing an article, you can suggest articles directly in your contact form.

  • If they navigate through your help center using categories, you can ensure that key articles are prominent on your homepage or category page to reduce the clicks needed to get there.

If you redesign your help center or change up your contact form, user flows can help you see how your customers’ behavior changed in response.

Tinkering with these long enough can have a major impact on ticket deflection.

Take your help center to the next level

Help centers are an extremely cost-effective way to scale support.

They’re available 24/7, can be accessed by thousands of people at a time, and can provide a consistently good customer experience. And analytics is how you transform your help center from good to great.

At SwiftEQ, we’ve built several tools to support you. These include Help Center Analytics — giving you clear insight into performance — and Help Center Manager to help keep your content up to date.

Book a free demo with us today to take your Zendesk help center to the next level!


Nouran Smogluk

​​Written by Nouran Smogluk

Nouran is a passionate people manager who believes that work should be a place where people grow, develop, and thrive. She writes for Supported Content and also blogs about a variety of topics, including remote work, leadership, and creating great customer experiences.


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