Last week we spoke with Sarah Miller, Sr. Knowledge Manager at Oyster HR. Sarah shares her experience on which factors to use when prioritizing article topics, as well as collaborating with SMEs to produce accurate and helpful content.
Oyster HR is a software used by organizations to expand teams across borders as well as manage hiring processes, pay and care. Since 2019, the company has been working towards its mission of making work opportunities equal around the globe.
It was a pleasure chatting with Sarah, and we hope that others benefit from her valuable insights and experiences.
Can you tell us a few words about yourself and your current role?
My name is Sarah Miller, I lead the Knowledge Team (which is part of the Product Team) at Oyster HR, a global employment platform that supports globally distributed teams. The Knowledge Management team is responsible for designing and managing the knowledge strategy and running the knowledge tools.
Our core knowledge product is the help center, a classic support resource that focuses on our product, platform and service knowledge. We are also building out a set of comprehensive country employment guides that cover a broad range of topics to help hire, onboard, pay, manage and offboard individuals.
How many help centers do you manage, and how many articles in total?
This is evolving and will likely change over the current year :)
As of last quarter, we had two help centers:
Support Help Center: 200-300 articles
Country Guides: 2 ‘languages’ of 20 articles. We were using the language capability to organize the content for different countries, all in English and started with just two countries.
This quarter we changed the architecture to leverage the search across help centers feature to have more control over searching for country information.
For background, the country guides will have the same sections and article names across countries (with some small variation based on localization) so if we had all the content in the same brand, searching for "time off" would return way too many results and the out of the box filtering functionality in Zendesk isn’t great.
By the end of the calendar year we are planning to have:
1 Support Help Center: 300 articles
8 Country Guides Help Centers: 450 articles in total (but working towards 100 articles per country guide for a total of 800 articles)
How do you measure the success of your help center as a whole, and of individual articles?
Since we are a start-up and the Knowledge Management program is only one year old, we aren’t very mature in measurements yet.
We are just starting to track the self service ratio but it’s very difficult to measure since we don’t require sign-in to access the help center and it is hard to discern between internal, and external users along with the noise from google results and competitors looking at our content. It’s also worth knowing that we only support customers via email. When our contact channels evolve, some of the measurements will change.
But here are things that we’d like to measure:
For individual articles:
Peer review scorecards: We will implement a peer review of rating content on things outlined in KCS methodology like accuracy, clarity, formatting & relevance.
Links in tickets: How often an article is linked to a ticket. And if we could take it a step further, is the ticket resolved after sharing the linked article.
Overall engagement (aka usage)
Bounce rate plus time spent on page: should be a high bounce rate with at least 20 seconds on the page to flag that the user has engaged with the content and got their answer
For the whole Help Center
Overall engagements (aka usage)
Internal survey to rate how useful the resource is
When search click-through rate is between 1-2 clicks (assumes that the user was able to find what they were looking for with minimal effort)
How often ‘no results’ are returned by each search
In a fast-paced environment, it is easy for help documentation to become outdated. What processes do you use to keep the content up to date?
We’ve defined content owners for all of the articles and they have signed off on being responsible to review article content and answer article content questions. Note that some articles may require more than one “owner” but we are just defining one for now.
We haven’t had a chance yet to set up proactive scheduled audits yet but this is coming next year. All articles will have a defined cadence (ranging between 1- 12 months) for a proactive review for accuracy and relevancy
We also set quick SLAs for users flagging out-of-date content (a reactive mechanism). We put in place mechanisms to provide feedback on the content and out of date content is prioritized to the top.
Knowledge about a product or service is often spread across the organization. How do you and your team collaborate with subject matter experts to produce the most helpful and accurate content?
Our team is small but mighty and we aren’t doing much content development. We own the tools and strategy but, based on hiring constraints, the writers are within Customer Experience or Product Marketing and how they work with the organization varies. For the most part, the SMEs provide a lot of the info needed for content either in tickets or via Slack… this isn’t ideal but it is what it is right now.
Also our team has identified SMEs across the organization and assigned them as the article ‘content owner’ outlining a list of their responsibilities. Currently these are primarily Product Managers (for our platform content) or Country HR experts (for our country content). We want to build an organization where the SME will be part of the content workflow to either draft or review content.
Other work we are doing is refreshing existing content or doing copyediting for our country guide content to provide a model of what is ‘good’ content - clear, concise and relevant. And we will add this to our style guide and eventually an authoring program that includes best practices for authoring content. The SME is responsible more for the accuracy of the content.
It happens quite often that customers are contacting Support for questions whose answers they could easily find in an article. How to teach your customers to use the help center instead?
We are just beginning to tackle this.
We’ve shifted from requiring customers to email us to using a contact form, and we have the article suggestion search enabled.
We have multiple entry points in our app that link out to articles or the homepage of the help center. One of these is the Pendo widget in our app.
We are linking articles to tickets in hope that customers will know that the help center exists, they can trust the content and may use it for future questions
If your product or service is complex, there can be many topics you can write about in the help center at any given time. How do you prioritize?
We are ‘green’ on this topic too. Currently, we are trying to get a better understanding of what tickets are informational tickets and what could have been solved by knowledge.
We have a field in our tickets to identify if it’s a service or an informational request. We are trying to use that data to inform what topics should be covered.
Most of the content has been created based on supporting new functionality or changes in the law, but we’d like our prioritization to take into account these attributes:
1. Impact: What is the potential user impact AND the potential frequency. Is it one country, all users, etc. and how often that may impact that user?
2. Urgency/timely: is the content related to supporting a new release, a new employment law? And how long will this content be used for? Is it to announce a new feature that won’t be new after 3 months? Or will it have a long shelf life?
3. Level of effort to create: How quick or long will it take to create this content? That may inform how the content is built out - for example creating text-based content is quicker than both text and multimedia content
4. Legal or sensitive issue: Does this support a sensitive or legal matter? What would happen if we didn’t do it? What is the level of risk?
5. Business goals and initiatives: How does the content align with the overall business initiatives and goals?
If your help center is multilingual, what workflows do you use to manage translation from the core language to other languages?
Not there yet! But, I have years of experience managing translations using Zendesk. We integrated with MemSource (a localization solution) and managed the requests and timelines via Jira. When the content came back, we’d auto-publish it but also assign it to someone to do a quick QA - check that the links worked correctly and review for any glaring mistakes.
Are you using KCS (Knowledge Centered Support) with your Support colleagues?
No. There’s an appetite to leverage some of its methodology but definitely not there. For the country guide help center product, we are thinking that we will shift away from building out full country topics one by one. We will create placeholders for all topics that defined individuals can build out the content for internal use versus creating source documentation in a Google doc and then handover to the KM team to ‘transform it’ to Zendesk Guides.
If you are managing a team: what KPIs do you track and set goals for your knowledge management team?
We are just in the foundational stage and our team is small. So, our goals are very much things like:
Build and refine a style guide
Refresh the top 100 articles using the style guide
Create a content management workflow
Define authors and content owners
Publish the country guide for x countries and x topics
But in the future, it’d be:
SLAs for content management work
Peer review scorecard ratings
Measuring internal ‘agent’ effort for the help center
Measuring external ‘customer’ effort for the help center
Anything else you'd like to share?
Your tool has been AMAZING for exports and copying content. I know there is more functionality that we will be leveraging in the future. Thanks so much!!!
We are also testing a CCMS for our complicated Country Guide help center since the out of the box Team Publishing functionality in Zendesk isn’t great nor are their content blocks. This is similar to how Zendesk’s documentation team runs.