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Turning your Confluence workspace into a robust self-service support tool

Confluence is a popular choice for many teams that are looking for a tool to centralize organizational documentation. Popularized by technical teams, Confluence is now finding a home in more teams including customer support and HR/People-ops.

What is internal self-serve support?

Internal self-serve support is when when employees can solve problems themselves without shoulder-tapping (virtually or in-person) other team members, thereby distracting them from their workflow. The first line of defense for most internal self-serve applications is a central knowledge base. In many cases, the technology that powers that knowledge base is Confluence.

Why self-serve support?

Self-serve support is desirable for a number of reasons. Consider the following benefits:

  • Ticket Deflection – reduce the volume of tickets being created to make the cost of operating the service desk lower
  • Increase the quality of tickets that do get pushed through to the service desk
  • Eliminate tickets that would otherwise be automatic approvals or could be independently resolved

All signs point to establishing a knowledge base as the primary self-serve support tool.

A word of caution: This choice requires commitment and a deliberate intention to prioritize documentation in the culture of the organization. Without this commitment, most knowledge management initiatives will struggle or fail.

Employees must be socialized that the knowledge base is the first place employees look before asking anyone else for answers on any matter, and in the event of knowledge gaps, communicate them to the champions and/or subject matter experts.

Important considerations before starting building a KB with Confluence

While Confluence is popular, it can have some drawbacks. We addressed those in a recent post on the pros and cons of Confluence. In the planning period, you should ensure that the tool you chooses addresses the common challenges in the knowledge management space. Those challenges are:

  • Universal search
  • Optimizing knowledge format for the content
  • Integrations or compatibility with existing tools
  • Content verification
  • Scalability
  • Accessibility
  • Robust editor
  • Reporting and Analytics
  • Security

Start building your self-serve support knowledge base with Confluence

Do some research

Before you start compiling knowledge you’ll need to plan for the content you will document. Things to consider are:

  • Where does knowledge exist already? Is it being used? If yes, how? If not, why?
  • What are frequently asked questions by employees, customers, vendors and partners
  • Where might knowledge gaps exist?
  • What are the most common places where questions are asked?
  • Who are the subject matter experts?
  • Who will be the champions of the documentation process?

The idea is to fully audit your entire documentation process so that the investment you make into building a new knowledge silo in Confluence will be valued, accurate, verified and ultimately, becomes the first point of support.

Create templates

Develop templates for all types of documentation. This improves structure, increases readability, and sets a standard for documentation quality (although, in some cases, poor documentation is a little better than none at all). Consider these common templates:

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
  • Product documentation
  • On-boarding flows
  • Qualification criteria
  • Call notes template
  • Internal policy
  • Goal tracking framework

Verify content through feedback

Solicit feedback through simple feedback channels to improve the quality of your documentation. Confluence uses a couple of simple feedback loops to help identify high quality content:

  • Likes
  • “Was this helpful? Yes/No”

There are also a few suggested plugins found in the Atlassian Marketplace that expand the feedback loop through surveys.

Use the feedback to update documentation to keep it accurate, relevant and verified. Also, consider applying weights to

Make it universally searchable

What good is knowledge if it is not easy to find and access. Arguably the feature that makes a self-serve support the most successful is robust search functionality. Fortunately, Confluence has two main search options available to users. First, and most commonly, through the ubiquitous search bar, and second, through programmatic means, using Confluence Query Language (CQL). We’ve written another article diving deeper into how to search better in Confluence.

With these considerations carefully planned, Confluence can be a great tool for building a very robust self-serve support knowledge base.