Frequently asked questions (FAQs) sound like a harmless annoyance from an outsider’s perspective. Nearly every website has a page dedicated to the most common and mundane asks from curious visitors. But, from the inside of an organization, FAQs are anything but harmless.
FAQs can have a paralyzing impact on internal support functions by creating helpdesk backlogs of unwanted low-value workloads that are being assigned to higher cost channels. This problem can be resolved with a combination of culture-focused strategy and smart technology.
Who is impacted and why?
FAQs affect more than just the users of your products and services—they challenge the teams that are expected to deliver speedy responses to work-related issues. The most common symptom of an FAQ problem is a visible loss of productivity from repeated requests, either in-person or through virtual channels (such as email and messaging) which cause frustration and competing priorities.
The teams that are most commonly impacted by FAQs are internal support teams, spanning Sales Ops, IT Support, and Customer Support. While these teams face an ongoing struggle with FAQs, the problem is exacerbated by periods of rapid scaling such as hiring periods and product expansion.
The reason these teams get the most repeated questions is because of poor planning from an onboarding standpoint as well as a lack of focus on self-serve channels such as a simple knowledge base or wiki.
With this in mind, to prevent FAQs from crippling organization-wide productivity, team leaders need to enact a strategy that promotes a culture that prioritizes self-serve support. This will increase productivity, reduced costs (especially for cost-center departments) and create happier, motivated employees.
What is the cost of FAQ?
Frequently asked questions can impose high costs to your organization. Those costs can be direct, such as in resolution-time for support tickets, but they can also be indirect and have productivity and cultural costs as well.
According to a study, 51% of employees avoid sharing documents because they can’t find them or it would take too long to do so. It is clear that access to knowledge can be such a frustrating and confusing process that many employees lose motivation and simply give up by passing work that they could likely have completed onto someone else because they are at a loss for the correct path to resolution.
The most obvious solution to this issue is to invest in a more rigorous onboarding process for new employees, and to promote a documentation-first culture. When employees know that the first answer to every issue is to attempt to self-serve support before interrupting another team member’s productivity, you can be certain that issues are deflected at the earliest possible stage. This requires a dedicated investment of time and financial resources to build self-serve support channels, such as a knowledge base.
To take this one step further, your strategy should consider the workflows of support seekers and put access to that knowledge source directly inside or adjacent to the places where people communicate and collaborate, such as Slack or in the browser (via extension of course, to improve focus, with one less browser tab open).
All things considered, FAQs have a compounding effect on costs. Not only do they impact the overall profitability of an organization by overspending on internal cost centers, but they tend to demotivate and create less productive employees.
Is AI-powered technology right for your FAQ problem?
A repeated question is nearly the perfect application for a smart technology that implements artificial intelligence. Since many of these questions occur in conversational environments, such as Slack, they are perfectly positioned for a smart tool that can identify a repeated pattern like FAQs.
Slack’s true superpower is in its extensibility. Chatbots can be injected into Slack, with little effort or cost, and they are the perfect mechanism to introduce an intelligent layer into a conversational tool. Once adequately trained or integrated with knowledge and historical support data, they can interact with support seekers to suggest solutions to common problems. Common chatbot’s implementation of AI can be rudimentary or advanced, by applying Natural Language Processing (NLP). Consider some of these examples:
- Disco – a simple NLP bot that tracks words of praise in Slack conversations to track high performance
- Answer Bot – Zendesk’s NLP bot that suggests resources to support agents for newly opened tickets
- Obie – Intelligent NLP that provides knowledge when sensing questions in Slack conversations
AI-powered chatbots are a very low-effort strategy to accelerate support teams with very limited investment and minimal training. Moreover, they dovetail nicely in the places where conversations happen, and repeated questions are asked.
There is a solution to your FAQ problem
At a first glance, FAQs seem like a simple problem to solve. But an effective solution is one that considers both a cultural approach to documentation and knowledge and marrying that to intelligent technology that expedites the plan in channels where communication and collaboration occur.