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Article 4 min read

The 3 keys to silo-free, scalable self-service

By Fernanda Chouza, Product marketing manager, Guide

Last updated September 13, 2021

As companies invest in self-service and evolve into knowledge-centered organizations, they encounter a new set of issues: managing knowledge as content is used more widely across the business, in new and different contexts.

Addressing knowledge management complexity is an important part of scaling support. There are major consequences for not doing so for both agents and customers—namely that it results in fragmented knowledge that’s hard to find when you need it, according to a 2018 report on knowledge management from Customer Contact Week Digital.

Siloed knowledge management is one of the culprits behind many self-service faux pas. Having different tools or teams managing content, perhaps with different levels of permission for each, can mean competing sources of truth—different dashboards and solutions across departments and teams—potentially complicating the creation and maintenance of content.

Companies looking to win on self-service take strategic (and silo-free) approach to content production, management, and maintenance, keeping three big-picture concepts in mind:

  • Complexity

  • Simplicity

  • Scalability


Added organizational complexity goes hand in hand with scaling self-service. Maybe you have a robust help center with detailed, all-encompassing content—awesome! But as that same content is more frequently surfaced in active tickets and multiple channels of support, you may want it to be more succinct. Take it from musical instrument marketplace Reverb, which surfaces popular and relevant content from its knowledge base throughout its website experience via AI and custom automations.

Given the wider adoption of self-service across an organization, it’s becoming more important to tailor help content for different audiences, brands, channels, formats, and products, while ensuring it is accessible for both agents and customers. In part, that means enabling teams to get granular with help topics, tailoring them for their intended purpose.

For some businesses, multiple help centers allow for more differentiation between help content that serve unique audiences, products, services, or segments within the company. This was the case for Big Fish Games, whose products and gaming experiences were distinct enough to warrant their own help centers. Even companies that house multiple streams of help content under one help center are increasingly looking for ways to customize and tailor that content.


Experts say the ideal customer experience is one that delivers simplicity on the front end supported by a sophisticated platform on the back end. This is the self-service philosophy at Riot Games, which wanted to preserve the immersive gameplay experience, even as customers needed help mid-game. Their solution was to enable customers to self-serve on help queries without even leaving the game. Dynamic help content from the knowledge base is served up on the back end via the Zendesk API, allowing players keep their game faces on and get help at the same time.

Managing a knowledge base through one unified help center is another way to infuse simplicity and sophistication into your knowledge base. It breaks down silos, for one thing—such as those that crop up between teams and departments, all of of whom may be contributing content as your knowledge management operations mature. And, it allows everyone contributing knowledge visibility, making it that much more likely the content will support a wider range of needs across the business.


Incorporating AI, automations, and customizations over multiple channels of support can amplify the impact of a knowledge base. AI can assist in surfacing content in context, as well as providing important insights about the health of the knowledge base.

But before companies can reap the benefits of AI and automation, a centralized knowledge base is an essential step. Centralized knowledge management—one central knowledge base housing content that is leveraged company-wide—means fewer sources of truth. And having fewer sources of truth fosters more accurate company-wide data about self-service content, allowing teams to make more informed choices about articles to create, update, or remove altogether.

Note that a centralized structure doesn’t mean a homogeneous one. For scaling companies with complex self-service use cases, there are several ways to easily tailor different areas of the same knowledge base to account for growth, such as with simple, customizable themes via API integrations or directly with HTML, CSS, or JavaScript.

The scalable, simple solution is the best solution

A savvy knowledge base solution should always be nimble enough to support highly customizable features on the front end that also come together in an organized, logical back end. Whether your way forward is multiple, branded help centers, one help center to rule them all, or a combination of both, the solution should empower teams to customize help experiences that are better for your customers, as the internal and external benefits are clear.

“Launching a redesign of our application was smoother and our support agents as well as our clients are able to find more content faster,” according to Charles Black, an IT specialist at Schoology, Inc., which manages knowledge with Zendesk Guide Enterprise. “We are able to solicit and collect knowledge across our teams and implement that within our knowledge base more effectively and with better structure.”

By keeping complexity, simplicity, and scalability top of mind as you optimize self-service, your knowledge base becomes a valuable business-wide resource. Customers find what they want because topics are better organized no matter what channel they use to access that information. And support teams enjoy the same time savings and search experience, freeing them to provide value and improvements for customers.

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