Zendesk Guide—an introduction for admins

Written by
Jude Kriwald
Zendesk Consultant
September 5, 2023
min read

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Guide is Zendesk’s fully customisable help centre (sometimes known as a knowledge base or FAQs). With Guide, you can create articles to help your customers (and agents!) find the answers without needing to contact your support team (or ask a manager). This ability to allow customers to solve their queries on their own, without the need for a costly agent intervention, is what makes it so important to make the most of your Zendesk Guide.

More than this, Guide can also help your agents insert pre-written instructions into ticket responses, as well as allow Zendesk’s Answer Bot to automatically respond to customer queries with relevant information, potentially saving time for your customers and agents alike.


Most Zendesk packages that include Support will also include Guide, meaning it’s likely waiting for you as you read this. However, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. That’s why I’m going to break down Guide’s key areas and uses in this simple guide. By the end of the article, you’ll have a firm understanding on how you can use Guide to improve your organisation’s customer and agent experience.

Many companies spend huge amounts of time collecting and standardising knowledge to build hundreds of articles in their Guide. With this in mind, it’s pertinent that we make good use of this wealth of knowledge, and not simply hope that customers will find the knowledge themselves. Instead, I will also show you three key ways you can ensure that pre-written knowledge gets to the right people at the right time.

It’s worth noting that Guide used to simply be referred to as a knowledge base or help centre. Indeed, when you access Guide, you do so by visiting YOURDOMAIN.Zendesk.com/hc (“hc” for help centre). So you might see “Guide” and “help centre” used interchangeably. Guide is simply Zendesk’s branded name for their help centre tool.

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Articles are the core building block of your help centre. An article can contain text, rich formatting, images, videos, links and more. You can write, edit and save guides much like you would an email or Google Doc. The idea is fairly simple; allow customers to find well-written and clear answers to their questions. This saves them time, as well as your agents.

Guide offers users a thorough set of options to control who can see and edit individual articles, as well as giving us a review process that allows those with knowledge to write articles, whilst giving managers/editors the final say on what gets published.

Each article in Guide must be categorised within a Section. Furthermore, each Section will belong in a Category. We’ll come onto Sections and Categories next.

Below is an example article from Zendesk’s very own help centre. Above the article title, notice that we can see the help centre name (Zendesk help), this article’s category (Agent guide) and finally its section (Ticket basics).


Categories are the highest order of classification that a Guide article can have. When you first visit a help centre, you’ll most likely be presented with the various categories to choose from.

In the image below, the tiles displayed in the bottom half of the screen are categories. Each category will contain sections, which will subsequently contain articles relevant to that section.


In the image above, let’s go ahead and click on the category “Reporting and analytics”. That will take us to the page below. This is the category page for Reporting and analytics and within it we can see the various sections, as well as the articles that belong to each section.

We can see that there are sections called Getting started, Basics, Setting up and Billing. Hosted within each section are its articles.

This is the basic organisational structure which every Zendesk article follows: category, section, title.

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As I mentioned, Zendesk Guide is extremely customisable. Take a look at these examples from different companies to see just how far Guide allows admins to go, in terms of ensuring their help centre is on brand. Nokia WiFi help centre, Ledger’s help centre and CareGuide’s help centre.

The good news is that, unlike building a website from scratch, it’s OK if you don’t have the appetite or skills to create a fully on brand help centre from the off. You can make an excellent, functional help centre using Guide just by creating helpful articles and assigning them to your relevant Categories and Sections. Zendesk will do the rest of the work for you.

If you do want to dabble with getting your Guide a bit more on-brand without doing a full redesign, Zendesk offers some excellent and simple customisation features, such as uploading your organisation’s logo, and changing the theme colours. We’ll cover exactly how to do this in another article.

Finally, if you want or need your help centre to be so on-brand that even the most savvy users won’t realise they’re on a page separate to your main website, that is possible too.

First of all, it’s possible to set up your main website so that Guide appears to just another page on your site, such as YOURWEBSITE.com/FAQs, instead of the default YOURDOMAIN.Zendesk.com/hc.

Furthermore, you can utilise free or paid-for templates that will dramatically change your Guide’s style and layout in a matter of clicks. You can also go one step further and hire a Zendesk consultant or web developer to create you a fully bespoke Guide design.

Answer Bot - Using Guide knowledge to automatically answer tickets

An often unexpected benefit of setting up Guide is that it can also help you solve queries that customers have emailed in without ever needing an agent to step in. Answer Bot is a clever but simple tool from Zendesk. If switched on, it will scan new tickets from customers for keywords. If it believes that your customer’s query is related to an article that you have posted on your Guide, the auto-response that the customer receives will include a link to that article.

In addition, it will ask the customer if the article has helped solve their query. If it has, Answer Bot has just provided the customer with an instant answer, plus it has saved your team from having to spend any time on that query, freeing up their time for the more complex tickets. Answer Bot will then automatically solve the ticket.

If the customer indicates that the Guide article that was recommended was not helpful, the ticket will remain in your agents’ views to be answered just as it normally would. This setup means that the customer can receive an instant, automated resolution, without adding a potential delay in the case that it can’t help (unlike chatbots, which can frustrate customers who feel they are wasting time when they’d rather talk to a human).

Knowledge - Using Guide knowledge to manually answer tickets

If, for whatever reason, you prefer not to use Answer Bot to help solve queries before your agents get to them, there is a brilliant middle-ground alternative.

We all know that, at scale, customer queries can often be repetitive as they are likely to come across the same issues. That’s why we created our Guide, to try and allow customers to solve their most common queries themselves. Even if a customer skips the Guide and requires a human response, we can still use the Guide articles to save agents a wealth of time.

When viewing a ticket, on the right of the screen is the Apps sidebar (you may need to click “Apps” to see it). Click on the book icon, and you’ll see Zendesk perform a minor miracle.

As per the image below, and similar to Answer Bot, Zendesk will scan the customer query and display relevant Guide articles to your agents.

Your agents can then click on the relevant article. This will display the article content in the sidebar, without the agent ever having to leave the ticket page they’re on.

This works great both for customer-facing articles, in which case the agent can copy the text into their ticket response. But it also works excellently for internal articles (which should only be visible to logged-in agents), as it gives managers a space to remind agents of SOPs, protocols and reasoning for the problem at hand. It’s like having an on-call expert ready to assist your agents with the exact challenge they are facing, and it’s only ever two clicks away from the default ticket user interface.

Written by
Jude Kriwald

Jude Kriwald first learned to administer Zendesk in 2015 and has been helping businesses improve their customer operations as a freelance consultant since 2018. Offline, he can be found making maps, paragliding or exploring remote places.

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