In an era where customer experience (CX) is the business benchmark, ensuring that customers get first-rate customer service is crucial to make your business stand out.
Customer experience includes your customer’s entire interaction with your brand. This is why delivering a seamless experience across all touchpoints in the customer journey should be your CX goal.
And a big part of this goal is to ensure your customers are heard.
A Zendesk report shows that 69% of customers would rather solve their own queries, while about 63% first search through a company’s online resources before contacting a live agent.
When customers prefer to self-serve for an instant query resolution, heeding their preference will boost your CX game. And the best way to meet your customer’s self-service expectations is to adopt a robust knowledge base software that can seamlessly power the knowledge needs of multiple support channels.
A knowledge base is a centralized repository of information that acts as a self-service help center for your employees and customers. It contains details about your product, services, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) stored as FAQs, help articles, troubleshooting guides, and anything else your employees and customers may need.
Simply put, it is a central location for all your organization’s internal and external knowledge, systematically organized as a single source of truth that your employees or customers can rely on to find quick answers to their doubts right where they are.
Organizations, big or small, deal with a ton of data daily. From SOPs to reports, documents to troubleshooting guides, all this data qualifies as valuable organizational knowledge.
When data is scattered across multiple storage sources, accessing the correct information at the right time becomes a huge challenge. Data silos result in inconsistent knowledge dissemination that ultimately affects the employee’s performance and quality of customer service.
That’s why a centralized knowledge repository is a ready-reckoner to solve your knowledge management woes. With critical knowledge in easy reach, employees can spend their time on high-priority tasks instead of running around for the necessary information.
Knowledge bases are divided into two broad categories based on their access to knowledge – internal knowledge base for your employees and external knowledge base for your customers.
An internal knowledge base is a platform that serves only the company’s employees. It is also known as a private knowledge base as it contains confidential organizational information like SOPs and business protocols to help employees perform their jobs effectively.
According to a McKinsey report, employees lose close to two hours per day or 9.3 hours per week looking for information!
With an internal knowledge database, employees can simply leverage the search feature to access the information they need instantly. It also increases their autonomy and productivity to perform tasks efficiently.
Some of the information stored in an internal knowledge base include:
An external knowledge base is a platform that aims to share information with customers directly. This is also known as a public knowledge base, as anyone can access it online.
Imagine this scenario:
Your customer has some doubts about your product or service. They land on your website, but you don’t have a knowledge database. They must contact a support agent and wait in long call queues to get basic information. Frustrated and annoyed, your customer leaves.
A customer-facing knowledge base can solve this problem. An overwhelming 91% of customers vouch that they would use a knowledge repository if it could solve their problems!
With a customer facing knowledge base integrated into your self-service portals, customers can access the information they need round-the-clock within seconds. Your customers are happy, and your support staff can direct their energy towards more complex and high-cognitive queries.
Some of the information stored in an external knowledge base include:
Accidents are inevitable. But if accidents mean, you lose all the content you’ve gathered and created for months or years, that means disaster. An enterprise-grade backup is a no-brainer when you are building your knowledge base. So even if you or your employees accidentally hit that delete button, your knowledge can be restored and republished when necessary.
You’ve made great content for your knowledge base. You now need it to reach your customers.
Without a strong search engine, your knowledge will not be discoverable. Irrespective of how helpful it could be, your customers will not dig deep into your content to find answers.
The best knowledge base for customer service delivers results within seconds of a search, even if there are thousands of articles and guides that it has to scroll through. Today’s customers expect instant help, so using a powerful search engine is your best bet.
Additionally, using an intuitive search engine is also crucial to improve CX. If your customers misspell words or include typos, your search engine’s algorithm should be able to pick up these nuances to match your searcher’s intention to deliver accurate results.
If your website pages run and load fast, your knowledge base should be no different.
Ideally, you want your knowledge base to bring as much value to your users as possible. But a cluttered and unorganized structure can make your users feel overwhelmed and confused.
Instead, use a simple and clean design to organize your knowledge base according to different sections and use cases. This will make scanning the content accessible to the eyes, improving the user experience. Try a mix of different content formats, including videos, GIFs, and picture guides, to make your content discoverable on platforms like YouTube and Google.
The average human attention span is 8 seconds – one second less than that of a goldfish!
This means that while your customer’s patience runs out fast, your knowledge base should run faster to deliver efficient support. Most customers will leave if your page is slow or unresponsive, even for a few seconds.
Opt for a fast, high-performance knowledge base to deliver instant, effective resolutions to your customer queries.
There is beauty in simplicity. A good knowledge base system has a simple user interface that allows authors to create new content or edit existing ones for your knowledge database. The text editor should be clutter-free to allow for minimal distraction.
Simple user experience extends to adding images, videos, or links to your content. The entire content authoring process should be simple, with minimal learning curves and easy-to-follow instructions every step of the way.
Tracking your knowledge base metrics or KPIs is a no-brainer to include in your CX strategy. By understanding what your users are looking for, you will gain a deeper insight into their problems across touchpoints.
You can then create knowledge that matches your users’ search intent and deliver valuable information to help solve their doubts better and faster.
Building a knowledge base for your employees and customers will benefit your brand in many ways. Whether you’re just getting started on your knowledge base or are already well on the way, some of the most transformative advantages are listed below:
Imagine this: An employee has questions about some company SOP or doubts about specific guidelines. They ask around for the required information from their colleagues or supervisors.
They eventually get the information they need, but it’s not without a cost. Employees had to divert their attention from their ongoing tasks to help answer their co-worker’s questions.
Research shows that it takes a person 23 minutes to focus after distraction.
With an internal-facing knowledge base for employees, internal teams can simply search for the information they need on the platform with a simple click. This helps boost your employees’ overall operational efficiency and productivity.
Customer support teams often deal with overwhelming pressure in a fast-paced work environment like a contact center. With large volumes of incoming calls, ensuring quality and speedy service topped off with sky-rocketing customer service expectations is very tough.
With an agent-facing knowledge base, your agents can readily access step-by-step guided workflows within a search. They no longer have to dig deep through piles of documents and scripts to know what the next best action is.
This way, agents deliver quality service without hassle, and customers enjoy speedy and accurate query resolution – a win-win situation for both.
Organizations deal with large volumes of data every day. When this data is stored across multiple storage systems, it results in data silos leading to inconsistent knowledge distribution.
An internal knowledge base is a unified source of truth for all organizational knowledge. It makes creating, storing, and managing data easy and consistent.
A knowledge database also eliminates human bias in sharing information and having multiple versions of the truth for any query or procedure, avoiding subsequent confusion.
Employee turnover is inevitable even in the best companies. However, employees take their experience and knowledge with them when they leave, resulting in knowledge loss.
But with an employee-facing knowledge base, employee expertise and experience can be properly and strategically documented for any employee to access contextually.
With an internal documentation system for all SOPs and guidelines, organizational knowledge is retained despite employee exit.
A well-designed knowledge base can reduce training costs by providing a central source of all organizational information to help new employees get up to speed.
Employees can access materials from the knowledge repository to learn about company history, policies, and SOPs without extensive training on the same topics.
A knowledge base management system is also helpful in providing training about new products or software to existing employees. You can create videos, presentations, and other detailed training instructions on how to use the new system. This way, the need for in-person training is significantly reduced to save time and expenses.
With rapidly increasing customer service benchmarks, customers expect instant help and demand it.
Asking your agents to provide 24/7 help is impossible. They need sleep and rest; otherwise, they will inevitably burn out.
Lucky for you, self-service platforms and chatbots do not need rest to serve your customers all day. Customers can access your external knowledge base integrated into your customer self-service portals and bots to receive instant support.
Additionally, AI chatbots work similarly to offline sales associates at a store. They help you find your need and suggest a prompt resolution to your problem. They can even connect you to a human agent in case of complex issues.
With time, chatbots are only evolving to replicate human-like interactions, give personalized recommendations, and provide service irrespective of official office hours to serve your customers better.
Nobody likes waiting in long call queues, especially when we need urgent customer support.
By integrating your knowledge base into your self-service portals, your customers can now help themselves.
A solid call center knowledge base software reduces the number of calls and tickets your support team has to deal with. As customers with simpler queries avail help through self-service, support staff can spend their valuable time on more critical and urgent tasks.
Additionally, whether you are a startup or a large corporation, making smart financial decisions will always be in your business interest. Although customer experience is a high priority, an external knowledge base for customer experience can help with cost savings.
To deliver superior customer experiences, consistency is key to success. One of the most common customer frustrations is inconsistent service across assisted support channels.
For instance, a customer faces an issue with a product they purchased from you and needs help. However, your chatbot and FAQ provide contradictory information. This is a recipe for customer experience disaster.
To avoid such a situation, integrating your support channels with a customer support knowledge base will help distribute consistent information about specific topics.
A knowledge base will help you create and organize relevant knowledge base articles and add tags, labels, and all the necessary information to answer top customer queries and satisfy them.
SEO is like a race – everyone wants the number one spot. However, getting there takes time, unlike a quick sprint.
Help articles, FAQs, and troubleshooting guides on your support knowledge base can show up on search results and hence help you rank higher, provided your content quality is top-notch and users engage with it.
According to Salesforce, 89% of millennials use a search engine to find answers to their service or product questions before contacting a call center support agent. This is a great “chance” for them to stumble across your help center content for self-service.
Ultimately, with a well-researched and adequately structured knowledge repository for support agents, you can support your existing customer base and acquire new ones along the way.
Creating a knowledge base doesn’t always have to be complicated. Just follow this step-by-step guide, and you’ll be ready to start.
Before you create a knowledge base, determining its purpose is a foundational and integral step.
Think about the audience you’re building an information database for. Is it for your employees, your customers, or perhaps both? Once you’ve identified your target audience, research and analyze the current knowledge gaps.
Ask questions like:
Answers to these questions will help you identify significant pain points due to knowledge gaps and create a targeted strategy accordingly.
The core elements of your knowledge base will depend on the platform you choose to build your knowledge database. Depending on the platform, predefined elements will help you get started.
On the other hand, if you are building your own information base, some key elements for user-friendly self-service are:
Creating a knowledge base is to store and organize knowledge effectively. However, if your knowledge base is ill-structured or cluttered, users cannot access the information they need on time, thus defeating its whole purpose.
To ensure that knowledge is easily accessible, designing your knowledge database structure from the beginning will help you stay on top of your knowledge management game.
Here are some pointers on how to organize your knowledge database:
The ease at which your knowledge is discoverable and accessible is critical. One best practice is to link your most popular and high-engagement content on your website’s help center. Customizing information architecture according to your customer’s preferences will boost content discoverability rates.
Depending on your target audience, segmenting your knowledge base by the user or customer type is effective. For example, an internal knowledge database could include tags and segments for departments like HR, marketing, sales, etc.
Grouping knowledge based on product type will help keep your knowledge repository clean and organized. For instance, an electronics company can section its information base under mobile devices, desktop devices, accessories, etc.
Best for customer self-service, organizing your knowledge database for different user stages is efficient. For example, the different stages may be organized as getting started, upgrading services, etc.
Once you’ve designed the structure of your information base, you can start creating content for it. Knowledge management software like Knowmax uses an AI data migration engine to quickly and efficiently migrate your existing knowledge base to Knowmax.
AI significantly reduces the human effort involved in the content migration process and saves considerable costs by reducing the time and number of manpower days needed for successful process undertaking.
One of the best ways to start creating knowledge base content is to check your support queue for the most frequently asked customer queries. Since agents deal with customers directly, taking their input on topics to cover is a sure-shot method to create helpful content.
Additionally, writing a knowledge base article isn’t like writing a blog or an opinion piece. It should be concise, to the point, and easy to scan. Some essential tips include:
Making your information base accessible to existing customers is great, but making it discoverable to new searchers is the cherry on top.
Your customer-facing knowledge base content could appear in search results if search engines index it. This means that your knowledge database can help you gain new potential customers but only if you create first-rate, highly engaging content for it.
Finally, the ultimate step is to publish your knowledge base and share it with your users – employees, customers, or both.
But that’s not it. Managing your knowledge repository to create up-to-date knowledge on new features and add-ons is essential to ensure its relevance. Creating a knowledge base is a one-time process, but maintaining it is not – it is an ongoing, dynamic process.
Pro tip: If you want to ensure that your knowledge database serves its purpose, taking user feedback and analyzing user engagement will help you optimize it to suit your users best.
Now that your knowledge base is created let us look at some of the best practices to maximize its potential.
Updating content on your knowledge base should be a regular activity. Remember to create new content with every product feature update or new launch.
Existing knowledge can also be revisited for content edits as required. Analytics showing customer search queries will help you perform a content gap analysis to ensure that you are serving what the customers are asking for.
Just like you like your food in bite-size, easy-to-consume portions, ensure your knowledge base content is in easily digestible chunks.
For example, break down complex problems into step-wise, guided actions to make knowledge easy to scan and consume. Including pictures, GIFs, and videos to make content more engaging and simpler to understand.
Some key pointers to keep in mind are:
Consistency in the knowledge you provide will translate into how much trust your customers have in you. Simply put, consistency and customer satisfaction are entirely interdependent.
Imagine this: You buy a phone, and it breaks down. You want an immediate fix and reach out to customer support. The sales agent tells you that you can get a full refund or replacement, but the company website deems you only eligible for a replacement.
Frustrated with this contraction, you never buy from the same brand again.
This is only one example of a catastrophic case of inconsistent knowledge dissemination. Ensuring that information on both internal and external knowledge bases is up to date will save you from disastrous customer service scenarios.
Don’t hesitate to show that you don’t have it all figured out. Research how to build and optimize your knowledge base to suit your business best. Look into what other companies have done to create their knowledge bases, and you can incorporate what you learn into your own website.
Frequently asked questions are an integral part of a knowledge base as they answer the most common questions users have at any stage in their journey. They are written in a question-and-answer format, in which the answers written are crisp and direct.
Tip: Look for regular, easy-to-resolve tickets to create as FAQs for your knowledge base.
Visual how-to guides are stepwise guides that break down complex workflows into simple, easy-to-understand steps. They include engaging graphics to help users visualize their steps for quick and effective problem resolution. Since about 65% of humans are visual learners, visual guides encapsulate giant workflows into bite-sized, pictorial representations to make even tough tasks easier.
Like how-to articles, troubleshooting guides help users solve issues with your product or service. However, troubleshooting guides provide solutions to more complex and intricate problems rather than educating the user on how to get the best use out of your product.
Troubleshooting guides are extremely helpful when your support team is off the clock and your customers need instant assistance. Agents can also share troubleshooting guides with customers via email or chat to resolve complex issues.
How-to articles often explain processes about your products or services in simple, stepwise resolutions.
For example, a customer wants to set up a new laptop. However, they feel overwhelmed with the new technology and need help getting started. A simple step-by-step knowledge base article can help them set up their device successfully.
A great tip is also to include visuals in your help article. This way, your customer knows exactly what they need to reach from the problem to the solution stage.
Product and service descriptions are often created to answer the “what” your customers may have about your company and the products or services you offer.
For instance, you want to upgrade to a premium subscription on your favorite OTT (over-the-top) platform. But you want to know the details before committing to the purchase. The service descriptions will entail a detailed description of a premium subscription and other benefits you can enjoy.
Knowmax is an AI-driven knowledge management system built by CX experts to help you deliver top-grade customer service. It serves as a single source of truth to help you create, collate, and disseminate contextual knowledge effectively.
Using a customer-focused approach, Knowmax makes knowledge storing and sharing efficient to help empower users with the knowledge they need at the right time.
With its no-code DIY content creation functionalities, anyone with little to no technical expertise can get started on the platform. It also allows integrations with major CRMs and other contact center software to make relevant information as easily accessible as possible for your support team.
Zendesk offers a knowledge management platform that is simple and easy to use with customizable branding. You can use it according to your enterprise needs as an internal knowledge base, a support-agent-only knowledge base, or a customer-centered FAQ solution.
You can use its in-built analytics to get user reports to create a content gap analysis on your content performance.
Hubspot’s knowledge base software is a knowledge management tool included in the Hubspot Service Hub. With an easily accessible search bar and plenty of pictures to help get you started, Hubspot’s knowledge base is a friendly tool for creating engaging help articles and guides.
HelpJuice is a cloud-based knowledge management system that helps users build a knowledge base instantly without heavy-duty training. With its Google-like search, HelpJuice can help you create a dynamic knowledge base that suits your user’s ever-evolving queries.
The slab is a knowledge base software that makes content creation and distribution easy across your organization. Its unified search capability can deliver search results from your integrated in-house tools in one place.
Now that you know exactly how to get started with your knowledge base, nothing is holding you back from delivering great customer service and boosting a knowledge-sharing culture in your organization.
Before creating content for your knowledge base, research and analyze customer searches, commonly asked questions and regular customer pain points. With thorough research and proper planning, you can create a bullet-proof knowledge base that fulfills all your employee and customer needs.