Looking to create a knowledge base and provide 24/7, automated, self-service support for your customers? Well, this post is going to show you how to do just that… in 7 super simple steps.
Customers know that reaching out to a live agent means spending a big chunk of time waiting for a response or explaining their issue. In some cases, they’ll be transferred over and over or told to call back.
That’s the main reason you need to create a good knowledge base: because a large part of positive customer experience depends on it.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a knowledge base with examples to help you kickstart your own project:
How to create a knowledge base
- Determine knowledge base purpose
- Consult with the experts
- Develop a structure
- Write and edit
- Set up the tech side
- Gather feedback
- Update regularly
1. Determine knowledge base purpose
The first thing you’ll want to do is work out what your knowledge base is all about. In other words, what your knowledge base content will be.
Is it meant to provide information on your product and services for new customers? Is it a support resource for existing customers? Both of those and more?
Determine the purpose of your knowledge base and list some high level goals you want it to achieve.
For example, your knowledge base may need to:
- Provide product support for basic issues and common questions
- Explain product features and use cases
- Show users how to get the most out of products or services
- Offer information on pricing plans and discounts
- Provide step-by-step guides on service setup, troubleshooting, etc.
- Give out information on the company and its activities
Whatever the purpose, be sure to define your knowledge base to customers, too, so they’ll know what to expect right off the bat.
2. Consult with the experts
Even if you're a jack-of-all-trades, it’s unlikely you’ll know how to address every customer query. This is why a collaborative effort across the company (no matter the size) is needed to ensure a comprehensive and accurate knowledge base.
So, it might be useful to set up meetings with people in different customer-facing roles (e.g. customer support, customer success, sales). Ask them what issues keep coming up. Which customer questions do they see most frequently in sales or customer support calls? And ask for their opinion, too – for example, software engineers who’ve built the product might tell you that some particular functions need to be explained.
To find these answers, data is also your friend. Look into your CRM or other system and scour analytics about interactions with customers. Focus on the most basic issues, the ones that can usually be resolved on the first call – these are the ones suitable for self-service.
This is a process you can repeat to constantly enrich your help center. Use Google Analytics to discover what people are searching for in your site and write articles about the missing terms. If lots of customers are looking for “Why is my credit card rejected” in your search bar, you need to provide answers.
3. Develop a structure
With the information at hand from colleagues and your own experience, you’re well-positioned to structure your knowledge base. This depends on your own categorization of information.
Typically, you’ll want to create different articles for each significant product feature or service and group them accordingly. Also, different actions in the customer journey might require separate articles (e.g. set up an account, proceed to checkout, integrate with other software). Determine the higher level categories first and then break them down into subcategories.
It’s a good idea to identify your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This is a great way for customers to find information fast. List questions ranging from the most basic to more complex.
This is also where design comes into play. The categories shouldn’t just make sense for you, they should make sense for the customer. For example, you may feel that a category about “G Suite integrations” is useful. However, customers might actually tend to search for “Gmail” or “sending an email” and expect to find articles dedicated to this. Use your knowledge about customers to design a structure that will be the most useful for them. For this step, it pays to work closely with a designer.
4. Write and edit
This step will make or break your knowledge base. Writing knowledge base articles in a way that conveys your message and engages readers is absolutely essential. Otherwise, customers might get tired of blunt, uninformative language and churn.
So, in order to write effective knowledge base articles, you could follow certain rules:
- Opt for informative titles. Your title should accurately describe what the article is about. It might be easy to choose one when the topic is straightforward (e.g. “How to see your cart”) but might be less obvious for more complex topics. For example, whether you choose “How our API works” instead of “How to integrate your existing software” depends on what you know about your customers and their queries.
- Be clear and concise. Clear writing means clear thinking. If you’ve truly understood the topic at hand, then you can be clearer when writing about it. So, before you start writing, ask yourself “What do I want to say?” Also, consider your audience. For example, if you want to write a technical article for non-technical people, make sure you briefly explain every technical term you refer to.
- Avoid jargon. Your goal should be that everyone who lands on a page can understand what you’re saying – even if they’ve never heard of the topic before. Some jargon may be commonly used (e.g. “customer experience”) but you might want to steer clear of others unless you explain them (e.g. “CX”).
- Show, don’t tell. Ever found yourself looking for a button that a support article says should be there but isn’t? To avoid confusion, add visuals inside your text. This could be a simple screenshot with arrows pointing to specific areas (screen capture tools like Lightshot can help). And, you could include videos for step-by-step tutorials. Screen recording software like Loom can help when resources don’t allow for full-blown instructional videos.
- Speak to your reader. Active voice is more engaging than passive voice. Instead of “The password needs to be set” say “You need to set a password.” Talk to your reader as you’d talk to a customer on the phone. To go a level deeper, think about what you know about your customers and what they might be interested in. For example, if you know that most people have trouble finding an available username to register, consider providing a few methods to build alternative usernames.
- Proofread relentlessly. Few things are more off-putting in a written text than typos and grammar mistakes. To avoid those, try to read your text out loud. Read each word separately instead of allowing your eye to gloss over sentences and automatically correct the mistakes it sees (ah, the human brain and its wonders). It helps to ask a professional writer or editor to take a final look.
5. Set up the tech side
There are a number of things to consider:
- Where will the knowledge base “live” on the site?
- How will it be linked to from other pages?
- What icons will we need for each category?
- Who will be responsible for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
Most of these questions will have been answered if you’ve worked with designers since the beginning of the process. If anything remains in terms of design, be sure to bring it up before the landing pages are finalized.
For SEO, use tools like Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs to find search terms that match the topic of your articles (e.g. “how to create a knowledge base”) to help improve your visibility in search engines.
Also, consider how you’ll “distribute” the articles in your knowledge base. For example, with an effective customer support software, you can integrate your help docs into live chat software and chatbot interactions. Customers will be able to browse through your articles via the widget that appears on any page they’re on, providing easy access to information and boosting customer service. And, if your knowledge base doesn’t cover them, they can immediately reach out to a live agent from the same widget.
Want to learn more about providing great customer support? Check out our ultimate guide: https://whitepaper.acquire.io/the-ultimate-guide-to-customer-support
6. Gather feedback
After all the work you’ve put into creating a knowledge base, you’ll hope everything works perfectly — which is understandable. But the reality is, sometimes things happen. Some articles may not turn out as well as others, the page structure might confuse some customers, and so on.
So, in order to improve your knowledge base, make sure you gather feedback. Analytics can help: your CRM or support platform can give you insight into which articles are the most helpful. You can do that by implementing customer feedback options in your knowledge base tool.
Want to learn more about tools to boost customer experience? Watch our on demand webinar: https://acquire.io/webinars-events/cx-tools/
Set up milestones periodically where you’ll collect all data. Involve your team to brainstorm fixes faster. Apply them and repeat. But the most important thing to remember is to act on feedback you receive; reports show that “79 percent of consumers who shared complaints about poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored.” And that means you risk losing customers to your competitors. Avoid that mistake and beat your competition to the punch.
7. Update regularly
Your knowledge base is there to provide answers without straining your team. But, even that needs effort to maintain quality and user-friendliness.
Be sure to check about any unannounced changes that happened. Maybe the screenshots you’ve used need to be updated, or a feature you’re describing was discontinued.
Needless to say, when big changes happen (e.g. new pricing plans or new product launch), you need to act as fast as possible to bring your knowledge base up-to-date.
And the ultimate benefit? Customers will love it. Ninety-one percent of them are already sold on self-service via a knowledge base as long as it meets their needs. This is a big opportunity to provide excellent service to the vast majority of your customers and build loyalty to your brand.
Create a knowledge base...check!
So that was seven steps to create a knowledge base from scratch. We hope this gave you everything you need to get started on providing self-service support to your customers.
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What did you think? Are you going to create a knowledge base for yourself or use a prebuilt software? Let us know in the comments.