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If you want quick knowledge, find out for yourself. Don’t get us wrong – this isn’t a jab at formal training or education. But, in the world of customer service, it’s a safe bet this is how many of your customers feel.
In fact, when they have a question, 66 percent of customers try self-service first before deciding to contact customer support. This number is higher (89 percent) among millennials, the largest generation right now. After all, 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 knowledge base: because a good part of positive customer experience depends on it.
A basic knowledge base definition is “an online library where information about a topic is collected, organized, and easily accessed.” It’s designed to provide quick answers when you need them.
Knowledge bases can include documents, guides, FAQs, and more. An example related to customer service is the “Support” or “Help” pages that most companies have.
These pages are static, but knowledge bases don’t always have to be. Often, you can use them to interact with users (e.g. via connected AI-based chatbots) to understand queries and produce answers without human intervention.
Knowledge bases can be used both internally (a way for employees to find quick answers to help them on their job) and externally (for customers). When it comes to customer service, think of your knowledge base as a digital customer support agent. It’s the very first level of service your customers will go through.
Your knowledge base should be:
So, when you start building a knowledge base, keep these characteristics in mind – it’s the only way to ensure your customers will get the most out of the useful information you provide.
Here’s a 7-step guide with knowledge base examples to help you kickstart your own project:
What is your knowledge base about? 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:
In the end, your knowledge base will be what you want it to be – or rather, what your customers would find the most useful. Whatever the purpose, be sure to define your knowledge base to customers, too, so they’ll know what to expect right off the bat.
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 questions do they get most frequently when talking to customers 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. If your colleagues have additional data, make use of it, too. For example, the engineering department might be able to run tests to see where customers face obstacles when using the product.
This is a process you can repeat to constantly enrich your knowledge base. 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 knowledge base search bar, you need to provide answers.
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.
This step will make or break your knowledge base. Good writing is essential to convey your message and engage readers. Otherwise, customers might get tired of blunt, uninformative language and churn.
So, in order to write effective articles, you could follow certain rules:
There are a number of things to consider:
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”).
Also, consider how you’ll “distribute” the knowledge in your knowledge base. For example, with an effective customer support software, you can integrate your knowledge base to live chat. Customers will be able to browse through your articles via the widget that appears on any page they’re on. This is how they can get easy access to information. And, if your knowledge base doesn’t cover them, they can immediately reach out to a live agent from the same widget.
After all the work you’ve put into the knowledge base, you hope everything will work. Well, 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 from your software. Also, as we already mentioned in step 2, Google Analytics provides information on user behavior throughout the site.
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.
As the last step suggests, it’s best not to approach your knowledge base with a “set up and forget” mindset. Granted, your knowledge base is there to provide answers without straining your team. But, even that needs effort to maintain quality and user-friendliness.
So, around the milestones when you check data, 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.