Think about the last time you faced an issue with a product you own.
Before you tried reaching out to support, you hopped online to try and find a solution on your own, right?
Your customers are no different.
In today’s world, customers want resolutions to their problems without having to talk to a support agent. This is what makes a knowledge base such a popular self-serve support channel!
However, creating one from scratch can be intimidating, which is probably a big reason why only a third of companies have a knowledge base.
We wouldn’t want you to be on the wrong side of that statistic. So in this article, we’ll take you through the five steps you need to follow to create and maintain your very own knowledge base, look at what a knowledge base is and the impact it can have on your business.
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Why is a knowledge base important?
What is a knowledge base?
A knowledge base is a collection of documentation that makes it easy for your customer to find solutions to problems independently.
A typical knowledge base would include:
- answers to frequently asked questions
- a glossary and/or a definition list
- troubleshooting instructions
- how-to guides
- video demos
Why is a knowledge base important?
Creating a knowledge base comes with a ton of benefits for both you and your customers. Let’s look at them with some numbers.
Benefits of a Knowledge Base
- Improved customer experience
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Faster resolutions
- More first contact resolutions
- Reduced number of support tickets
- Lower support costs
- 24/7 availability
- More accessibility
- Deeper insights about your customer
- Highly scalable
Improved customer experience and higher satisfaction
89% of customers expect companies to have an online self-service support portal like a knowledge base. Meet, or ideally exceed, expectations, and you’ll have a higher CSAT. Pretty straightforward.
It reduces the number of support tickets you have to deal with
When you give customers an easy way to resolve issues on their own, it reduces the need to reach out to you. Which equals fewer tickets in your inbox.
Faster resolution rates
Even in cases where customers still reach out with common questions, sharing a relevant knowledge base article will result in more first-contact resolutions and faster resolution rates than long-drawn-out back-and-forths.
Lower support costs
According to Gartner, the average cost of an interaction on a live channel (phone, live chat, email, etc.) is $8.01 per contact. Which seems astronomical compared to the $0.10 per contact on a self-serve channel like a knowledge base.
One of the biggest benefits of a knowledge base is giving your customers access to your support, even when your team is not around. This is especially useful if you’re serving customers across multiple time zones.
A knowledge base allows you to support various learning styles since you can present information using a combination of text, images, audio, video, etc. This allows your customers to digest data in their preferred format, which further improves their ability to resolve issues independently.
Consistency across your support team
A knowledge base can serve as a helpful training tool to get all your agents on the same page while empowering them with the information they need to deliver exceptional service.
It helps you generate valuable insights about your customers
You get to learn more about your customers through reports that show you what customers are looking for and are finding, the search terms they’re using, etc.
Another no-brainer. It’s much easier to create knowledge base articles that serve multiple customers than respond to every query individually.
5 simple steps for creating a knowledge base from scratch
Great! Now that you’re clear about the numerous advantages, let’s go through the step-by-step process of creating a knowledge base.
Identify what you need to cover
The first step in creating your knowledge base is determining what it will cover.
An easy starting point is to first go through:
- the basic setup process customers go through when they first start using your product,
- and common questions that every single customer will have about your product and business.
From here, you can go deeper into specific features or issues that your customers face.
Going through your support tickets and other customer interactions will help you identify other commonly asked questions, misunderstandings, challenges, etc.
Once you have a list of topics, which could range from a handful to over a hundred, organize them based on how critical they are for your users to be successful with your product.
⭐ Slow and steady: Don’t think that your knowledge base needs to cover every single question right from the get-go. Start with the most pressing topics and build this list out gradually based on your customers’ needs.
Decide where you’ll document the information
Your knowledge base can be any place where you store and share information.
This could technically even be a Word document, a PDF, or a Google Drive shared folder.
But if you’re already using a customer service help desk, chances are it has a knowledge base feature or at the very least an integration with one.
Using knowledge base software (like Intercom, HelpCrunch, Document360, HelpJuice, etc.) can help ensure that your content is easy to access, find and share.
Whatever you choose, here are some features you’ll ideally want from your knowledge base software:
- Advanced search capability
- An easy-to-use editor that supports different types of media
- Collaborative authoring and version history
- Customizable design
- In-depth analytics
The best software is one you enjoy using regularly. And this can be different for different teams. So sign up for free trials and explore them yourself to understand which tool might work best for your team.
Make a structure for your knowledge base and individual articles
No matter how big or small your knowledge base is, it needs to be organized into different sections with individual articles. You can create categories based on the stage of the user journey, purpose, tasks, product area, or some combination of these.
For example, here are the different knowledge base categories we use at Klaus:
- Getting Started
- Using Klaus
- Professional Features
- Integration Userguides
- Pro Tips
- Webinar Recordings
You need to remember that no matter how good your knowledge base is, customers will still reach out to you. So make sure the contact support option and information are easy to find on every page.
Just like the overall structure, individual knowledge base articles will also need to follow a consistent format. Create writing guidelines that cover how titles will be written, the use of images and videos, how to tag articles, etc.
⭐ Establish clear systems: At this stage, you’ll also want to define how you’ll identify new article opportunities, the process to follow while updating and publishing articles, etc. Remove bottlenecks and assign roles for each of these areas. Also, give non-support teams like marketing and product a seat at the table.
Create content and publish your articles
If the person or people writing the article are not subject matter experts themselves, they simply need to collect the answer from the best-informed team members and use that to outline the document.
⭐ Repurpose content: You don’t need to write all your knowledge base articles from scratch. You can use many of the same answers from your past customer interactions and your canned responses.
You want your articles to be short, simple, and easy to scan without technical jargon or advanced terms. Go through your support interactions to ensure the voice and tone you use are consistent and as close as possible to the language used by your customer.
When it comes to formatting, make liberal use of headings, sub-headings, highlighting with bold and italics, bullet points, and white space to improve readability.
Furthermore, avoid making assumptions about your user’s level of knowledge. Take them through every single step, no matter how simple it seems to you. If your articles are well-formatted, more advanced users will simply jump to the parts that interest them.
To prevent articles from getting too long, share links to other resources where customers can get more information.
Lastly, support your explanations with visuals such as screenshots, images, videos, and GIFs, etc., to provide more context and keep users engaged. Visual media leave a lot less room for ambiguity than text and is especially useful for articles that require users to execute a sequence of steps.
⭐ Optimize for SEO: Include the keywords that your customers use when they search for information so that they can even find your articles directly on search engines like Google.
Analyze and improve your knowledge base
Once you’ve hit publish, the foundation of your knowledge base is set. But the work doesn’t end there.
⭐ Promote your knowledge base: If you want customers to use your knowledge base, they need to know it exists. So make sure you encourage your team to link out to these articles in support interactions and blog posts. Plus, add it to your site’s main navigation so that your customers can easily access it whenever they need it.
You’ll now want to learn about how customers are using your knowledge base so that you can identify gaps and further optimize it.
Keep an eye on knowledge base metrics like
- what they are searching for
- terms they’re using
- top visited pages
- failed searches
Additionally, you’ll want to measure the impact of your knowledge base on your other customer service metrics like CSAT, ticket volume, and FCRs.
⭐ Collect feedback: Besides keeping a close eye on metrics, ask your customers how useful they find your content with a quick survey as a pop-up or at the end of the article.
Audit your knowledge base regularly to ensure it’s always up to date. This includes adding content when you release new features or products, removing outdated information, and creating an article when you receive numerous tickets with a question that hasn’t been covered yet.
🎁 Here’s a free checklist you can use to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the steps we’ve mentioned. Create a copy and use it as you please.
And we’re done!
Hopefully, we’ve given you a solid base of knowledge to create and maintain your very own knowledge base.
If you’ve followed our guide while also considering the unique set of needs of your customers, it won’t be long before you start seeing the impact it has on your support metrics.
However, don’t forget. A good knowledge base is never complete. Keep an eye on metrics and usage to constantly adapt, improve and update your knowledge base content.
If you’re looking for suggestions on knowledge base software or need more guidance on creating and maintaining your knowledge base, head over to the Quality Tribe to get answers from a-meow-zing support folks just like you!