What is a Customer Service Knowledge Base?
To build strong relationships with your customers, you must be transparent and provide information. A customer service knowledge base gives you an easy way to provide tips and guidance to educate your users or customers.
A customer service knowledge base is a repository of information that people can access to find information, answers to FAQs, and steps they can take to troubleshoot and resolve issues.
What Exactly Does a Knowledge Base Contain?
A modern knowledge base will allow you to share a variety of content. Your knowledge base can include:
- Quick-start guides
- How-to instructions
- Product specifications
- Video demonstrations or tutorials
- Podcast and webinar recordings
- Articles, white papers, and e-books
- Industry-specific information or solutions
- Information about your company
The key is to create a knowledge base that’s easy for your customers to search and use and that presents information clearly.
A Customer Service Knowledge Base is Vital for Good Customer Experiences
Making information easy to find and understand will enhance customer satisfaction in several ways. A good customer service knowledge base:
Meets Customer Expectations for Self-Service
Your customers, who routinely use search engines to find the answers to questions, expect you to provide similar experiences for your products or services. Statista reports that 88% of consumers expect brands to have an online self-service portal.
A customer self-service knowledge base allows you to provide the information they need in an organized, searchable way. Moreover, customers never have to wait on hold while a song plays over and over. When you provide a knowledge base, your customers can access information 24/7/365 at their convenience, and no waiting is required.
You can enhance your self-service support portal with an intelligent, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. This allows users to ask questions, and the system can provide answers based on content from the knowledge base or connect them to that content so they can find answers.
Gives Your Customers Access to Accurate Information
A knowledge base aligns with the fact that people like to do things for themselves. Gartner research reveals that 62% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z customers would rather refer to YouTube videos or search a topic on an online community to find answers rather than wait on hold to talk to a customer support agent. Unfortunately, some advice on third-party sites may be wrong or misleading. Furthermore, those sites may paint your brand in a negative or unflattering way.
By giving your customers a resource of accurate, reliable information that you’ve created, you’ll have more control over the experience, your customers will receive accurate information, and your brand reputation will stay intact.
Contributes to Consistent Customer Service
A knowledge base can serve as a single source of information for your customers and your team. Customer service agents can refer to the knowledge base during calls so that customers receive consistent information, regardless of how they engage. It’s important to avoid situations where two customer support reps provide different information or contradict what is published on your website.
For many customers, consistency must be a given. Salesforce reports that 85% of consumers expect consistent interactions when engaging with a business.
Enables Successful Customer Journeys
A customer service knowledge base allows you to craft educational content for your customers. Using the data you’ve collected from interactions with your customers, you can determine the questions they typically ask and provide the answers in easy-to-understand formats.
Additionally, you can analyze the experiences of the customers who use your products or services to achieve the greatest business success. Then you can duplicate the path they took for other customers.
For example, suppose a software user participated in onboarding, asked for assistance in five areas, and primarily referred to two documents as user adoption ramped up. In that case, you can make similar information available to other users to increase their chances of success with the product.
Supports Different Learning Styles
Different people learn in different ways. Some people are visual learners, so video demos or tutorials will be the most valuable to them. Other people prefer to learn by reading or even printing how-to articles for reference as they troubleshoot.
You should also consider accessibility. Use alt text for graphics and images, and choose colors that make the text as easy as possible to read. If you use PDFs, follow the steps within those files to make them accessible.
Excellent customer service gives people the choice of how to access and consume information.
Also, allow customers to connect with knowledge base content through multiple service channels. Customers of your subscription services may appreciate a link to your knowledge base sent via social media message, or your fintech customers may want to connect through your app. Ensure content is accessible as well as consumable.
Accommodates Power Users
Your customers should never feel like you limit their access to the information that can help them succeed with your products or services. Encountering an issue or hitting a roadblock may be why some customers look for help and information.
However, some may explore your customer service knowledge base because they want to move to the next level with your product or services. These “power users” may be looking for new or innovative ways to get more value from your offerings.
Your customer service knowledge base can guide them to advanced capabilities, domain-specific solutions, and additional features that can benefit their businesses. Satisfying their craving for more information will increase customer satisfaction among these users. But it can also benefit your company by helping create brand ambassadors who are strong advocates of your products or services.
A Customer Service Knowledge Base is Key to Efficient Operations
A knowledge base meets your customers’ expectations for self-service and enables them to access information and explore topics in the level of detail they need. However, it also helps your team become more efficient and productive. And it can save you money.
Consider how a knowledge base could help your customer service team:
Decrease Support Tickets and Lower Costs
When customers can help themselves without talking to an agent, they’ll open fewer tickets. Therefore, a well-constructed, comprehensive knowledge base can translate to significant time and cost savings.
If you calculate the cost per contact across different engagement channels, you’ll see that an engagement with a customer service agent is exponentially higher, primarily due to labor costs, than when a customer uses a knowledge base.
Additionally, a knowledge base has an economy of scale. Multiple people can use your knowledge base at the same time, making it an even more valuable, cost-saving tool.
Moreover, when customer service agents handle fewer tier 1 tickets, it gives them more time to focus on improving the one-touch resolution rate. Overall, the total number of tickets and customer support costs decrease, and employee and customer satisfaction increase.
A knowledge base isn’t only accessible to customers. Customer service agents can use it as well. They can use it to find information quickly, point customers in the right direction, and efficiently address their issues. When agents work more efficiently, resolutions take less time, and they can achieve a higher throughput during a shift.
You have the option to create a knowledge base exclusively for employees to complement your customer-facing knowledge base. How to create a knowledge base for employees is similar to creating a similar resource for customers. However, formatting, search functions, and integrations may be different for your employee knowledge base.
Enhance Customer Service and Reduce Churn
As customers turn to the knowledge base for answers to FAQs and basic information, your customer service reps can focus on more complex issues. Moreover, they’ll be able to give them their full attention, enhancing customer service interactions with a personalized touch.
With an excellent knowledge base, your customers know they have a reliable source of information when they need support and that customer service agents are standing by for bigger issues.
Demonstrating that you are willing to invest in all the tools your customers need to be successful can help build trust and loyalty and contribute to higher customer retention rates.
How to Build a Customer Service Knowledge Base
A knowledge base is a complete library of information that requires a systematic approach to creating it.
These tips can help save time, cover all topics your customers need, and lay the foundation for ongoing management and maintenance.
Understand Your Customers and Their Painpoints
The best customer service knowledge bases reflect real customer journeys and issue resolutions. A smart strategy is to make data-based decisions about what customers need you to include in your knowledge base.
Use data from your customer support software or ticketing system to determine the most common customer service questions. Those are the most important topics to cover in your knowledge base.
Another way to determine what to include is to review customer feedback. For example, you can monitor your customer effort score (CES) and gauge how difficult customers perceive doing business with your company or using your products. If you ask questions about specific elements of your business, you can pinpoint areas that require excessive effort. Then, you can provide guidance in your knowledge base to make those parts of the customer journey easier.
Create a Knowledge Base Outline
The next step is to organize the information you need to include in the knowledge base. When you look at the topics your customers are most interested in, you’ll see that some are related to broader topics. An e-commerce company, for example, may be able to divide subjects into product information, payments and fees, shipping and order tracking, and wish lists and registries.
Organization is critical. Customers need to be able to find the answers to their questions to ensure customer satisfaction. A poor knowledge base experience will result in a customer who becomes frustrated and calls a customer service agent. If that continually occurs, customer support costs will increase, and the ROI of your knowledge base will decrease.
Improve any knowledge base with an FAQ section. The sooner you can connect people with the answers they need, the more effective your knowledge base will be.
Choose Your Knowledge Base Software
The knowledge base software you choose can make as much of an impact as the content you include. Customers will feel more comfortable if your knowledge base has the look and feel of the rest of your website — and not suspect they’ve clicked on a malicious link. The right knowledge base software will give you the ability to customize articles and other content to have them match your website’s style and your brand.
However, the best knowledge base software does more than give you control over appearance. It also enables functionality. Some questions to ask before choosing knowledge base software include:
Do You Want Your Knowledge Base to be Indexed by Search Engines?
A knowledge base can be filled with keywords, which can help enhance search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing initiatives. Software that enables indexing can also make the information easier for customers to find.
Does it Make the Knowledge Base Easy to Navigate?
You should make sure your customers can find the topics they’re interested in and dig deeper without getting caught in loops that take them back to a previous page or run into dead ends.
Also, look for software that automatically redirects users to new pages when you’ve made changes to the knowledge base. This feature will prevent users from receiving an error notice — and questioning the reliability of your knowledge base.
Do We Need Flexibility with Document Formatting?
Some knowledge base software solutions provide one template for articles and documents. Modern knowledge base tools will allow you to configure documents so customers can quickly find the information they need.
Is the Software Easy to Use?
Creating and maintaining your knowledge base will take effort, but the software you choose should streamline those processes. Look for software that makes it easy to tag articles, so they appear in the right categories, and drag-and-drop functionality for adding images or screenshots to documents or uploading files.
Can You Control Access to the Software?
Only authorized personnel should have access to the knowledge base. Your software should let you grant role-based permissions, for example, for authors to upload content for approval versus administrative permission to add categories or change the page layout.
Does it Integrate with Other Software?
Work with your IT department to determine how knowledge base software will fit into your tech stack to optimize customer service workflows and create the best customer experiences. Ensure the software you choose integrates with your customer service tool, live chat, and other applications and systems your team uses.
Does it Support Mobile Users?
Not all of your customers will use a PC to search your knowledge base. Many are using tablets or smartphones. Therefore, make sure your knowledge base software delivers good user experiences regardless of the devices or screen sizes your customers are using.
Does the Software Make it Easy to Back Up the Knowledge Base?
After you’ve created a comprehensive repository of information for your customers, you won’t want to lose it. Make sure you have a plan for backing up your knowledge base, including creating an immutable copy that will be safe and accessible even if your business is the victim of ransomware. Ensure your plan includes testing backups to confirm they are error-free and can be restored if needed.
How Much Does the Software Cost?
Some knowledge base software may be free with other Software as a Service (SaaS) subscriptions or systems that you use. However, those solutions may not provide you with all the functions and features that you need to create the best knowledge base for your customers.
Weigh the cost savings of using a free solution against the compromises you’d be making to determine if it is the best move for your company. Although adding a SaaS solution would mean an added monthly fee, it may save time and provide better customer experiences.
It’s best to choose the right knowledge base software upfront rather than go through the time-consuming task of switching to a different solution later.
Add Knowledge Base Links at Customer Touchpoints and Connect Them to Support Channels
Make your content easy to find. Include links on your website, within your app, on social media, and on any other channel on which your customers reach out.
When your knowledge base is easy to find, customers will open fewer tickets, saving your support team.
Designate A Person Responsible for the Knowledge Base
From the outset, your team needs to recognize that a knowledge base isn’t a one-time project. It requires a responsible person to maintain knowledge base articles and forms of content.
Assigning the right person to this role is vital. Choose someone with attention to detail, great organizational skills, and product knowledge. The person responsible for your knowledge base should also be able to work with people in all departments to collect information and keep knowledge base content updated.
Also, remember that It’s not necessary to assign this role to someone in the support team. Responsibility for the knowledge base can fall to anyone with the necessary skills and drive.
In addition, you may even find it beneficial to assign the upkeep of different parts of the knowledge base to different team members who work collaboratively to create one comprehensive resource.
Develop and Execute a Content Creation Strategy
Your knowledge base will likely have numerous articles and files, so a shotgun approach can lead to disorganization and redundant information. A better strategy is to generate content systematically.
Begin with content related to customers’ most common pain points that customers can easily resolve on their own with the guidance you’re providing. Next, enlist members of your team or contractors to create professionally written articles using these tips.
Create a Style Guide and Content Template
Customers often visit multiple knowledge base pages to research an issue or resolve a problem. When they move from page to page, they should find content written in the same way, using the same style and conventions.
A style guide will help all writers create content consistently. For example, it will tell them how to abbreviate terms and use naming conventions for your products, whether to use symbols, and how to write numbers and units. Using the same style throughout the knowledge base will minimize confusion and create better self-service experiences.
Also, provide writers with a template for content. A knowledge base article that’s one long paragraph will be less usable than an article divided by main points and “skimmable” so that a reader can quickly find specific information.
Giving writers guidance on how to create content will save them time with revisions and result in more valuable content overall.
Be Descriptive with Content and Headlines
Some content in your knowledge base may be high-level or answer simple questions. However, people coming to your site for help want detailed instructions. Be as descriptive as possible when walking them through steps to troubleshoot issues or to follow a how-to guide. Screenshots can help visual learners better understand instructions by illustrating each step or point you make.
Also, remember that people reading a knowledge base will use the article’s title to find information. Write the title so it communicates the content of a knowledge base article so customers can spend their time finding answers rather than searching through articles.
Conduct Quality Control
Before you push any article live, make sure you get a second (or third) set of eyes on it. Establish a review process that includes reading articles for accuracy. It may be helpful to have someone test the steps in a how-to or troubleshooting to see if a user would be able to resolve an issue.
Also, a proofreader should check articles for grammar and spelling. All writers need someone to look over content after they finish drafting — people can often miss their own mistakes, even when they read or reread what they write. A proofreader can ensure that articles are published error-free.
Additionally, everyone on your team should take responsibility to ensure that knowledge base content is updated and accurate. If customer service agents notice that articles need to be updated or spot typos, they should notify the person responsible for knowledge base maintenance to correct it as soon as possible.
Use Video, Infographics, and Other Types of Content
Your knowledge base doesn’t have to be limited to articles. Include a variety of content types that may appeal to different users. One may prefer to listen to spoken instructions or watch a tutorial. Others may like a visual step-by-step instruction guide.
If you determine that your knowledge base will leverage these types of content, establish guidelines for their creation, much like you have done with written articles so that they can be presented consistently, following brand guidelines.
Link to Additional Resources
Your customers may want to diver deeper into a topic, or the article they first chose to read may not have been what they’re looking for. Help them quickly find additional resources with text links or a list of related articles.
This strategy can lead to better customer self-service experiences, and it can also boost SEO, showing that you’ve created a valuable resource worth including near the top of search engine results.
How to Measure a Knowledge Base’s Effectiveness
After launch, it may be hard to know if your knowledge base is doing its job. You may see a decrease in tickets, which is a great indicator. Or you may receive anecdotal information from a customer that the article helped them find information on their own. But you may not have visibility into whether customers are satisfied with their experiences and if the way you’ve presented information is valuable to them.
An excellent way to gauge your knowledge base’s effectiveness is to include a one-question survey or have a chatbot ask if the article was helpful. This feedback can help you determine whether customers found the answers they needed. If the response to a particular article is “no,” take another look at that content and consider how to revise it so it’s more useful to your customers.
What’s an Example of a Good Knowledge Base?
As you’re building your knowledge base, it may be helpful to look at examples of some of the resources other companies have created for their customers. Take note of how their knowledge bases organize and present information, the features of the software they’ve chosen, and graphics and design elements that make a big impact.
Here are a few knowledge bases you can check out for ideas:
The Zoom Support page greets users and provides a search bar above the fold. It also lists links to common troubleshooting topics front and center so users can save time resolving those issues.
Zoom Support also features graphical buttons that take users to pages on specific topics like product support, learning center, and account management. In addition, the page lists links to featured articles, top resources, and video tutorials. It also includes a download center so customers can download the latest version of the software and release notes.
And importantly, it includes easy ways to connect with Zoom support via chatbot or phone, interact with users in the Zoom community, or submit a ticket.
Scentbird, which offers monthly perfume subscription boxes, has an online help center that’s customer-friendly and on-brand.
In addition to allowing customers to search for support topics, Scentbird provides links to the answers to FAQs. It also allows customers to search by categories, such as memberships and subscriptions, billing and payment, shipping and tracking, and returns.
The codecademy resources page helps direct people to the information they need as they’re learning to code. codecademy has organized its page with headings, including “Docs,” “Cheatsheets,” and “Interview Challenges,” as well as links to articles, videos, and projects.
This self-service knowledge example also provides a link to the codecademy Career Center, filled with articles, tips, and links that can help users land tech jobs.
What Do You Want Your Customers to Know?
Knowledge management is the foundation of customer self-service. Building a customer service knowledge base filled with diverse content types on a range of topics allows you to create effective self-service experiences.
Additionally, it can help your team operate more efficiently. Customers use the knowledge base for tier 1 requests, and your customer service agents can focus on more complex issues and provide personalized support. Agents increase their performance and productivity, customer support costs decrease, and customers are happier and more satisfied with service.
To maximize those benefits from a knowledge base, however, you need to understand your customers and their pain points, and build a resource that addresses them. In addition to working consistently and systematically, you also need to use knowledge base software with the right features for your business and your customers. One of those features is integration with your customer service platform.
Solvvy’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform for customer service and support leverages knowledge base information. It crawls the knowledge base (and other resources) before launch so it can learn how to communicate with customers on key issues. Solvvy’s Analytics dashboard shows you exactly what knowledge base content could be improved, expanded, or even created for the first time.
Request a demo to see how Solvvy works with your knowledge base to deliver the right information to your customers at the right time.