As a business grows and obtains new customers and employees, the likelihood of people needing assistance somewhere along the way increases. Whether its helping customers figure out how to use your product or service, onboarding new employees, or guiding existing employees about new products, somebody is bound to need help.
The problem with this new growth is that your customer support team and internal managers can quickly become overwhelmed with questions. A solution to this is to build a knowledge base (KB). A knowledge base, also known as a help center, gives users the information they want and need about your company, products, and services.
In this guide you'll learn why you need a knowledge base, how to build one, and how it can help your business.
- What is a knowledge base?
- What is the purpose of a knowledge base?
- Benefits of a knowledge base
- Types of knowledge bases
- Knowledge base vs. database
- How to build a knowledge base
- Knowledge base for customer support chatbots
What is a knowledge base?
A knowledge base is a centralized online resource that contains information about a company's products and services and their use. Knowledge bases provide information in different formats that answer frequent queries and assist customers in addressing challenges. Many teams also employ article base libraries internally to help employees efficiently locate the data they need.
A knowledge base uses technology to store structured and unstructured information for easy retrieval in a search, even by an inexperienced user. Unlike a broad database, a knowledge base can readily serve various people as it is a searchable and structured library of articles and knowledge.
What does a knowledge base include?
A knowledge base can contain various articles of information, such as:
- User documentation and multimedia overviews, to help consumers understand how to use a specific product. This can include how-to guides and tutorials with screenshots, visual representations, or quick step-by-step videos.
- Employee training guidebook for better awareness of a company's offerings and services and the internal procedures and policies
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) for customers that don’t require too much depth or technical support.
- News and updates that include community announcements, product updates, new update releases, documented platform issues, etc.
- Reference documentation intended for a more technical demographic, such as computer programmers. They are handy if your product includes an API that developers or consumers can leverage to improve their app or create bespoke integrations with their current software.
Although 81% of customers indicate they want additional self-service alternatives, barely 15% are satisfied with today's tools.
What is the purpose of a knowledge base?
One of the biggest challenges businesses today confront is siloed information or data accessible by only one team or, in some cases, just one individual. Without access to critical data, an organization cannot function properly, especially if knowledgeable workers quit the organization.
A company’s knowledge base is a library of important information that supports day-to-day operations. Consider it a self-service encyclopedia for your internal stakeholders and buyers. It facilitates workplace collaboration, development, and problem resolution.
A well-managed employee knowledge base can improve internal performance. Customer support teams can use help center articles to manage new requests and recurring consumer complaints. IT teams can store and manage troubleshooting data and documentation on product or software solutions. Human resource teams can use it for training, onboarding, and keeping staff informed.
Meanwhile, a customer-facing knowledge base provides critical self-service customer support. Most consumers would solve problems independently rather than contacting customer service, and a knowledge base admirably fulfills this goal. They can seek answers and advice via FAQ pages, in-app tutorials, and other content.
Customers don't have to wait for support teams to resolve their challenges because they can do it themselves. This self-service customer interaction option offers them greater control over their experience with your company's offerings and services.
If customers resolve their own issues, they won't need to submit a ticket, which means you’ll have fewer support tickets to deal with. This empowers customer care agents to focus exclusively on critical or high-priority consumer inquiries requiring attention or tailored solutions.
Benefits of a knowledge base
With a robust article library and knowledge management strategy, your business will be more agile, reduce costs and provide fully accessible and searchable help. Here are some significant benefits of using a knowledge base:
Boost customer satisfaction
Consumers can seek their own answers by using the self-service information available in knowledge bases. This method is faster and more efficient than reaching out to the business.
An effective knowledge base helps establish frameworks that improve your entire customer experience. The more help your consumers receive, the more likely they'll succeed. As a result, they'll be more inclined to remain with your brand in the long run.
Improved employee satisfaction
Employees with access to a self-service knowledge base can quickly resolve their queries. An employee resource library empowers your staff to discover the information they seek on their own time. It also fosters a culture of knowledge sharing and ensures that all teams are on the same page when interacting with customers since it guarantees that the data they present stays consistent.
Offers 24/7 assistance
A robust self-service support portal directs users to a suitable solution while avoiding long wait periods. Customers are enabled to resolve issues on their own when they arise.
Better organic customer acquisition
Customer-facing knowledge base information also appears in online search results, which can help improve a company's search engine optimization (SEO) potential. In addition to assisting existing clients, excellent documentation can help you acquire new consumers organically.
Moreover, a knowledge base is a fantastic form of authoritative content that allows you to exhibit thought leadership while retaining a significant portion of Google's SERP real estate for relevant search terms.
More than 25% of an employee’s time is spent looking for the information they need to complete their jobs, and having a searchable record of company-related information can reduce this lost time.
This helps run a workplace more effectively as employees no longer need to seek assistance since they have access to all necessary information. High-quality help center articles also empower consumers to address simple issues independently without waiting for customer service teams to help them.
Faster onboarding and training
A knowledge base is a valuable asset for customer onboarding. You can send new customers welcome emails with links to help center articles or explanatory videos. You can also establish an internal resource library for onboarding and training new hires.
More consistent service
With an efficient knowledge base, everyone in your business will refer to the same playbook. The information is the same whether you work in sales, IT, HR, or any other division. This eliminates uncertainty and allows teams to function more consistently.
Lower training costs
A knowledge base backed by a sound knowledge management program ensures that recruits are taught the most up-to-date material and can learn at their own pace anywhere. This reduces the need for costly onboarding orientation and in-person training.
Types of knowledge bases
There are two kinds of knowledge bases: internal and external.
Internal knowledge base
Also known as an employee or private knowledge base, helps document and distribute corporate knowledge, rules, and resources. An internal resource library helps share sensitive business information that allows your workforce complete policies, procedures, and processes.
It can only be accessed by employees and contractors you've hired, making it a perfect location to keep confidential corporate information. An internal knowledge base can be helpful for many different departments, such as: human resources, marketing, IT, accounting, sales and customer support.
The information in an internal repository is intended to improve your business operations by assisting employees in searching and discovering critical information to improve their daily workflows. Because it's private, you can add sensitive content that you wouldn’t place in a public knowledge base. Some examples of information you can add include:
- Internal process documentation, tutorials, and standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Troubleshooting manuals
- Employee incentives
- Meeting discussions
- Company announcements
- Information about the business and its services
External knowledge base
Also known as a customer-facing knowledge base, is a public repository where consumers can learn more about a company's goods or services from knowledge base articles. These external article libraries are consumer self-serve portals, so users can search and discover answers to their concerns without contacting a company's help desk, which lowers the number of support tickets.
External knowledge bases frequently include:
- Techniques or resources for resolving user issues
- How-to manuals and product walkthroughs
- FAQs about the product and services
- Ordering and invoicing information for customers
Knowledge base vs. database
Knowledge bases and databases contain essential information and make it easy to find required data. However, they are not the same thing.
A database is a repository for the data that your company collects. A database is one of the most common methods of collecting and managing ordered data. Databases keep data in its most basic form: the facts, the fundamental pieces of information that must be further processed and examined. It doesn't provide solutions; instead, it stores the knowledge required to develop them.
A database aims to properly store massive amounts of raw data acquired by your business, making it accessible and useable. They make it simple to find, alter, and filter basic data.
A knowledge base is a repository of information. It's a collection of solutions, instructions, and ready-made answers regarding a specific topic or sector. Consider them similar to a library specialized in a particular case, product, business, department, service, etc. This isn’t raw data; it answers structured queries and addresses frequent challenges.
The goal of knowledge bases is to make it simple for users to search for answers to queries without seeking assistance. They are self-service tools that provide users with solutions and instructions.
How to build a knowledge base
Customers aren't looking for complicated, hard-to-navigate self-service portals that take more time to use than they could save. They want information they can find quickly and easily. Establishing a sound knowledge base needs a concentrated effort to identify shortcomings, produce and evaluate knowledge, categorize articles into appropriate groups or categories, and maintain the content to be current.
Here are some measures to remember while developing a knowledge base for a support desk.
1. Identify your business needs
It's not just enough to understand the value of a knowledge base. Figuring out its purpose for your organization is also critical. The first step in creating a robust help center is determining the need it'll address.
Consider your target audience. Do you desire your knowledge base to benefit your employees, consumers, or both? Once you've determined which audience group your knowledge base will serve, look into the most critical knowledge gaps.
The answers to the following questions will help you decide whether or not you need a self-service knowledge base and how it must be built.
- What are your customers' or employees' most often-asked queries or topics?
- What is the current response rate to employee and consumer inquiries, and is it increasing?
- What department is constantly swamped with information requests?
- What significant gaps would occur if specific professionals left and took their knowledge with them?
- Is your organization's productivity suffering due to inefficient information sharing?
2. Choose a knowledge base software
Knowledge base tools help gather, store and distribute company-specific information in a single location. Overall, its primary objective is to answer all fundamental questions related to your company. Whereas more advanced tools go a step further, leveraging automation and machine learning to automatically propose relevant articles from the library in response to user inquiries.
Knowledge base software's primary goal is to make it simple for businesses to develop and share meaningful content with their employees and customers. Here are some essential features you need to look out for when selecting a good knowledge base software:
- Multiple self-service alternatives: A promising platform provides options for users to find answers, such as an assistance search widget and a community forum.
- Intuitive content management capabilities: Your authors, editors, and administrators will use content management features to produce, update, schedule, and publish information. Since many diverse users rely on these functionalities to produce content, the content management in your program must be simple and intuitive.
- Search engine: Good knowledge base tools make it simple for users to find the information they need. The secret is that they have a sophisticated search engine that offers users the solution they seek. The best tools understand how users search for information and optimize their search features accordingly.
- SEO capabilities: Ensure that the knowledge base software is SEO-friendly. Users should be able to incorporate meta tags and titles that boost search engine visibility in the articles. This can help you rank higher in search results and increase traffic to your help desk articles.
- Feedback, reporting, and analytics: A sound knowledge base software does more than educate your consumers about your product or service. Knowledge base systems also assist your support agents and executives learn how people use your product through feedback mechanisms and content analytics to update knowledge base articles accordingly.
A knowledge management software solution. Create a winning 24/7 self-service portal using Velaro’s knowledge base platform.
3. Create a basic knowledge base structure
It's necessary to have a well-organized KB so that users can easily find what they are looking for. Creating a framework for your online library from the start will help you manage your material as your knowledge base expands, inform navigation design, and make it more user-friendly.
You can structure your knowledge base in a range of ways:
1. Based on user type or role
2. Based on activity
3. Based on the stage or experience of a user
4. Based on product type
Your knowledge base will grow with your business and content. That's why it's critical to create broad categories to include various information that can be subcategorized by topic or cluster later.
4. Gather content and select knowledge base contributors
Your knowledge base demands a steady influx of engaging information that directly fits the needs of your target audience. Assign the job of a contributor to your key employees and subject matter experts (SMEs) with proficiency and experience dealing with employee and customer concerns. For small businesses, SMEs can include product managers, content specialists, or department managers who can take up the knowledge management work for their teams.
For enterprises, a knowledge manager can ensure that everyone in your business has access to the required details. They accomplish this by overseeing the continuing governance of a knowledge base or corporate wiki, as well as its general health and best practices. Anyone can be a knowledge manager, but those who formally take on the position and duties often include:
- IT managers
- Program managers
- Enablement managers (including revenue, sales, and CX)
- Operations managers
- Learning and development (L&D) managers
SMEs and knowledge managers should be in charge of generating content to ensure the quality, accuracy, and usefulness of all knowledge base information. Here's how the approach can work:
Begin by gathering any previously documented information
You likely already have the information you can include in your knowledge base. Look for FAQs, release documents, and internal resources consumers can benefit from.
Tip: Your customer service tool has a wealth of well-written, repeatable explanations. Copy all the information to a single location to analyze the data for any inconsistencies or duplicates.
Create article templates
The project or knowledge manager decides or delegates the creation of the articles essential for each category to SMEs with a schedule. They save teams time by creating bespoke templates and ensuring information is communicated consistently.
Assign a critical team member to review, update and mantain
Experts or critical team members are responsible for creating and maintaining material that adheres to the requirements set by the knowledge base manager.
5. Good SEO practices
Optimize your knowledge base for SEO by including keywords that individuals are more likely to search for while looking for information. An SEO-friendly external knowledge base speeds up the discovery of relevant information for existing customers while also increasing your website's exposure on search engines, bringing in new users. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Conduct extensive keyword and search intent research
- Optimize your content
- Internal and external linking to improve the overall ranking
- Include a sitemap in your knowledge base
- Ensure that all device types are responsive
- Improve your media SEO optimization
6. Upload and publish your content
After the articles have been written, evaluated, and approved, verify that they have been optimized for search engines to obtain maximum visibility for your knowledge base content. The material can then be published in your repository.
7. Analyze and update your content
It's just as important to manage and maintain your knowledge base as it is to create or add material. Customers should find your tutorials and articles helpful in order to fully utilize a self-service approach. Track knowledge base metrics like article views and visitor feedback on particular pages to see if your material is valuable to customers. You can edit the articles or remove individual items from your repository based on your analysis.
Knowledge base for customer support chatbots
A self-service knowledge base is great, but sometimes customers need the proper guidance to find their solution. Chatbots can be a massive asset for simplifying your customer journey and ensuring the best experience, but only if they function from a strong foundation: your optimized knowledge base.
When a consumer initiates a conversation, a rule-based chatbot can be the touchpoint and provide relevant knowledge articles to handle the issue. This is simply another method of delivering self-service, and if the chatbot cannot resolve the issue, it can quickly transfer the discussion to a live chat agent.
When machine learning is added to the equation, chatbots can continuously upgrade their answers by intelligently recommending the most helpful information article with greater precision, speed, and nuance. This allows businesses to deliver immediate support while reducing ticket backlog.
Here are some reasons why you must integrate your knowledge base with your customer support chatbot:
- Chatbots require access to data sources to replicate human discussions using AI models. Chatbots must know FAQs and the best responses when conversing with website visitors. When coupled with a knowledge base, the chatbot can search through the documents to find the most relevant answer to the user's inquiry.
- Chatbots can comprehend unstructured data input, analyze it accurately, and generate a structured output. For instance, user inputs can have diverse sentence structures and grammatical nuances. The chatbot can interpret the question, compare it to the structured data in the knowledge base, and offer the output thanks to its machine learning skills. A knowledge base is essential for extracting structured data. Without it, the chatbot's resources will be stretched to find an output that may or may not fit user preferences.
- Chatbots require a lower initial cost and time commitment than support representatives. They can also respond faster to customer queries. One chatbot can serve more consumers than a single customer support agent, allowing them to scale quickly. Chatbots can also quickly search through hundreds of keywords and act as an extension of your knowledge base.
- Modern AI chatbots leverage natural language understanding (NLU) and semantics to comprehend context. These bots can converse more organically with customers and respond to more inputs without being specifically taught every possible query. This also allows chatbots to comprehend the same query asked in various ways and provide consumers with correct responses.
Tip: There is no need to create separate knowledge bases for your website and bot. You'll need to develop only one knowledge base and deploy it to your chatbot and website. In this manner, you can eliminate duplicates while also identifying knowledge gaps. You can also build a database of customer live chat questions to fill knowledge gaps.
The rundown: A single source of truth for your business
Whether you’re a small business owner or an enterprise-level organization, the benefits of a knowledge base can be substantial. There are many different areas where knowledge bases can be used, such as providing support for your product or service, educating your employees and customers on a topic, and establishing a culture of knowledge sharing. Every company is different, but a KB is an easy way to store documentation, FAQs, and troubleshooting tips.
Integrating your customer support chatbots and a knowledge base is an excellent way to supercharge your self-service capabilities to improve customer experience and engagement. The articles on your help center can be the building block for a successful chatbot, allowing it to provide valuable information without overwhelming users or requiring them to navigate complex menus.
And the best part is, integrating a knowledge base and chatbot doesn't have to be complex. With the right solution, it's not only possible but also easily done.