What Is a Knowledge Base & Why It’s Important for Streamlining Support Tasks
From product descriptions and user guides to company policies and customer data, businesses can become inundated with all types of valuable information but with no place to store it; enter a knowledge base. Accessible to both customers and employees, a well-managed and maintained knowledge base is a powerful tool found in modern Help Desk Software solutions that helps to streamline the support processes of internal and external personnel.
What Is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base is a digitized self-service library that is filled with readily available information for both internal and external personnel. A leading feature in modern Help Desk Software tools, a knowledge base is able to store various forms of information including:
- Product and service user guides
- Troubleshooting guides
- Company policies
- Health and safety information
- Digital media (images, videos, and audio)
Updated and added to by contributors who have a profound understanding of relevant topics, a knowledge base is used to organize information in a way that’s easily browseable and searchable for all end users. Allowing customers and employees to find the information they need without having to contact a support agent.
When it comes to needing support, most customers prefer a self-service approach as opposed to going back-and-forth with a support agent. In fact, 91% of customers say they would prefer to use a knowledge base, providing that it met their needs. This is why many businesses today are putting a focus on improving their self-service capabilities, with knowledge base management being at the forefront.
The Importance of Having a Working Knowledge Base
In today’s world of on-demand requests, end-users not only require an instant response to queries but they also expect quality problem-solving solutions. In fact, a huge 90% of customers expect an immediate response to tickets and queries.
But, with customers less likely to phone support teams or raise tickets via email, businesses have been forced to look elsewhere for delivering quality customer service. This is why an information-rich knowledge base is key to providing the best support services for end users.
A well-managed knowledge base has many benefits, including being able to reduce ticket inflow by allowing users to access a centralized repository of detailed information. Not only this, but it also allows support agents to understand specific areas where additional support is needed. Enabling support teams to become more productive and efficient.
It also acts as a valuable content resource that helps to engage and educate prospective and existing customers, as well as a business’s internal employees.
Ideally, a knowledge base will be able to work with other features of a help desk system to ensure seamless end user support. Integration is a powerful feature and means support teams can get even better insights regarding end user requests. While also making use of AI and automation, such as being able to link relevant articles into chatbot conversations.
Key Factors for Building and Maintaining a Knowledge Base
Identifying how end-users and support teams are going to benefit from the use of a knowledge base is the easy part. Building it and determining its contents is where it gets tricky.
The content found in most self-service tools can vary depending on the product or service that is being offered, which is one factor that IT support teams should take into account when building a knowledge base. For example, if teams are receiving a repeated enquiry from multiple end users, then a fix for this problem should feature prominently.
As well as aiming to support a customer’s needs, a knowledge base also needs to be an essential resource for support agents and employees. This requires a lot of time and research to understand what information is needed in order to benefit all end-users.
Building an External Knowledge Base
Whereas an internal knowledge base is for employee’s eyes only, an external one is open and accessible to the public. Providing information to existing and potential customers. The content found in an external knowledge base can include:
- Product and service guides
- Troubleshooting steps and guides
- Instructional images and videos
- A list of FAQs
- Contact information for specific business departments and personnel
Building an Internal Knowledge Base
An internal knowledge base is created to be accessed only by the employees of a business to help streamline tasks and find quick fixes to internal issues. Typical content includes:
- Onboarding materials
- Content style guides and pattern libraries
- Company policies and procedures
- Health and safety documentation
- Fire safety protocols
What Are the Benefits of Using a Knowledge Base
Reduces the Amount of Support Tickets
By building a centralized knowledge base, support teams are enabling end users to independently find a solution to their problem. This means customers and employees are able to resolve their issues via long-form text articles or FAQ sheets, avoiding the need to create a support ticket.
By not having to contact a support agent, a business’s ticket deflection rate will increase. A reduced ticket inflow also means that support agents can focus their time on more complex enquiries and give personal attention to a business’s most valued customers.
This personalisation from support agents is essential for being able to offer outstanding customer service. Only 36% of consumers feel like individuals when they contact customer service, with 64% saying they feel like a ticket number.
Provides Information to Customers On-Demand
A knowledge base allows end users to access the information they need immediately on their own terms. This means they’re not waiting for the ‘next available representative’ to assist them, which can be a huge time saver.
End users will also benefit from access to an entire library of in-depth information. This applies not only to the topic they immediately need assistance with but also through related articles and tutorials that can provide increased value.
An example of a good information repository that focuses on the importance of self-service is Hootsuite. The social media scheduling platform has made a wealth of information available not just to its paying clients, but to prospective clients too.
As you can see, at the top of the knowledge base is a status report so clients can see if Hootsuite’s dashboard is functional. Their help articles are browseable, as well as searchable, and you can easily reach other resources from the Hootsuite Academy (free online training) and various webinars.
Increases the Productivity of Support Agents
A good knowledge base is worth its weight in gold, not only to customers and internal employees but to support agents too.
Once familiar with the content, agents can copy and paste relevant answers while manning various multi-channel support lines such as live chat. Or, they can simply include a link to the right article in the knowledge base for customers to read.
Being able to offer this type of instant support is beneficial in a number of ways, such as avoiding repetition. This means agents won’t have to painstakingly type out the same answers to the same questions time and time again.
Customers are also more likely to receive a faster response time to their enquiry. In fact, 88% of customers expect a response to their initial enquiry from a business within 60 minutes. While 30% expect a reply within 15 minutes or less.
Creates a Valuable Company-Wide Resource
Customers aren’t the only users to benefit from the introduction of a knowledge base; all internal employees will find it useful too. Even if they don’t directly work within the support team.
Take the sales and marketing departments, for example. By having fingertip access to centralized information regarding the latest product launches and upgrades, such as prices and features, they’re also able to reap the rewards of valuable content.
An important role that a company-wide knowledge base will play is to ensure all employees are on the same page and that there are no mixed messages. Especially when interacting with customers.
Improves Digital Presence
A knowledge base that forms part of a business’s website can also be found by search engines. This is possible through the use of long-form articles that have been optimized with relevant keywords. Not only can this improve a company’s search engine presence and pull more traffic to their website, but it will also increase online engagement with prospective customers.