A Guide to Building a Kickass Knowledge Base
Are you buried in such an overwhelming amount of support tickets that your team is having a hard time coming up for air? Or do you and your team keep getting the same support questions over and over again, no matter how many times you answer them?
If you are (or if you have been in the past), you’re probably wondering what the best way to scale your customer support to avoid these problems is. But you probably already know that it can sometimes be hard to do without decreasing the overall quality of your service.
The solution? A knowledge base software. With a knowledge base, also known as a customer portal, your users can solve their own customer support issues, leaving you time to deal with the more serious inquiries. This can save you time, money, and peace of mind. Plus, it will likely lower your overall ticket volume drastically.
Here’s the ultimate guide to building a kickass knowledge base that solves customer issues and satisfies their support needs. First and foremost, you need to understand precisely what a knowledge base is and why it’s so important that you add one to your customer support arsenal.
What is a Knowledge Base?
Put simply, a knowledge base is an online library of information or guides about a service, topic, product, or department. This library serves as a source of self-serve customer service. All customers have to do is search for their question or find it in the right category to get actionable solutions to their problems.
The data that you include in your knowledge base usually comes from a few contributors that know the ins and outs of the topics that your customers need to know about. You can have knowledge base articles about your legal department or terms and conditions, as well as articles about how your products, services, hardware, or software operates.
These can include troubleshooting guides, FAQs, or any other important details that your customers might need to be aware of. Most knowledge bases might look something like this one from GoDaddy.
Now that you know what a knowledge base is and how it works, you might be wondering why it’s so important to build one. The proof is in the pudding. 44% of customers already think that it takes them more effort than the brands they’re getting help from to solve support problems.
That means that they won’t mind the small amount of effort that using a knowledge base takes. And customers say that the two most satisfying aspects of a customer service experience are:
– Not having to repeat themselves or be directed to another agent (39%)
– Having their problem solved on first contact (24%)
With a knowledge base management system, customers won’t have to repeat their issue or be passed around between agents, and they are likely to find solutions the first time they access your content.
Customers want to solve problems on their own, too. As many as 50% of customers believe that it’s essential to resolve customer service issues on their own. Gartner believes that “by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.”
So you have to make sure you give customers the tools in your knowledge base that they need to solve problems themselves. And the good news is that creating one and increasing its adoption is a lot easier than you might think.
How to Create a Knowledge Base
Here’s how to go about setting up your knowledge base in Freshdesk. First, head to Solutions and click “New Category.”
Enter a name and short description for the category or articles you plan to create. Then, hit “Save.”
Once you’ve created a category, you can edit it by clicking on the category you created and selecting the “Edit” button.
To create a folder, head to “Solutions” and click “New Folder” under the category that you want to create a folder in.
Enter a name and description for the folder you are going to create. You can also set the visibility for each folder. You can choose to make folders visible to everyone, or you can make it only visible to users or agents who are logged in.
It’s even possible to take it a step further and make some folders only visible to certain companies that enter their names. Once you’ve selected the desired settings, hit Save. In each folder, you can create knowledge base articles. But you might be wondering: “How do I choose knowledge base topics?”
How to Choose Knowledge Base Topics
It’s easier to select topics for your knowledge base than it sounds. All you have to do is search for trends in the questions you usually receive. If your customer support team is getting several of the same questions over and over again, you can cut back on those questions by writing knowledge base articles answering those questions.
Search through old tickets and record the number of queries related to particular problems. If a large percentage of queries are related to a recurring issue, like resetting a password or how a specific product feature works, record those topics and write content that solves those issues.
Once you’ve selected a few topics and created some articles, you can gain insights about them in Google Analytics to make sure they’re what your customers want to see. All you have to do is look at your internal site search analytics. To do this, head to “Behavior” and click “Site Search.”
Then, click “Overview” to look at the common terms that people are searching for. You can also compare specific time periods and sort results by “Absolute Change” to check out trends that have risen over time.
“Just start,” says Chris Gallo, a Highrise CRM support team member. “Break it apart into smaller pieces. Try writing one article today. That’s it. Before you know it, you’ll build momentum.” You should structure your knowledge base in a way that makes it easy for readers to digest information.
Structuring the Knowledge Base
If you don’t structure your knowledge base documentation, your customers won’t be able to find what they need quickly (or they might not be able to find it at all). Most knowledge bases are structured with a basic home page for all of their support-based articles.
On this page, it’s a common practice to include the most popular knowledge base articles. This example of Evernote’s knowledge base landing page demonstrates that clearly:
In their knowledge base, customers can search for specific issues, search by top articles, or navigate through all of the company’s support content by categories.
Discoverability is key. Sift through the most popular articles on your knowledge base and make them prominent on your homepage, like Evernote. The brand also offers a community program where users share tips, tricks, and information about their software.
You should also sort articles and group similar topics together, like Trello. All of their articles on “Getting Started” are grouped together, as well as articles about “Troubleshooting,” “Apps,” and so on.
This makes it simple for customers to narrow down which category of articles they should be searching for help in. You need to improve search functions on your site so that users can find specific problems, which we’re going to cover next.
Knowledge Base Templates and Examples
Most knowledge base software out there is pretty user-friendly, so it’s easy to create your knowledge base quickly. But there are a few elements that every knowledge base needs, like a visible search box.
With a search box, your users will be able to find what they need in seconds instead of sifting through different categories to find that specific article they’re looking for. Add a search bar to the top of your knowledge base like this one from MyEducator.
This turns your knowledge base into a sort of customer support “search engine.” Rather than having to sift through different categories and hope that they can find what they’re looking for, customers can simply type in a few keywords to find what they need.
Don’t forget to integrate your knowledge base with any live chat options you might offer, as well. That way, if a user can’t find what they need in your knowledge base, they can immediately connect with a customer service representative from the same screen.
One of the easiest ways to make your knowledge base more effective is to cross-link articles that are related since it will enhance overall user experience. This process is pretty straightforward. You don’t need any complex skills to interlink other articles within each new one you write.
Here’s how Adobe does it within their knowledge base articles:
It’s best to incorporate keywords and tags in your knowledge base articles just like you would in blog posts. This will optimize them for search engines and help you meet two goals at the same time: boosting your SEO while also building a vast knowledge base that users will love.
There are tons of different knowledge base tools and software out there to choose from. Here are a few to keep in mind.
Knowledge Base Tools and Software
Choosing helpdesk and knowledge base management software can be tricky if you don’t know what kinds of tools you need. Luckily, there are a few affordable options out there that stand out from the rest, starting with Mojo Helpdesk.
It’s free for three users or $29 per month for up to 10 users. Customers can also rate each article. This helps to inspire the continual improvement of knowledge base content. Mojo Helpdesk calculates all of the favorable ratings of your knowledge base and gives you a “positive feedback” score based on the ratings.
That way, you can find out which knowledge base content is helping people find the help they need and which content could use some work. With this tool, it’s easy to add powerful search bars to your knowledge base that help customers find content related to an exact topic.
UserEcho is another excellent knowledge base software. This tool is $15 per month per user. With UserEcho, you’ll be able to see powerful insights for each article like the number of views, the overall usefulness of the article, and the date of publication.
Like the rating system used with Mojo Helpdesk, these stats can be helpful for assessing which knowledge base articles are useful and which ones need editing. If users aren’t satisfied or don’t find what they need in an article, UserEcho asks them for suggestions on how to improve it. That information is then passed on to you, which you can use to tweak the article to better fit users’ needs.
Although we’re a bit biased, Freshdesk is another effective knowledge base tool to try. Plus, it’s free for unlimited agents to get started using the service. You can curate knowledge base content in a pinch with our rich text editor or add in the attachments you need.
Adding meta information to optimize your content and make it more discoverable is a breeze with our automatic indexing. You can also easily control content visibility in Freshdesk, making it simple to keep knowledge bases for agents and customers separate.
Plus, when you choose Freshdesk, you’ll get access to more than just knowledge base software. You will also gain.
– An email channel
– A phone channel
– A social channel
– A chat channel
And that’s just with the free package. Paid plans include even more helpful help desk features, such as
– Ticket Templates
– Custom Email Servers
– Time Tracking
– Custom Domain Mapping
– Custom Agent Roles
– Skill-Based Ticket Assignment
– CSS Customization
Find a complete feature comparison list of all available plans here. If you want to build the best knowledge base possible, there are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Knowledge Base
Everybody makes mistakes. But you should avoid making the following errors when creating your knowledge base if you want to get started on the right foot.
Not Making Content Easy to Recycle
Explaining the same thing over and over again gets tiresome. Make your agents’ lives easier by writing content that’s easy to recycle and link into ticket responses. Explain each feature in detail in all of your knowledge base articles. Then, link to those specific articles every time that topic comes up.
Then if the feature ever changes, you’ll only have to update one article instead of tracking down a handful of them. You also need to make your content easy to move around. One way to do that is to write in Markdown.
Jess Byrne of Zapier says, “We write in Markdown at Zapier, using asterisks for italics and brackets for links. Markdown makes it easy to write in plain text and then turn it into rich text or HTML when needed.
You could write in HTML, but it’s difficult to read through on its own—and rich text is unreliable, so you won’t be certain it’ll look the same in your help center as it does on your computer.” Don’t be afraid to use visual aids to make your content easier to understand, either.
Failing to Use Visual Aids and Multimedia
As much as 65% of the population are visual learners. And visual aids help to improve learning by a staggering 400%. For those reasons, it’s always good to include more than just text in all of your knowledge base articles. Experiment with video tutorials, GIFs, pictures, and diagrams to give customers a visual of what you’re saying.
Try apps like Skitch or Preview to add additional instructions to your images or draw attention to specific elements, as Drip does in their knowledge base. Another rookie mistake is to assume that creating a knowledge base is a one-and-done project.
Never Updating the Knowledge Base
It can be easy to assume that once you’ve created knowledge base articles about your product or service, you won’t need to update them for a long time. But the truth of the matter is that a knowledge base needs to be continually reviewed and updated as your company, products, and features change.
If a customer finds the article they need, follows every step, and then finds out that the information is outdated, they won’t be very pleased. That’s why you need to update your support site with every new product release, process change, or feature that you introduce.
The team at Gluru says, “…you need to ensure that your team constantly updates its KB to reflect any new ‘trending’ queries that they may be receiving on a weekly/monthly basis.
“For example, if you found that you received over 100 queries over the past month about how to renew a contract with your company, you could then compose an all-encompassing blog post or article that clearly highlights how to do this.
“That way, when future customers have similar queries, they should be able to proactively find the answer on your website, thus deflecting the need to contact a human agent.”
Don’t forget to use your knowledge base when you’re trying to onboard customers, too.
Forgetting to Use Your Knowledge Base for Customer Onboarding
Your knowledge base isn’t just useful for existing customers. You can use it to teach new customers, as well. You’re probably already sending new customers a welcome email when they join you. Why not send them some knowledge base articles on how to get started within those same emails?
Give users short explainer videos and links to relevant articles to keep your ticket volume low. SEMrush includes links and information about all of their features in their welcome email.
Pipefy adds in simple hyperlinks to relevant guides, templates, and features in onboarding messages. Do the same to complete some preventative support and use your knowledge base to its maximum potential.
If you want to take your customer support to the next level, a knowledge base is an absolute must. A knowledge base is the central hub of information that your customers can use to find answers to their support questions on their own. This can be information about anything from billing, to product features, to technical troubleshooting.
Data shows that half of all customers want to solve support issues themselves, and a knowledge base is a perfect way to let them do that. It’s easy to create a knowledge base in Freshdesk or with a similar knowledge management tool.
To choose knowledge base topics, uncover the recurring issues that your customers have. Which support questions are you receiving the most? Write articles to solve those issues. Structure the knowledge base by putting the articles that answer the top questions right on your knowledge base landing page to make those topics even easier to find.
Categorize articles into different sections to make it easy for customers to find what they need exactly when they need it. Include a search bar, integrate your live chat with your knowledge base, cross-link articles, and don’t forget to include essential keywords and tags that you want to rank for.
If you’re searching for some affordable and effective knowledge base softwares, try Mojo Helpdesk, UserEcho, or our favorite option, Freshdesk. To create the best knowledge base possible, there are a few mistakes you should try to avoid from the get-go.
Avoid not making content easily recyclable, failing to use visual aids and graphics, forgetting to update your knowledge base, or not using the knowledge base to onboard customers.
Building a kickass knowledge base doesn’t have to be hard. Get started today to save your team from the growing pile of support tickets they deal with each day and to give your customers the peace of mind that comes with self-service support.