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How to Create a Customer-Centric Knowledge Base

by Katie Joll · Updated Mar 16 2020

Your organization is always being judged on how well it provides customer service.

Having a good knowledge base is another tool in your belt to offer a high level of service. The key is that you need to create a customer-centric knowledge base!

A mistake that many companies make is to have a knowledge base that is hard for customers to find or difficult for them to use. The idea is that they should quickly be able to find the answers they are looking for – this is the essence of a good experience for them.

What goes into a customer-centric knowledge base? Here's why you need one and some thoughts to consider:

Free download: Get our tips for setting standards for your knowledge base here

Benefits of a good knowledge base

There are many benefits to having a good customer knowledge base in place. Here are just a few:

A knowledge base can help your customer service agents

There are a couple of ways knowledge bases can help your customer service agents. First, it can help them to be more productive by managing the volume of queries they have to directly deal with. Also, the knowledge base can be a great way to provide answers to customers themselves.

When customers are able to look for answers without contacting anyone, it will naturally reduce the load on your agents. In fact, many customers would prefer to use self-service options.

A good knowledge base is also a great way to give consistent information to your customers or users. Agents can respond to queries by linking to the appropriate piece in the knowledge base, so all customers are getting the same information, eliminating the risk of varying information between agents.

Knowledge bases can help with employee onboarding

There's often a lot to know during onboarding! A knowledge base can provide that information quickly and easily. It's a way to get people to do some self-study so that the burden on other team members to train is a bit less.

Knowledge bases can keep customers happy

Most people really dislike having to wait for answers to their questions; a knowledge base can be their way around waiting. People love to be able to independently resolve their questions without having to get in touch with customer service agents.

In a sense, the consistency that a knowledge base delivers helps keep customers happy too. They know what to expect from your customer service and that the information they are getting is reliable.

Knowledge bases help you to deliver timely answers to your end-users

Knowledge bases can give SEO-juice

A side benefit of a good knowledge base is that it adds vital SEO signals to your website. It's the same principle as content marketing - every time you publish a new article you're creating highly relevant content for Google.

This can help to drive search traffic to your website and improve your ranking on Google search.

The elements of a good knowledge base

Not all knowledge bases are built equally. In fact some may inhibit the customer experience by the way they are designed. Some common mistakes include:

The bottom line of creating a customer-centric knowledge base is that the customer reaction should be “this is excellent and I want to use it,” rather than “what the **** is this?!”

Here are some other key elements to consider:

Your knowledge base should be intelligent

Auto-suggest options are a great way to help out both your end-users and your support agents. Basically, these work by pulling a list of suggestions as the person types a query in a search bar.

This can be a case for machine learning algorithms helping to power your knowledge base. Over time, the algorithm “learns” what people mean when they type in different terms. A good algorithm can pick up on context from the word combination that is used and suggest relevant results.

Your knowledge base should be easily searchable

This might sound like an obvious point, but the key here is that your search bar should work! There are too many knowledge bases where the search function is poor. Perhaps it doesn't pull up relevant results or it requires a very specific set of keywords to be typed in to give a result.

Do yourself (and you agents, and your end-users!) a favor and test the search function before sending it live. You want to ensure that relevant results are coming up for searches. Having a third-party test it is a great idea because they'll often come up with words you may not have thought to search.

Another thing you can do to help the search function is to ensure that article titles are as close to what people might type into the search bar as you can get them. Avoid jargon that won't be commonly used - instead come up with the most likely keywords.

Your knowledge base should be well-organized

A well-organized knowledge base helps with that search function and for any users who want to search by other means. For example, tagging and categorizing topics isn't a “nice to have,” it's essential. Doing so helps the person who perhaps isn't too sure what they're looking for so they want to browse by category. It also helps direct your search function.

Having your knowledge base split into logical sections can also be helpful. For example, perhaps everything a new user needs to know about your software is kept under “getting started,” while any known issues might be kept under “troubleshooting X.” It should be easy for people to skim down a page and find the section they'll need.

You should monitor knowledge base analytics

As your knowledge base develops, monitoring your analytics is a great practice to follow regularly. This helps you to understand what people are searching for so you can make any keyword tweaks or additions to articles as-needed. You should be able to see whether people got any results for the terms they searched for.

Your analytics will also tell you which topics or articles are the most popular, potentially indicating areas to spend more time on. You may also find clues as to new topics to include from the search queries people use.

Your knowledge base should be kept up-to-date

One thing that really frustrates users is outdated information kept in the knowledge base. Creating a knowledge base should never be a “one and done” exercise. Your knowledge base should be a living entity, updated often. This means any time changes are made within the company, checking and updating the knowledge base should be an assigned task.

It's also important to monitor the questions that customer support agents are asked, in case these indicate a topic you need to cover in your knowledge base. Jitbit has some handy tools that will publish existing tickets as articles, saving you some time!

Your knowledge base should be appropriately accessible

In most cases where the knowledge base is intended as a business to end-user resource, it is appropriate to keep the content public. Sometimes though, you might want certain topics to remain private, or even to limit access to certain users.

For example, let's say there are knowledge base articles that only pertain to end-users that have system admin access for a certain software. Some tasks described in the knowledge base might not be appropriate for all to see, so you would restrict access by user.

Download: Setting quality standards for your knowledge base

Final thoughts

A knowledge base should never simply be thrown together – it should be carefully constructed with the end user in mind.

Your knowledge base can prove to be a real asset in terms of providing quick, accessible customer service. It can help your agents by reducing the number of tickets they need to deal with directly and by providing them with a consistent resource to use.

Always monitor your knowledge base and keep it updated often. This will ensure it stays useful and relevant.