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Customer Service Knowledge Base: A Beginner’s Guide

In a parallel world, customer service would mean keeping customers happy with top-notch experiences. 

But reality reveals a not-so-good story. 

56% of customers abandon brands due to poor experiences. The reasons for this can be many, from long hold time to not receiving the expected solutions. 

There are two things that today’s empowered customers crave – speed and quality. 

Building a customer service knowledge base is a sure-shot way to achieve this and much more. It gives customers what they really want – speedy responses and quality support with minimum effort. 

Learn what a customer service knowledge base is, how you can create one using the best knowledge base software, and also explore some impeccable best practices to take your knowledge base from average to awesome in this blog.

What is a Customer Service Knowledge Base? 

A customer service knowledge base is a self-service resource comprising frequently asked questions, how-to guides, video tutorials, and other helpful content for both common and complex customer issues. Being entirely cloud-based, customers can easily access this portal from their devices to get instant assistance, saving them from the hassles of calls and emails.

This knowledge base has useful articles supported by images and videos related to a company’s products, instructions on how to use them, and troubleshooting tips to make the journey of working with the product easier for customers. 

Why is a Customer Service Knowledge Base Essential for Your Business? 

Many businesses are still unsure of the importance of a customer service knowledge base. 

Understand that quality support at high speed with the least effort is what customers want. And there is only one thing that meets all these three requirements of quality, speed, and convenience: a self-service knowledge base. 

In fact, self-service is currently the most preferred option by customers when they need help.

Research reveals that 81% of customers today attempt problem-solving on their own before contacting a live company representative. 

Another research shows that self-service is likely to witness a revamp with the onset of customer bots. This means zero effort on the customers’ part as the bots will be doing all the heavy lifting of finding answers, raising tickets, etc. 

Since customer support is getting better and better with every passing day, you’ve to take steps today to be prepared for an even more challenging tomorrow.

A customer facing knowledge base not only helps you meet but also surpass customer expectations for fast, quality, and superior support experience. Besides, an interactive knowledge base with forums and chatbot empowers customers and gives them self-reliance that they can be on their own. 

Benefits You Can Glean From a Customer Service Knowledge Base

A customer service knowledge base can bring you more benefits than you could ever imagine. Besides delighting customers with seamless self-service experiences, the knowledge base also helps in agent productivity and generating website traffic. 

Dive in to learn about the attractive benefits of a customer service knowledge base.

1. Helps Customers Help Themselves

With most customers preferring self-help over calls and emails, building a customer service knowledge base is the best thing you can do. Consisting of how-to articles, videos, and guides, this knowledge platform guides customers throughout their journey with your product. Customers can discover answers to their questions on their own, with little to no assistance from your support staff. This makes them more confident and keeps the frustration at bay. 

2. Brings Down Your Support Tickets

The next best thing about a customer service knowledge base is its ability to reduce your support tickets significantly. Countless tickets staring at you from the screen is a regular thing in an agent’s work life. With a fully functional customer help center, most of the queries are resolved at the customers’ end, leaving your help desk with only complex issues which a knowledge base cannot handle. 

Read More: Reduce Support Tickets With Self-Service Knowledge Base

3. Turns Your Customer Service Team More Productive and Efficient

Productivity takes a hard hit when tickets are streaming in endlessly, and timelines are short. By reducing the ticket volume, a self-service knowledge base allows agents more space and time to work on difficult customer problems requiring more focus and involvement. 

Besides, it saves agents from the hard work of scrambling for information in scattered documents while the customer is waiting for a response. Your support team can instantly lookup for product details and troubleshooting tips in the internal customer support knowledge base and provide customers with quick resolution to their problems.  

4. Gets You More Traffic

What do customers do when they have a problem? They Google it. We all do that, don’t we? 

If your knowledge base comes in the top search results, the chances of customers using it increase substantially. To attain this level of online visibility, doing your SEO right is important. A knowledge base that is optimized for search engines not only elevates your visibility, it also brings you more traffic, widens your reach, and improves your overall ranking. 

If Google loves your knowledge base content, customers are likely to find it helpful, which will eventually turn your brand into a domain expert. 

Read More: The Ultimate Knowledge Base SEO Guide for 2022

5. Builds Customer Trust

Giving customers the right information and the right amount of information helps to build trust and loyalty. Customers can blindly trust your content without wasting time cross-checking facts on Google. Ultimately what matters with self-service is how convenient it is. The more quality content and hassle-free experience you offer, the more inclined customers will be to use your self-service portal. This promotes better relationships in the long run. 

Why is a customer-facing Knowledge Base Crucial for Business Success?

What is the ultimate goal of any business? 

Whether it is a multi-million dollar company or a growing start-up, there is only one thing that businesses aspire for – customer delight. Working on the experiences customers receive increases customer delight, which eventually translates into business success. 

This means customer experience is the ultimate game-changer. 

A customer service knowledge base is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create memorable experiences that make customers want to stick with you. 

Let’s see how. 

In the year 2019, 38% of U.S. customers preferred digital channels over emails which is slightly less than those using Phones for support. Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that the dominance of digital channels is growing and will continue to do so in the coming years.

U.S. customers preferred digital channels over emails Building a customer support knowledge base is a smart step in the right direction. With a full-fledged knowledge base, you can tap the rising number of digital customers and satiate their cravings for convenient, hassle-free, and 24×7 support services. 

In return, you get an army of happy customers who show their loyalty by sticking to your organization and singing praises about you among their friends and family. 

Do you know how impactful positive word of mouth can be? 

72% of customers share their happy experiences with six or more people. This means your efforts reach far and wide, thus increasing the chances of more people joining your business. If this cycle continues, your business is bound to propel forward.

How to Build a Customer Service Knowledge Base Your Customers Will Actually Use

Building a customer service knowledge base is all a matter of using your research, writing, and designing skills in the best possible way. These steps will get you started right away. 

1. Decide Which Topics to Cover in Your Knowledge Base

Deciding which topics to add is a challenge. For a knowledge base to be a helpful resource that your customers actually use, it should have all the necessary information. 

The first step to build a customer support knowledge base is deciding the topics you want to cover in detail. These can’t be any random topics but carefully thought topics that help customers solve their problems. 

Talk to your support team to learn about the frequent questions customers ask. Ask your team about the kind of queries received over calls, emails as well as social media. 

Once you have this information, it would be easier to create help topics for your knowledge base. But if the topics are more than you expected, say over 150, you will have to put some effort into prioritizing. 

It’s not that difficult. The issues repeated multiple times are the ones troubling most customers, so you should add them first. Don’t think about including everything in the knowledge base right in the first go. Add the most critical and urgent issues first and when your knowledge base is live, keep creating additional help articles based on customer queries. 

2. Determine the Structure of Your Knowledge Base

Regardless of how many articles you have, structuring the knowledge base is essential for an exemplary user experience. After all, no customer would want to be left in a reservoir of help articles that they can’t make any sense of. 

Keep the structure simple and clean so that customers can navigate to their desired topic in no more than a few clicks. Create broad collections or categories where you can put all topics into. These categories will be different for different businesses. 

For example, a SaaS company might have categories like – “Getting started with the product,” “How to use the product,” etc., and a travel company might have sections on – “flight cancellations,” “Flight Booking Issues,” “Refunds,” etc. 

Second, create a standard architecture for all articles. The articles should start with the basic or most critical information – like an introduction to the topic. Then, it should jump on to the detailed, how-to sections. 

Such guidelines will ensure consistency across articles even when multiple writers work on your knowledge base.

3. Establish Team Roles for Content Creation & Management

If you think writing content is the responsibility of a single person, think again. Will your knowledge base be of desired quality if only one person is at the helm of the content creation process?

Absolutely not. There will be errors – quite a lot of them, lack of insights, and eventually a knowledge base that is far away from what customers expect. 

Ideally, you should ask experts across teams to work under one roof as one big, unified team to build and manage the knowledge base. Allow them to bring their top skills and unique knowledge to the table, work on different areas – writing, editing, and managing, to build a customer service knowledge base of stellar quality. 

roles and settings in workflow

For example, key members of the support team can write articles on common customer issues, and those from the product team can check the accuracy of the product-related information. Some can take charge of editing the content, and others can manage the activities of other members. 

Working collaboratively towards a common goal will not only speed up the exercise but will also bring impeccable results. 

4. Vet the Content to Spot Errors

Another important step in the process is content review. 

A proper review and approval process is necessary to ensure that the most accurate and updated content goes live. This is where individual roles and responsibilities come into play. 

When writers work on articles, they can set the status as – Ready for Review, once the articles are complete. Editors, on the other hand, can check all such articles for errors and inaccuracies. Besides, writers can also request reviews or contributions from people outside the team, thus ensuring a high level of content quality. Once articles are fully reviewed and approved, publish them.

workflow flow status

Add your knowledge base to a place on your website where customers can easily find it. Maybe add it in the ‘contact us section or make it a part of your home page. A knowledge base that’s prominently displayed on the website brings many benefits. First, customers can spot it without putting in extra effort, and second, it gets easy for search engines to crawl and index your help articles. 

5. Maintain Your Knowledge Base

Being a customer-facing portal, a knowledge base has to be constantly improved and maintained. 

You can’t just create a customer support knowledge base and then forget about it. Outdated self-service content is a big NO. If you are creating something to help customers, ensure that the goal is achieved. 

Constant improvement is, therefore, the way forward. Measure how your knowledge base is performing, which articles customers like and which are the ones that have room for improvement. 

Keep a check on the keywords or topics customers are searching for but not getting the answers to. This will help you identify new article ideas and spot articles that need improvement. 

Another way is to look at the tickets your support team gets regularly. Customer queries can change over time so the article was written, say a year before, might not serve the purpose today. Keep an eye on the current customer queries and create new knowledge base articles on them. 

Remember that an excellent knowledge base is one that is constantly updated and improved for more relevance and clarity.

Let’s now unearth some actionable best practices to further improve your knowledge base. 

Best Practices for Phenomenal Knowledge Base Performance

How to get your knowledge base right from the get-go? 

These simple and practical customer service knowledge base best practices will set you on the right path. 

1. Templates Can Speed up Your Work. Use Them.

Ready-to-use knowledge base templates can give you the right headstart while building a customer service knowledge base. They come with a predefined structure, including a table of contents, a dedicated space for your company name and logo, article categories, and subcategories. When the structure is already set, all you have to do is focus on writing great content. 

This is how a knowledge base template looks like. 

customer service knowledge base example

2. Clarity is key. Maintain it.

Clarity in your content is key to help customers find what they are looking for and understand it completely. If despite using your knowledge base, customers are confused with the course of action they should be taking, it’s a high alert. 

Keep your content crystal clear by using the simplest language possible and keeping the structure neat. Use actionable headings and sentences. Avoid large blocks of text as they are difficult to digest. Try using bullets where possible. They make the content more scannable. 

Read More: Knowledge Base Best Practices for Customer Success 2022

3. Visuals Increase Engagement. Add them.

When written text is combined with relevant images and videos in the knowledge base, it leaves a better impact on customers. Learning and problem-solving improve as customers have the opportunity to learn by reading about the processes and watching them in action. 

Visuals also provide a breather from the large chunks of text. Support your knowledge base content with the right visuals and watch your customers solve problems quickly and happily. 

4. 24×7 Self-Service is in Demand. Provide it.

Building a self-service help center is one thing and allowing customers to access it at their convenience is another. 

Customers today prefer self-service resources that help them solve problems on the go, anytime and from anywhere they are. Keep your customer service knowledge base public and ensure that it works smoothly across mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. The text and visuals should fit well in different screen sizes for easy, 24×7 access.

5. Customers Want to be Heard. Take Their Feedback.

Customers want their voices heard and their opinions considered. Assuming what customers like and dislike without asking them about what they feel will only lead to failure. Instead, go ahead and ask customers whether they like your knowledge base articles or not. 

You can add a Yes/No feedback form at the end of each article to collect customer feedback. This will help you understand the usefulness of your content, and you will be better equipped to take meaningful actions on time.

6. Lightening-Fast Search is a Prerequisite. Provide It.

Who wants to get interrupted again and again in the middle of a search? No one. It is irritating to the level that it can make anyone leave the help site. Search is a key element of a customer service knowledge base that can make or break the customer experience. Develop a search system that’s as powerful as Google’s. The knowledge base software on the market offers a robust search mechanism that displays accurate results matching the customer search query. 

Providing a seamless search experience is key to making problem-solving fast and easy for customers. 

How to Use Your Knowledge Base for Stellar Customer Service

Building a customer service knowledge base is the first step towards achieving customer service excellence. Once you have the knowledge base ready, there is so much more you can do to level up the self-service experience, such as: 

1. Add FAQs to Your Knowledge Base

Identify the top questions that customers ask and create online FAQs based on that. Besides the regular topics about getting started, how-to, and troubleshooting tips, it’s important to include the common questions customers ask along with detailed answers. This makes your knowledge base even more valuable for customer self-service.

2. Connect Your Knowledge Base With Help Desk & Live Chat

Help desk and live chat – both are popular customer support tools. When you connect these with your knowledge base, customers get triple benefits of self-service, chat, and ticketing – literally a 360° support experience. 

For example, if your knowledge base works well with the Help Desk, the tickets customers raise in your knowledge base will directly reach your support team, where they can be easily managed and resolved. The result – a great customer experience

Combining knowledge base and live chat is also a great way to make the support experience better. You can add the links of popular help articles to the chat widget and drive customers to the right article, even before they share their queries with the chat operator. Also, if the knowledge base articles fail to help customers, they can always use the Chat option to get instant help. 

3. Add Feedback Surveys to Your Knowledge Base

Surveys are vital in the customer support process. They give a transparent picture of how customers really feel about your knowledge base. Integrating your knowledge base with a survey tool helps you add different surveys such as NPS, in-app or pop-up surveys to the content. You can even add a sidebar form to help customers contact you when the knowledge base couldn’t give them the right answers. 

These responses reach your teams via email, empowering them to take the necessary steps. 

All these are some additional ways to make your customer service even more impactful and create exceptional experiences for customers. 

Win at Customer Support With a Powerful Knowledge Base

Customers are the lifelines of any business – big or small. So, it is only natural that you want to give your best to keep your customers not just happy but delighted to be associated with your business. 

Building a customer service knowledge base is a cost-effective way to get attractive dividends in the form of increased customer delight and loyalty. Yes, it takes time to build the knowledge base. But once you are through and the results you get later, it’s completely worth the effort. 

You can start the process by identifying the topics to be covered and then move on to giving your knowledge base a good structure, bringing teams together to create content, and reviewing it for any errors. The content you finally publish should be completely error-free. 

When you let customers help themselves, you, in a way, help your business too! Tickets reduce, agents’ workload reduces, and you’ve far more time to devote to challenging customer issues. 

It’s a win-win!

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and SocialPilot. As a customer support specialist at ProProfs, Brayn has been instrumental in building a robust knowledge base and documents that help support executives keep every customer delighted. You can catch up with Brayn on Twitter and LinkedIn.