How to Create a Knowledge Base: Step by Step Guide

How to Create a Knowledge Base

Are your agents drowned in an ocean of tickets, struggling to come up and breathe? And is this degrading your customer support quality and, by that extension, customer satisfaction? 

If yes, it’s about time you chucked those old traditional ways and explored new horizons. 

Time has changed, and so have your customers. 

While getting a response in an hour or so was acceptable till some time back, today’s empowered customers expect prompt support. 

Even a little late is too late!

So, how can you quench customers’ craving for fast and smart support that’s 24×7 accessible?  

By creating a knowledge base. An informative knowledge base is a self-service platform that gives customers the superpower to solve most of their problems independently, without seeking support from external sources. 

This guide will take you through the essentials of creating a robust knowledge base from scratch. 

It’s time to give a 360° turn to your customer support!

Why is Knowledge Base Indispensable in This Day and Age? 

A self-service knowledge base software is a substantial addition to your customer support. From easing your agents’ work to keeping customers delighted, this online platform offers more benefits than you can imagine. 

Below are the top benefits you can expect from a well-built knowledge base.

1. Slashes Support Ticket Volume

This is a significant benefit of creating a knowledge base. As customers start using the online platform for problem-solving, the chance of customers raising tickets, at least for common issues, reduces tremendously. Low ticket volume means a decrease in agents’ workload and more time for serious customer concerns that need urgent attention.

Read more: How to Reduce Support Tickets With Knowledge Base

2. Delights Customers With Uninterrupted Support

Self-service is fast becoming the most preferred route for support, given the heightened convenience, freedom, and flexibility it arms customers with. So much so that a surprising 77% of customers in the U.S. alone use self-service portals for support, proving the popularity self-service is garnering from people across the globe. 

Why Customer Service is Important

Being a self-help platform, a knowledge base ensures that customers receive an uninterrupted experience across devices every time they are looking for answers or browsing the content for gaining information. The quicker the help, the higher the customer delight!

3. Decreases Agent Workload & Improves Productivity

With the number of tickets going down, agents are relieved from answering the same questions repeatedly. With a customer service knowledge base, customers are no longer dependent on agents for basic problems.

 It’s only the complex issues that a knowledge base can’t handle, reach your support team. This means agents have less workload and only serious customer complaints to take care of. Besides, since a knowledge base can also be used internally by agents, it helps them answer customer questions faster. No more scrambling for information while the customer is on hold!

4. Enables Anytime, Anywhere, Multi-Device Customer Support

Time, place, and device – nothing is a constraint with self-service. Being a cloud-based platform, a knowledge base can be accessed at a time, place, and from a device of customers’ convenience. Easy and instant accessibility makes problem-solving a breeze as customers are not bound by time, place, or device. They have the freedom to solve problems at their convenience, whether it’s 3 in the morning or eight at night.

5. Boosts Internal Knowledge Sharing & Employee Productivity

A knowledge base can also be set up as an internal platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Employees spend most of their workdays on trivial tasks such as finding company information, seeking assistance from colleagues for minor tasks, and digging data from emails, etc. This is both time-consuming and productivity sapping. 

With an internal knowledge platform, employees can collaborate to share wisdom and access company knowledge in a click. When less time is spent scrambling for information, productivity and performance improvements. 

This video reveals more information about an internal knowledge base.

Knowledge Base Types

Broadly speaking, a knowledge base (KB) can be of two types – public and private. While the public KB is for external audiences, i.e., your customers, the private one is meant for internal use by your employees. Let’s dive deeper and learn more about the various types of knowledge base you can build.

1. Internal Knowledge Base

An internal knowledge base acts as a company-wide information resource comprising information about your work policies, work processes, products, service, meeting agendas, and a lot more. It reduces the hassles of emails, shoulder taps, calls, and hopping from one document to the other in search of information. This helps employees focus more on the work they do, thus improving their productivity and performance. 

Read More: How to Create an Internal Knowledge Base

2. Customer-Facing Knowledge Base

As mentioned above, a knowledge base can be set up as a public platform for customer self-service. A customer-facing knowledge base is built on the same idea. It includes every information customers need before, during, and even after the purchase process. With FAQs, how-to videos, general help content, and detailed articles, this knowledge platform provides customers with actionable solutions right at their fingertips. The aim of a customer-facing knowledge base is to help customers self-resolve issues and be less dependent on your support team. 

3. Personal Knowledge Base

A personal knowledge base is for your personal use. It can be used to store your research, experiences, observations, to-do list – almost any information that you need to work better. Whether you are working on the initial draft of a book or creating a marketing strategy for a new product, you can store your research work and insights gathered from different sources in this document. 

4. Online Wiki 

An online wiki is a comprehensive information resource that’s meant majorly for internal use by employees. It has critical company information related to your history, vision, mission, workplace code of conduct, policies, and other information that’s neatly organized and easily searchable. Online wiki is great for employee onboarding and internal knowledge sharing. 

Read More: How to Create a Corporate Wiki for Your Business

5. Online Manuals & Guides

Online manuals and guides help customers make the most of your products and fix issues on their own. They explain the products from start to finish, including their features, use cases, troubleshooting tips, installation process – almost everything that customers need to use the product successfully.

Watch this video to learn the tips and tricks of creating user manuals.

Characteristics of an Ideal Knowledge Base

Before creating a knowledge base, you must have a clear idea of the elements that constitute an ideal knowledge base. Below are some of the key characteristics a powerful knowledge base has: 

✅ Accessibility

An ideal knowledge base is easily accessible across multiple devices and browsers. Customers can solve issues anytime and anywhere at their convenience. 

✅ Searchability

The primary aim of a knowledge base is to make problem-solving a matter of a few minutes. That can happen only when a knowledge base is highly searchable. Ideally, a knowledge base should have a Google-like search function that delivers exact article suggestions as someone types a question in the search bar. 

✅ Design

A good knowledge base design plays a great role in providing a positive customer support experience. For a knowledge base, an appealing design is as important as reliable information.

✅ Specificity

Assuming that customers know everything and you don’t need to explain a topic to the core is a big mistake. A powerful knowledge base scores high on specificity, covering every topic from start to finish.

✅ Simplicity

There is a popular saying – “It’s hard to be simple.” That’s true as simplicity looks simple but requires a great amount of hard work. An ideal knowledge base has even the most complex topics explained using simple language, thus giving customers a phenomenal self-service experience. 

Keep these elements in mind while writing content, and you will be surprised at the quality of the output. 

Now, it’s finally time to explore the various steps required to set up a knowledge base.

How to Create a Knowledge Base in Seven Simple Steps

Something as comprehensive as a knowledge base can be created easily in just a few steps. Let’s learn how. 

Something as comprehensive as a knowledge base can be created easily in just a few steps. Let’s learn how.

1. Know Your Customers  

Let’s suppose you are creating a customer-support knowledge base. Before beginning with the article writing process, let’s learn about customers’ pain points and the challenges they confront regularly. 

Talk to your customer-facing teams – support, sales, or even marketing to discover the most common questions customers ask and the product areas that trouble them the most. Go through previous customer-agent conversations, listen to recorded calls, and look at the tickets resolved in the past. 

This will give you a complete idea of the kind of assistance customers need. Creating knowledge base content will get so much easier once you know what your customers exactly need.

2. Develop a Strong Structure

Create a logical knowledge base structure that would keep the content organized and easy to search for customers. A home page giving a glimpse of the topics covered inside is the first step in the right direction. UNLEASHED follows a similar format.

Unleased Help center example

UNLEASHED’s help center gives a bird’s eye view of the content covered inside. Click on the desired topic, and you will be instantly transferred to the relevant section in the knowledge base. 

That was all about the home page. Speaking of articles, they should be put into relevant categories and subcategories. Ideally, there should be a table of contents on the left side, showing various topics divided into different sections. No matter how comprehensive it is, navigating through the knowledge base is a smooth sail when the structure is right. 

Besides the structure, what’s equally important is design. The design of a knowledge base shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can have a lasting impact on readers. Remember that design is not just about adding your company’s name and logo. It’s much more than that. Knowledge base design focuses on the tiniest details like fonts, colors, and even the themes, headers, footers. 

The objective here is to impart an appealing look to the knowledge base that feels friendly to customers. As soon as customers enter your knowledge base, they should feel welcome, for which a good design is essential.

3. Write Knowledge Base Articles

Once you have the structure and design ready, kickstart the writing process. 

The rule of thumb while writing a knowledge base article is to keep it simple and straightforward. The articles don’t have to be extremely long and complicated. Keep them short and sweet, putting as much information as required. Give each article a powerful headline that explains the topic well. Write the content clearly so that customers walk away with valuable information. 

Here are a few guidelines to create engaging content: 

  • Don’t beat around the bush 
  • Be simple and descriptive 
  • Write clear headings 
  • Add bullets where necessary 
  • Break down long paragraphs into small, easy-to-digest content pieces

Here’s an example of a well-structured knowledge base with most of the above elements.

knowledge base article structure in Mimosa help center4. Add Visuals at the Right Places

A knowledge base without visuals is like a book without pictures – dull and drab. 

Adding helpful media at the right places is an excellent strategy to make your knowledge base engaging to read. Images and videos work well for demonstrating steps and explaining processes. This helps customers get a grasp of what you are saying and implement the same in less time. 

There is another benefit of combining text, images, and videos. As different customers learn differently, this is the best approach to ensure that a knowledge base has relevant content for those who like to read as well as those who learn by watching. 

Visuals not only give the much-needed punch to your knowledge base but also make for engaging self-service experiences customers are bound to love. More so because humans grasp visual content 60,000 times quicker than plain text.

5. Work on Its Searchability & SEO

The next important thing to take into account while creating a knowledge base is its searchability and search engine optimization. Both these are crucial aspects to make information gathering easy and improve online visibility. 

Customers visit your knowledge base for a reason. Self-service is known to solve problems faster than any other means of support. Powerful search is therefore indispensable for a knowledge base to be really valuable for customers. 

Add relevant keywords and tags to the content to make them easy to discover. Ensure that important keywords are present in article headlines as well. Besides, the knowledge base should have a prominent search bar to give customers quick article suggestions as soon as a keyword or question is typed. 

HighQ shows how a powerful search function works:

Create a searchable knowledge base

Next, it’s crucial to excel at the art of SEO. Optimizing the knowledge base for search engines significantly increases its probability to show up in the top search results if not for all, then at least for specific keywords. Since customers most of the time Google information, it’s a great opportunity you shouldn’t miss. 

Configure your knowledge base to make it suitable for search engines by doing just a few things right: 

  • Add meta tags, meta titles, and meta descriptions
  • Inter-link related knowledge base articles
  • Create descriptive page URLs
  • Target the right keywords

What’s even more important here is to create high-quality content. The edge that good content can give you, nothing else can. Help Google crawl through your knowledge base easily and position it in the top search results. This will allow existing customers to quickly find your knowledge base on Google and will also attract new people to the site. 

Read More: The Ultimate Knowledge Base SEO Guide for 2022

6. Review, Revise, & Publish

Done with all the basic stuff? It’s time to finally hit the ground running. 

Just one click, and your knowledge base will be live. 

But, wait. There is something left to do before you publish – reviewing the content for any errors. This is a continuous process that should be carried out while writing articles. 

A workflow approval system wherein writers set the status articles based on their stage is good to follow. For example, articles that are in progress can be marked as ‘In Progress’, and those that are complete but not reviewed can be marked as ‘Ready for Review’. Writers can also create a custom status asking colleagues or managers for contribution and review.

Knowledge base article status

Once the knowledge base passes through the review process, publish it. The best part is customers can use the knowledge base online, download it as PDF and ebook, or use it in print form – whatever suits them. 

7. Measure Effectiveness & Improve Performance

A knowledge base cannot be static. It has to be improved and updated from time to time to meet the changing customer needs. 

The first step is to measure how successful the knowledge base is. This will bring into the spotlight the areas that are doing well and those that need to be worked on. There is only one thing that can help you in this process, and that is AI-powered insights. 

Modern tools come with built-in reports that provide helpful insights into where your knowledge base stands in terms of effectiveness and performance. The reports reveal everything happening beneath the surface, giving you a glimpse into:

  • Article upvotes and downvotes 
  • Keywords delivering inaccurate results 
  • Broken or inactive links along with the page titles 
  • Poorly rated articles, and much more. 

Use these insights to find out answers to questions like: 

  • What do customers like and dislike the most in the knowledge base? 
  • What questions do they regularly search for but don’t find the answers to? 
  • Which articles are the most engaging? 
  • Which content is obsolete and needs to be improved or changed? 

Once you get the answers to these questions, it will be easier to improve each article and the overall knowledge base performance. Keep a constant check on new products, feature rollouts, common questions asked by customers, and tickets raised in the past to create helpful content and update the existing one. 

The aim here is to create a knowledge base that improves as your customer needs change and your company grows. 

Watch this video to learn how reports help in improving your knowledge base.

Knowledge Base Best Practices

Ready with your knowledge base? But is it that wonderful that you initially thought it would be? 

If not, here’s what you are missing out on!

Creating a knowledge base is just half the job done. For the knowledge base to leave the right impact on customers, it should be unique, remarkable, and brimming with information.

These best practices offer a sure-shot way to take your knowledge base to the next level: 

  • Create a knowledge base that adjusts to different screen sizes and works beautifully across devices.
  • The structure and design of the knowledge base should be on point.
  • Branding shows the knowledge base is your belonging. It helps customers connect with the content and your brand. So, don’t miss out on that. 
  • Improve and update the knowledge base regularly to keep it relevant and fresh always. 
  • Keep the language simple, jargon-free, and to the point. 
  • Visuals make a knowledge base even more powerful. Do add them. 
  • Do not assume. Cover all topics from start to finish. 
  • Knowledge base content should be easy to skim and read.
  • Arrange topics in a logical order to make information search easier
  • Create helpful content that can quickly solve customer problems

Knowledge Base Templates & Examples

Wondering what a robust knowledge base looks like? 

By now, you should have a good idea of how to create a knowledge base, the benefits it provides, and the best practices you must follow. It’s time to see things in action with the help of a few examples.

1. Mimosa’s Knowledge Base

mimosa

Mimosa’s knowledge base is simple and comprehensive. It’s brilliantly designed and follows a single color scheme throughout. Its home page has a table of contents, a huge search bar, and three sections on documentation, user guides, and product specifications. Mimosa has done a smart job of placing these critical sections right on the home page.

2. Unleashed

Unleased Help center example

When it comes to a clean and simple interface, Unleashed has set the standard high. Its strong search system, detailed home page, and specificity across all articles are commendable. An interesting feature of this knowledge base is the special mention of FAQs on its home page. Unleashed has listed all its FAQs – top 10, purchase FAQs, inventory FAQs, sales FAQs, and more, at the home page to make problem-solving easy for customers.

3. Leap

The next best knowledge base example is Leap. It’s accurate, comprehensive, and well-designed. A major highlight of this knowledge is the ‘discussions’ section, where customers can ask questions and get instant responses. Another striking feature of Leap’s knowledge base is the ‘Announcement’ section on the home page. The company keeps posting the latest happenings in this section to keep its customers informed.

Leap Knowledge Base Design

4. Manage Engine

ManageEngine offers another great example of a compelling knowledge base. It is accurate, crisp, and makes excellent use of images and videos. The best part is that it has a strong search function, structured articles, and a lot of breathing space in the articles. Go through its knowledge base, and you will realize that it doesn’t overwhelm you with long and complex paragraphs. Content is arranged properly and provides a smooth search experience to customers.

ManageEngine

Want to create something similar? Do check out our Knowledge Base Templates.

Watch this video to unlock the secret behind building a stunning knowledge base.

Best Knowledge Base Software You Must Consider

How your knowledge base will turn out depends largely on the tool you choose to use. While traditional tools lacking in good features can lead to a below-average output, modern tools help you build a knowledge base that meets your expected quality standards. 

Depending on what your objectives are, pick a knowledge base software that has all the features you need and offers the best bang for the bucks you invest. If you want something simple yet powerful, ProProfs Knowledge Base is the right choice, but if you are looking for a tool specifically for your internal knowledge base, Confluence might work well. 

Think of the top things you want in a tool. Shortlist a few tools based on these criteria. Compare their features, pricing, and functionality, and then choose the right knowledge base tool that fits your needs.

Read More: 20 Best Knowledge Management Software & Tools

It’s Time to Take the Plunge

A knowledge base is central to a customer support process. On the one hand, it helps customers self-serve, and on the other, it allows agents to provide quick and quality responses. 

Now that you have learned about the benefits it provides and the best practices that should be followed, it’s time to go all in and kickstart the process of creating a knowledge base. Start by understanding customer needs and pain points, as this will help you craft better content. Develop a structure and curate the information you want to add to the self-help platform. 

Add media to make your articles engaging and keep improving the knowledge base to provide excellent customer support. 

Most importantly, get the right software that makes your journey of creating the knowledge base nothing more than a cakewalk.

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and Apruve. 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.