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What Is a Knowledge Base: Everything You Need to Know

What is a Knowledge Base: What is included in a knowledge base

“We are tired of long call hold time.” 

“Your support team does not provide the right information in one go.”

“We are frustrated with your poor customer service. It feels like you don’t take your customers seriously.” 

Are these concerns forcing your customers to go to your competitors in a click? 

If yes, it’s about time you changed your customer support approach. 

A research report by Microsoft shows that 88% of customers across the globe expect brands to offer a self-service platform. 

This reveals the changing preferences of today’s customers. They are smart, empowered, and want everything in a flash – be it food, clothes, or your company’s support. 

That’s where a knowledge base comes into the picture. It helps you deliver seamless self-service support to your customers, relieving them from the stress of waiting in queues to talk to a representative or waiting for days to get a reply on email or social media. 

This blog aims to give you a clear picture of what is a knowledge base, what are its types, and the benefits it can bring to your business. 

Here you go. 

What is a Knowledge Base

An online knowledge base is a one-stop platform where all your business knowledge can be safely stored and easily accessed. It comprises the critical information your audience needs for solving any bottlenecks they face. 

A knowledge base can be for your external audience – customers or your internal audience, i.e employees. A customer-facing or public knowledge base aims to make customers self-reliant, by helping them solve questions independently. 

On the contrary, an internal or employee-focused knowledge base is designed to help employees find the information they need to do their jobs effectively. 

When built for your customers, a knowledge base should include: 

  • Detailed articles on your products and services
  • Video tutorials to guide customers through the content
  • Training documents
  • Frequently asked questions with detailed answers to each one of them
  • Step-by-step guides, and much more. 

Keeping employees in mind, an internal knowledge base ideally contains the following: 

  • Company policies
  • Code of conduct
  • Internal work processes
  • Departments
  • Projects, clients, and more. 

Different Use Cases of a Knowledge Base

As discussed above, a knowledge base is of two major types – external or customer-facing and internal or employee-focused. 

Whoever your target audience is, you can experiment a lot more with a knowledge base. 

For instance, if your target audience is customers, you can create different kinds of knowledge base, such as: 

Each of these works differently but aims for the same – customer delight. While the product manual covers every single detail about your product – features, design, installation process, etc., FAQs answer the common questions customers have regarding your offerings. 

In the same way, if you are targeting employees, you can create a variety of internal knowledge platforms, such as: 

Whether external or internal, a knowledge base aims to impart the right knowledge that can provide timely support to your customers and employees. 

Why Does Your Business Need a Knowledge Base? 

Now that you know what is a knowledge base, how do you decide whether you should really create one for your business? 

Knowledge, as we all know, is the basis of the decisions we make. The same goes for your customers as well as employees. They need nuggets of information now and then to combat challenges, stay updated, and make the right decisions. 

If you don’t provide this knowledge to your target audience, someone else will! 

A knowledge base is a critical business tool that empowers you to provide on-demand, detailed knowledge to your audience. This boosts their learning, improves problem-solving, and establishes you as a brand that believes in the power of instant access to knowledge. 

Moreover, with self-service solutions becoming imperative to survive in today’s hyper-competitive world, the role of a knowledge base has further fortified. It acts as a key driver to make information-sourcing effortless for your audience. 

It’s time to focus on the benefits of a knowledge base from both customers’ and employees’ perspectives. 

External Knowledge Base – Benefits Uncovered

If there is one thing that today’s customers seek, it is convenience. They expect zero errors, faster and accurate responses, and a hassle-free problem-solving experience. 

What happens when their expectations aren’t met? 

Today’s customers are unforgiving. They can go to any lengths to vent their frustrations – post negative brand reviews on social media, or worst of all, leave you for something better. 

An external knowledge base gives customers what they need right when they need it. It takes help closer to your customers, giving them a seamless support experience. 

Here are the top benefits you can glean from an external knowledge platform. 

1. Controls the endless inflow of tickets

The moment customers struggle with your product or service, they raise tickets. This rising ticket volume is a stress-inducer for your agents, as they have to work on the same customer issues day and night. 

With an external knowledge base, customers get a self-service platform that they can access anytime, anywhere to address their concerns. This ensures that agents focus on only those customer issues that require immediate attention and a hands-on approach. 

The result? Reduced tickets, happy agents, and happier customers. 

2. Help is available 24×7

No matter where your customers live and what time they require your support, an external knowledge base is always at their disposal. This customer-facing, public knowledge platform is indispensable, especially if you cannot afford to have a large support team that works on customer issues day and night. 

Even if you have a big team, having a knowledge base software never hurts. It makes your support services available round the clock to all your customers, regardless of geographical boundaries.

3. Provides an enriching customer experience

A comprehensive knowledge base offers both breadth and depth of information, spanning across topics. Customers can dig into this information to learn about your products, services, or buying process, at their own pace.

So whether they want to understand your offerings from scratch, enhance their knowledge about a feature, or get well-versed with a process a knowledge base gives them an enriching self-service experience at every stage.

4. Boosts traffic to your knowledge base

Creating an external knowledge base and updating it regularly can win Google’s heart. As a reward, Google might show your knowledge base in the top few search results, making it easy for customers to find you even in the crowd. 

Customers will constantly come across your knowledge base on Google. So, every time they search for something related to your offerings, it will position you as the authority in your domain. This, again, will impact your ranking on the SERP (search engine results page). 

Well, this was all about how an external knowledge base can benefit your business. It is now time to turn the coin and look at what’s in store for you when a knowledge base is used internally. 

Read More: 10 Benefits of Knowledge Base You Cannot Ignore

Internal Knowledge Base – Benefits Revealed

You might be questioning yourself, “How can a knowledge base benefit my employees and the internal company operations?”

The answer is simple. A company knowledge base works on the concept of centralized knowledge sharing – making knowledge conveniently available to all your employees. 

It acts as a productivity booster, time-saver, and knowledge-enhancer for your employees. Let’s dive into the details in this section. 

1. No more information silos

With an internal knowledge base, your employees get a platform to share their subject matter expertise, institutional knowledge, and industry insights with everyone. It offers a shared space where your employees’ collective intelligence can be stored, shared, and accessed by anyone and everyone in your organization. No more knowledge hoarding!

2. Productivity shoots up

The faster employees get the knowledge they need, the more effective they will be at work, and the quicker they will be able to make decisions. Imagine having to dig into cluttered folders, unorganized files, and chasing colleagues to get information. It is tedious and frustrating.
An internal knowledge base saves your employees from this daily drudgery. It significantly reduces the time spent searching for information. Less time spent on such tasks means more time given to accomplish goals.

3. Preserves company knowledge

What happens when key employees holding strong experience and in-depth knowledge leave your organization? The valuable knowledge goes away with them, and this is a huge loss for your business. Your internal processes can get affected, as the remaining employees bear the brunt of lost information. 

An internal knowledge platform empowers employees to continuously share their knowledge, experience, observations, and insights. This info can be accessed by everyone, regardless of who leaves your organization. 

Read More: Knowledge Transfer – What it is & How to Achieve it?

4. Streamlines the work of different departments

As discussed earlier, you can have an internal knowledge base of different kinds. For instance, there can be HR documentation for the HR team, a customer support portal for your support staff, and a sales enablement document for your sales staff. 

Each of these internal knowledge platforms makes work easier for your teams. For instance, the customer support portal equips your support agents with the right knowledge, empowering them to instantly answer customer questions via calls, emails, or social media. This means reduced call hold time and increased agent productivity.

Similarly, a knowledge base provides other teams with time-sensitive information, helping them make the right decisions on time. 

For example, when your HR staff needs employee-related data at the time of promotions or when your sales staff needs to pitch a product to your customers. 

These benefits can be achieved when you have a thriving, information-rich knowledge base. All you need is the right software to do that for you. 

With the online market replete with tools that promise a remarkable performance but fail to deliver in reality, how do you choose the right one? 

Let’s find out. 

Bring Home a Knowledge Base Tool That’s Right for You

Confusion ensues when you see the online market brimming with knowledge base tools, each promising better performance than the other. 

How to not get swayed by false promises and choose what’s right for your business? 

Worry not. Here we will be discussing some important features and characteristics that an ideal knowledge base tool must have.

1. Simple & Uncomplicated

Have you heard the quote – “Simplicity is the trademark of genius.”? In a complicated world, it is hard to be simple. So, if you find a simple tool with powerful features, grab it in the first instance. 

Ideally, a knowledge base tool should come with a simple user interface and clean design – both these aspects make for a hassle-free experience. It is essential that your knowledge base software is cloud-based that doesn’t require heavy maintenance. You should be able to log in and get started with the tool right away.

2. Robust Authoring Options

Content forms the heart of a knowledge base. To create killer content, you should have the right knowledge. But you also need to have the right authoring tools to transfer that knowledge from the mind to your knowledge base.  

Ensure that the knowledge base software you choose comes with a document editor, options to upload media files and import word docs, PDF, PPTs, and more. 

Easy Content authoring in customer portal software

3. Powerful Search Mechanism

What use is a knowledge base tool if it cannot help your audience get quick results to their searches? An inadequate and slow search system will defeat the ultimate purpose of building a knowledge base, i.e., to make information-gathering instant and convenient.  

That’s why lookout for this feature while selecting a tool. A Google-like search system shows relevant results when readers search for anything in the search bar. It also allows your audience to run a page-specific or full-site search, helping them find a piece of content or a particular page quickly.

Mimosa Knowledge Base search experience

4. User management, Roles & Permissions

Note that a comprehensive knowledge base, whether internal or external, cannot be created without your team’s collective efforts. You need the assistance and expertise of different individuals to achieve a high-quality knowledge base. 

With this feature, you can add new users and allot them roles and responsibilities that they would fit in. While a few individuals can take charge of the writing work, others can look after the editing part. Those at the higher level can be assigned the role of the administrator so that they can oversee all activities happening in your knowledge base. 

This collaborative working style makes way for valuable inputs from different teams, careful content editing, and seamless content management. 

manage roles and permission

5. Rules & Conditions

A knowledge base can have sensitive information pertaining to your organization or a specific department, which should not be available to everyone. This is a great feature to hide or display content and gain complete authority over what can and cannot be shown to your audience. 

The feature allows you to create rules based on various elements, such as: 

  • Viewing device
  • User group
  • Member group, and more. 

For instance, you can hide or show knowledge base articles if the viewing device is a phone, show client details if the user group is the sales team, or display customer profiles if the user group is the support team. 

These conditions can be applied across your knowledge base, saving you the time and effort to create the same rule multiple times.

6. Translation Capabilities

If your audience is dispersed across geographies, you will need a knowledge base that allows easy translations in multiple languages. To cater to a widely spread audience, pick a tool that can instantly make your knowledge base available in various languages. 

Another reason that makes this feature utterly important is that you don’t have to invest resources and time to translate a knowledge base into every other language. A knowledge base tool can do that easily for you.

Google translate in knowledge base software

7. A Built-in Reporting System

Reports are incredibly effective in updating and improving your knowledge base so as to keep it relevant for your audience. Knowledge base content can get irrelevant or obsolete with time. It’s, therefore, crucial to monitor its performance and give it the right dose of modifications. 

Moreover, reports give you a peek into what readers are searching for, the articles they find helpful and those that don’t serve the purpose, the keywords that don’t deliver the right results, and much more. 

This information can be leveraged to boost the performance of your knowledge base. 

This video provides a detailed explanation of how you can analyze reports and use them to make the best decisions.

8. Smart Integrations

You can enhance the potential of a knowledge base simply by integrating it with other tools. Integrations give you the power of two tools, making your knowledge base even more impactful. 

Look out for a knowledge base tool that teams well with software such as – Salesforce, Slack, Jira, Yammer, Google Analytics, and the like. 

Combine two powerful tools, and the result is bound to be awesome.

Knowledge base integration
Read More: The 20 Best Knowledge Management Software of 2022

Essential Factors That Make a Knowledge Base Tool Usable

Do you know what makes a knowledge base tool usable? What is it that empowers a knowledge base tool to achieve your intended goals? 

Your success with knowledge base software depends on one major thing – usability. 

Usability doesn’t just indicate the ease of use. It is much more than that. Let’s look at the five factors that make a knowledge base tool usable and beneficial.

1. Engagement

Besides a great design and user-friendly interface, a knowledge base tool must have the power to help you achieve your goals in a hassle-free way. Engagement happens when the tool satisfies you at every stage of knowledge base creation. 

Visual elements, easy navigation, clear layout, and the ability to deliver incredible results – all of these contribute to making a knowledge base tool engaging.

2. Effectiveness

A tool is effective when it provides the right instructions to help you accomplish your goals. It should support you at all times, making your experience with the tool nothing but seamless. The instructions and tips provided, demonstrations given must be crystal clear so that you can make the most of them.

3. Efficiency

While effectiveness is about accuracy, efficiency denotes the speed at which you can use the tool to meet an objective. For a tool to be efficient, the label buttons should be crystal clear, and instructions should be clearly written. Each step should seamlessly lead to the next, making it easy for you to meet your desired goals.

4. Minimum Errors

While in a parallel universe, you might have a tool that is free of errors, it’s difficult to find such a product in the real world. The more the errors, the poorer the user experience. 

The best knowledge base tools are designed in a way that they have the least amount of errors. They offer smooth navigation, simple language, feedback options, and correct information. Even when there is an error, such tools help you recover from it and bring you on the right path quickly.

5. Ease Of Use and Learn

A tool that’s simple to use and at the same time delivers exemplary results is Goals. Your knowledge base tool should be easy to use, as well as easy to learn. Even when it gets updated or some features undergo a change, the tool should make it easy for you to adapt to the change effortlessly. 

Initial hiccups are bound to be there when you start using a tool. It’s up to the software on how effortless it makes the interaction. 

Leading Knowledge Base Examples – Get Inspired & Get Started

By now, you might have gained substantial knowledge regarding a knowledge base. So, before you start creating something, go through these beautifully-built knowledge bases of HighQ, Unleashed, and Leap. 

These examples will inspire you to follow their steps and create an impressive knowledge base for your business.

1. HighQ

HighQ’s online knowledge base is quite comprehensive. It comes with a prominent search bar and has major sections listed right on the home page for easy navigation. Key highlights include the popular articles section below the search bar and a ‘What’s new’ section at the bottom.

HighQ User documentation examples

2. Unleashed

Unleashed’s knowledge base is Goals. The home page accommodates every important section, including FAQs, getting started, advanced features, other resources, and additional helpful articles. The presentation is great. Most articles offer information in bulleted points and make good use of media.

Unleashed Help Center

3. Leap

Leap’s knowledge-based system is a go-to platform where you can find everything, right from news and announcements to popular articles. Browse through its knowledge base and you will realize that it’s quite detailed and well-presented.

Leap Knowledge Base Design

Create a Knowledge Base in Minutes With Easy to Use Templates

Building a knowledge base is as easy with ready-made templates. Wondering how templates work and how they can significantly reduce the time it takes to get your knowledge base up and running? 

This section reveals the secret. 

Log in to your knowledge base account and follow the process given below.

1. Decide what you want to create – a manual, guide, handbook, or documentation, and then choose a template that best matches your vision. 

Here are examples of free knowledge base templates for your reference.

knowledge base template for employee
knowledge base template for website customer help center-min
knowledge base template for HR-min

2. Once you have your template ready, start adding the basic details such as your company name and logo.

3. If you are fine with the categories, well and good. If not, you can change them or add more sections according to your requirements. 

4. The table of contents is ready, so you don’t have to worry about that. 

5. Each category will have dummy content. Replace it with meaningful information that you want to add to your knowledge base. 

6. Once you are done with content creation, file importing, and customization, publish your knowledge base with a single click.

7. Your knowledge base will be ready to rock. 

Read More: How to Create a Knowledge Base: Step by Step Guide

Knowledge Base: A Game-Changing Business Tool

By now, all your questions around ‘what is a knowledge base’ might have been answered. 

Whichever business you are into – healthcare, travel, eCommerce, or any other industry, a knowledge base can be an effective addition to your existing fleet of tools. 

Whatever your objective is – customer support, internal knowledge management, or employee training and onboarding, a knowledge base has your back. It is an incredibly powerful tool that packs your business knowledge on a centralized platform, making it instantly and easily available to all your stakeholders. 

This knowledge is all your customers and teams need to become self-reliant and solve all their challenges. 

Invest in a knowledge base today to become a brand that your customers and employees love!


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should a knowledge base include?

A knowledge base should have all the necessary information that your audience (customers or employees) needs for problem-solving. It can have FAQs, video tutorials, detailed guides, step-by-step instructions, training material, and much more.

2. Why is a knowledge base important?

A knowledge base is crucial to make your customers and employees self-reliant. It is a go-to resource where help is available 24×7. This helps your audience solve most of the challenges on their own.

3. What is the purpose of a knowledge base?

A knowledge base works with the aim to provide self-service support to your target audience. While customers can use it to get instant help regarding your offerings, employees can turn to your knowledge base to get familiar with your work dynamics or learn about a policy.

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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.