4 easy steps for creating an effective knowledge base

Sarah Laoyan contributor headshotSarah LaoyanMarch 3rd, 20224 min read
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Summary

A knowledge base is an internal or customer-facing library dedicated to a specific topic, product, or service. The goal of a knowledge base is to be a repository of information for those who are learning about a topic, so they can find the information they need. Knowledge bases can help customers find answers to questions they have, which helps minimize customer service requests. Learn how to increase customer satisfaction by following four easy steps.

When you’re looking to purchase a new product, what are the things you look for? A well-made product? Functionality that fits your needs? What about customer service?

If you provide your customers with a good experience after they purchase a product, you’re more likely to retain them. People want the security of knowing they have all of the information available to use the product they just purchased. Companies can provide this information with a tool called a knowledge base.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is an internal or customer-facing library dedicated to a specific topic, product, or service. A knowledge base is intended to be a repository of information for those who are using a specific product or service. This helps customers or internal employees quickly find information they need about that specific topic. For example, FAQs, common troubleshooting techniques, and how-to guides are all types of content you could include in a knowledge base. 

A non-digital example of a knowledge base is an instruction manual that comes with a new product. If you have trouble setting up your machine, the instruction manual has the information you need to get your product set up. 

Knowledge bases are not just for products or services—they’re often used to organize internal company information and process documentation as well. Your company likely has an internal knowledge base where you can find information about how to access your pay stub, where to submit reimbursements, or general company policies. This can be as simple as a document, or as complex as a dedicated knowledge base tool like Slab.

Topics you should have in your knowledge base

If you’re unsure of what type of content you should have in your knowledge base, ask both your customers and your support team. What are the questions that customers are asking about most frequently? What do customers seem to want when they call in for support?

Here are some common forms of content you may see in a knowledge base:

  • FAQs and answers

  • Troubleshooting guides

  • Step-by-step setup instructions

  • How-to videos

  • Demos

  • Detailed graphics

Why create a knowledge base?

Knowledge bases are powerful resources for prospective customers, current customers, and internal employees. Here are a few reasons why your team should establish a knowledge base. 

Provide customers with the answers they need

If a customer has an issue with a product, the first step they’ll take is to see if they can solve the problem on their own. According to a survey conducted by Zendesk, 69% of consumers try to resolve their issues independently, but less than one third of companies offer some form of self-service solution like a knowledge base. When you give your customers the tools they need to solve problems on their own, they can feel confident in their ability to troubleshoot—which in turn can increase customer satisfaction. 

Minimize the number of customer service requests

A good knowledge base will help you decrease the amount of incoming support tickets. If you provide consumers with solutions to common issues, they’ll be able to troubleshoot on their own and solve problems without ever submitting a ticket. Not only does this save your support team time, energy, and costs—it also allows your team to focus on more complicated issues and bugs that may require engineering support to fix.

Offer both internal and external support

When you create a knowledge base for your product, it serves two purposes: providing your customers with information, but also to help internal employees find information about your product. For example, if your team is training new employees on how to use your product, a knowledge base can help support them during their onboarding process.

How to build a customer-facing knowledge base

Ready to build an effective knowledge base for your customers? Here are four steps you can take to create a knowledge base. While these steps are focus on creating an externally facing database, the same steps could be used to create one for an internal knowledge base regarding company processes or other information similar.

1. Gather or create documentation that explains how to use your product

When creating a customer-facing knowledge base, start by compiling all of the documentation your company has regarding your product. This information can vary vastly from team to team, even within the same company. For example, your sales team may explain how a product works differently from how the development team does. The important part is finding all of the available information and deciding which is the most appropriate to include within your knowledge base.

Written documentation isn’t the only thing that can be shared within a knowledge base. Multimedia resources such as how-to videos, public demos, diagrams, and recorded trainings are all things that can be in a customer-facing knowledge base.

2. Create consistent language throughout your knowledge base

As mentioned previously, different teams in your organization may use different language for the same things. This can create confusion—not only for your team members, but for customers as well. When establishing your knowledge base, be sure to standardize the language you use for your product. This can help your customers and your team members identify the correct parts of your product. For example, the sales team may refer to a step-by-step process as a workflow, whereas the engineering team may refer to that same step-by-step process as the production flow. If you use both phrases in a knowledge base, your readers can get confused between the two names. Choosing one standardized name and using it throughout your organization prevents this from happening.

Read: How to improve team communication: 6 strategies and tips

3. Find the right tools to manage your knowledge base

Finding the right knowledge base software depends on how you’ll use the knowledge base. Are you establishing a database of company knowledge? Do you only want a specific subset of people to access information? Do you need to have some sort of search functionality for your knowledge base? 

Figure out what basic functionality you want your knowledge base to have, and then begin searching for the right knowledge base tool. This can help you narrow down your search to find the right knowledge base software. 

4. Regularly keep the knowledge base up to date

Your knowledge base should always have the most up-to-date information possible. The less time between updates, the less likely your team will get support tickets regarding a change in a specific process or workflow. Having a knowledge base tool that has an easy-to-operate content management system is important. If your team is unable to easily update information like product screenshots or new tutorials, it will be hard for them to maintain a functioning database. 

Knowing when things will change in your product is critical for knowledge base consistency. That means in order to keep your knowledge base up to date, you need to collaborate with product teams every time a feature is launched or updated. For example, when we launch a new feature here at Asana, we assign tasks to members of our User Operations team to update the Asana Guide with any relevant screenshots or information. Since all of the product launch information is standardized in Asana, our User Operations team can update the Asana Guide as soon as the new feature launches.

Collaborate on your knowledge base using work management software

Once you’ve gathered knowledge base information, you need to keep this information up to date. This is where cross-functional collaboration comes into play. When new features are added, make sure the team that manages your knowledge base is looped into a central source of truth, like Asana. With Asana, you can help bring your team’s work together in one shared space.

Improve team collaboration with Asana

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