Published: August 20, 2013 | Comments
A note from the editor: In this post, Flavio Martins explains what a knowledge base is, and shares some great advice for making knowledge bases more customer-friendly. If you're interested in learning more, or have insights of your own to share, please join us on Wednesday, August 28th at 8pm ET for the fourth tweet chat in our #CCDemo13 chat series. We'll be discussing how to create an effective knowledge base, and Bob Furniss (@bobfurniss) will be our host.
You can follow along at twubs.com/CCDemo13, or just follow along by using the hashtag #CCDemo13. Have questions about to participate in a tweet chat? Please reach out to us through twitter. We're happy to help!
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A customer service knowledge base is a key to customer experience as it allows customers to get the right information how and when they want it.
Delivering an effective customer experience is more than just human interaction. The digital customer experience is key in today’s technologically connected customer focus world. A digital customer experience that customers appreciate has to incorporate the self-service ability that today’s customers have come to expect.
Not every customer wants to call you on the phone. Not every customer wants to wait 24-48 hours for you to reply to their email. Even for top notch teams like we have at SSL Certificate provider DigiCert where our email response time is usually 10 minutes or less, customers today still want to “Google it” and expect to find the answer or information they’re looking for immediately.
What is a knowledge base?
An effective knowledge base delivers the immediate information customers need in an organized way.
A knowledge base is an online library dedicated to anything and everything there is to know and say about your product or service. Instead of being filled with books to check out, your customer service knowledge base is filled with short articles that your customers can read and get quick answers to questions or instruction about what you have to offer.
Think of your knowledge base as your customer service encyclopedia you want your customers to turn to in their time of need.
4 keys to a knowledge base that your customers will actually use
Having an effective knowledge base will reduce the stress on your customer service teams as more customers will opt to find the answer themselves instead of picking up the phone or shooting an email to your customer service team. The more customer requests you can shift onto your digital sources, the bigger the effect will be on your bottom line as you control the cost of customer service.
4 key points will make or break your knowledge base and ensure that it contributes to your customer experience while NOT contributing to your overall costs.
1. Make your knowledge base easy to read
Simply adding links to technical documents or filling it full of technical jargon won’t cut it. A customer service knowledge base that really contributes to the customer experience that customers will love has to be easy to read and simple enough that anyone can follow and understand.
If your customers can’t understand the answer to the question they have, you’ll only frustrate them and then have an upset customer to deal with on your regular customer service contact channel. The last thing customers want is a failed service communication channel.
It’s best to focus your written language to an 8th grade reading level as this will ensure that your content is straight forward enough for anyone to read, regardless of their language or educational background.
2. Make your knowledge base easy to use
Are you surprised to see this suggestion? It’s absolutely a requirement to an effective knowledge base. Believe it or not, so many organizations go through great lengths to add useful content that customers are thirsty for, point customers to their knowledge base, then make using the knowledge base such a pain that customers simply give up.
Why go through all the effort of setting up the knowledge base only to make it a pain to work with. Remember, people want quick acccess to information. Online self-service should be the fastest customer service contact channel you manage. Customers should be in and out and have their solution. Customer service in the knowledge base takes place lighting quick, if done correctly.
Requiring customers to register or sign up, enter in product numbers, limit how or when they can comment on articles are absolutely out of the question. Nothing frustrates me more than finding a knowledge base, then being required to register and fill in a million details just to get access to the information. And if I want to comment or ask a question, just let me. Don’t create a wall that keeps customers from engaging with your company.
3. Make your customer service knowledge base easy to find
if you’re dealing with a popular knowledge base software for your Web site or a customer service knowledge base solution provider like Zendesk, UserVoice, or GetSatisfaction, you’ll be sure to get hight quality software solutions that will take care of the search engine work so that your customers can find your knowledge base. Other call center knowledge base software providers do a good job too at making sure Mr. Google can find your valuable content.
But there’s more to being able to find your knowledge base than getting Google to see it. What are you doing within your organization to ensure that your customers know that they can get customer service from your knowledge base? Is a link to your knowledge base prominently shown on your important customer service pages? How about in your customer communication, do you regularly include a plug letting customers know about the knowledge base option for customer service questions?
4. Make contributing to your knowledge base the focus of your customer service agents
Finally, no knowledge base can be an effective source of service that contributes to an exceptional customer experience if it isn’t integrated into how you do customer service. It will take more than just adding a few articles. Instead, think of it as customer knowledge management. What frequently asked customers could be resolved by reading a short article? Call center knowledge management tools can help you figure out what’s best to include.
The most effective customer service knowledge base is on full of new articles and content. It’s a knowledge base where customers regularly interact with your customer service experts, where they get the help they need and communicate information about working with your product or service.
It’s key that customer service agents regularly interact with the knowledge base. Whether it’s adding new customer service articles, or answer customer questions, they need to be there and know where to find answers to common customer questions.
Bonus: Use your knowledge base for training customers and customer service agents
I like to use the knowledge base as a core component to new customer service agent trainings. It’s best to train them with the same material that they’ll be using to train the customer. Let them become experts in how to use it effectively for their own learning and they’ll be able to be experts in helping customers use it to help themselves.
Effectively used, a well-planned knowledge base that is integrated into the customer service and customer communication process can be a key contributor to the type of customer experience that delights customers and keeps them coming back.