Guide to creating a knowledge base for customer service

Guide to Creating a Knowledge Base for Customer Service

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Nowadays, customers prefer taking matters into their own hands. Research indicates a strong inclination towards resolving issues independently rather than engaging with customer support reps. A noteworthy 91% of survey participants expressed a willingness to utilize an online knowledge base, provided it aligns with their specific needs. Consequently, it’s commonplace for your competitors to have established knowledge bases.

However, the challenge lies in making your knowledge base stand out in delivering a superior customer experience. This guide comprehensively explores the essential elements required to construct a customer service knowledge base that surpasses the expectations of today’s consumers.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base serves as a repository of information that empowers users to access details regarding a particular subject, product, or service.

A typical knowledge base encompasses diverse content formats, including articles, videos, and FAQs. This setup ensures that when a customer faces challenges like changing their password, they aren’t dependent solely on support. Instead, they can refer to an article or watch a video that guides them through the process.

Knowledge bases can be classified as either internal or external. While the conceptual framework remains consistent for both, they diverge in terms of accessibility and content.

Types of knowledge bases

Knowledge bases can be classified as either internal or external. While the conceptual framework remains consistent for both, they diverge in terms of accessibility and content.

Internal knowledge base

Accessibility: Restricted to internal use within an organization.

Content Focus: Primarily geared towards employees, containing information relevant to company processes, policies, and internal procedures.

Purpose: Aids employees in finding and utilizing organizational information efficiently, fostering better internal collaboration and problem-solving.

External knowledge base

Accessibility: Open to external users, typically customers, partners, or leads.

Content Focus: Tailored to address customer queries, providing information on products, services, troubleshooting guides, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Purpose: Enhances customer self-service by offering a readily available resource for finding solutions and information independently, reducing the need for direct support interactions.

How to create a knowledge base for customer service

Certain companies prefer a gradual approach, generating one resource at a time. However, for those prioritizing speed, the option exists to develop all knowledge base resources simultaneously. While this method may initially seem daunting, requiring your team to determine content coverage, generate textual and video content, design the knowledge base, and organize resources, employing a well-structured process and suitable software can simplify the undertaking. Now, let’s navigate through the systematic steps involved in crafting a customer service knowledge base.

Step 1: Define your audience

The target audience for an external knowledge base comprises your customer base. It necessitates the incorporation of details about your product, encompassing tutorials, troubleshooting guides, company policies, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

In contrast, internal knowledge bases are constructed to serve employees. In addition to encompassing all the information found in the external knowledge base, an internal knowledge base includes supplementary resources such as training modules, compliance information, and onboarding materials. When developing an internal knowledge base for customer service, the primary objective should be to streamline the process of accessing and conveying information for support agents and AI-powered automation tools.

Step 2: Research and prioritize your subject matter

Thorough research plays a crucial role in prioritizing information within your knowledge base. While you may already have a comprehensive understanding of your customers, delving even deeper through meticulous research is recommended to ensure the provision of relevant information.

Neglecting this step could lead to a lack of clarity on what information to prioritize, resulting in potential consequences such as diminished customer loyalty and suboptimal return on investment for your knowledge base.

To discover content topics for your knowledge base and ensure the sourcing of genuinely valuable information for customers, we suggest the following ideas:

1. Examine support tickets: Identify prevalent customer issues by reviewing interactions in support tickets. Incorporate solutions to these common problems into your knowledge base.

2. Analyze use cases: Review your product’s various use cases and pinpoint situations where customers might require assistance. For instance, a user utilizing a task management SaaS for setting up reminders may need guidance on configuring recurring reminders and notification channels.

3. Solicit feedback: Gather insights from customer feedback to understand common pain points. Address these issues by providing solutions in your knowledge base. If customers frequently express frustration about refund processes, create an article outlining the steps and link to relevant sections of your refund policy.

Step 3: Organize your content

After investing time in research, the next step is organizing the gathered information. Crafting an effective information architecture demands careful consideration. Here are some guidelines to help structure your content:

1. Establish clear categories and subcategories to logically organize the content. Ensure that categories do not overlap, as this prevents confusion for both humans and AI when searching for information. Logical categorization reduces the likelihood of users and AI seeking information in the wrong category, thus minimizing time wasted on irrelevant content.

2. Use relevant and descriptive signposts to guide users effectively. Ensure that the information under each signpost is highly pertinent, facilitating seamless navigation for users and AI. Placing verbs closer to the beginning of the signpost aids users in relating signposts to their objectives. Whenever possible, avoid referencing complex concepts or terms, as they tend to confuse both users and language models (LLMs).

3. Employ proper HTML structure when creating signposts to ensure that AI comprehends the content’s formatting. While text decoration may visually resemble a heading, AI might struggle to recognize it. Utilize H1, H2, H3 tags, and beyond to facilitate easy readability for AI and assistive technology tools.

4. Implement effective navigation mechanisms. Intuitive menu design and robust search functionality are essential for delivering a superior customer experience. Customers should easily access category menus to locate desired information and utilize search functionality to find content using specific keywords. Additionally, organizing information from the broadest to the most specific aids in simplifying navigation.

Seeking inspiration? Take a look at HubSpot’s knowledge base. The journey begins with a user-friendly search bar, offering a straightforward option for users. Beneath it, prominent articles are showcased. In cases where the desired information remains elusive, users can refine their search by choosing a category based on user needs. The experience culminates with a comprehensive list of self-help topics.

Step 4: Use a knowledge base software

There are over 170 knowledge base software options on G2. While evaluating and choosing the right solution can be challenging, we can provide you with a checklist to simplify the decision-making process. Look for knowledge base software that is user-friendly, scalable, boasts an extensive feature set, and seamlessly integrates with the applications in your tech stack. Here’s a brief overview of key features to consider in knowledge base software:

1. Integrations: Integrations streamline workflows and save time for both you and your customers. For instance, integration with conversational AI customer service automation, such as an AI agent, accelerates customer query resolution and enhances the overall experience.

2. Customizable UI: A knowledge base software with a customizable user interface facilitates the creation of an easily navigable platform. Ensure the software allows customization of CSS and HTML for optimizing the user experience with a clean and intuitive design.

3. Collaboration and Versioning: Enable authorized employees from various departments to contribute information to the knowledge base. Versioning becomes crucial when multiple contributors are involved, helping identify and rectify errors promptly.

4. Analytics and Reporting: Knowledge base software can be a rich source of data to enhance both customer service and product development. Opt for software with built-in analytics and reporting features to convert collected data into insightful reports for informed decision-making.

If your software lacks these features, consider integration with another tool, such as an AI Analytics platform, that provides analytics and reporting capabilities.

Step 5: Assign contributors

Elevating your customer service team’s capabilities becomes a pivotal focus during the transition to an AI-centric customer service organization. In an ideal scenario, dedicated individuals with technical writing proficiency and robust collaboration skills would manage your knowledge base.

Regardless, it is imperative to assign someone capable of producing authoritative content and staying abreast of company changes, product launches, and policy updates. While involving multiple stakeholders in the knowledge base is beneficial, having at least one person to consolidate and ensure the currency of this information is crucial. This maintenance ensures that your AI draws from reliable sources, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship — improved AI performance and the utilization of AI insights for continuous knowledge base enhancement.

In the absence of a dedicated overseer for knowledge base management, select contributors from each department and designate them to manage specific sections of the knowledge base. Consider the following criteria:

1. Domain Expertise: Contributors must possess extensive knowledge in their respective domains to craft authoritative content. Seek individuals skilled in information architecture and technical writing to transform domain expert information into easily digestible content.

2. Communication Skills: Contributors should excel in communication, effectively delivering their ideas with clarity and conciseness.

3. Commitment: Contributors committed to constructing a comprehensive, high-quality knowledge base are more likely to assist in its maintenance. A contributor’s dedication to building the knowledge base correlates with their motivation to consistently enhance the quality of information.

Future of customer service: AI-powered knowledge bases

While the majority of your rivals already possess a knowledge base, infusing AI into yours can set it apart. The fusion of knowledge base software with an AI Agent not only provides a competitive advantage but also delivers the sought-after experience your customers desire. Instead of investing in recruiting and training additional support agents like your competitors, take a decisive step towards constructing an AI-powered knowledge base with Born Digital. Our mission is to revolutionize customer experiences through the application of AI.

Find out how you can leverage Born Digital's Generative and Conversational AI solutions to drive business results.