March 5, 2019

How To Build a Knowledge Base for Self-Service Support

Knowledge bases are an important part of customer success strategy no matter what kind of product or service you have. They’re essentially a resource library for your clients.

Similar to how you build out a resource library to attract prospects with educational resources on relevant topics, you should provide educational resources about your product or service to your clients as well. This content should differ to reflect the varying needs of the two audiences.

Knowledge bases can help boost customer satisfaction and create efficiency. By having a knowledge base that answers commonly asked questions, you can increase your customer success team’s efficiency so they can spend their time providing personalized answers to case-by-case questions instead of answering questions that can be addressed through a FAQ page. It also helps the customer because it’s quicker and easier to search a knowledge base for an answer than reach out to a customer service rep.

How to Build a Knowledge Base

If you’re starting from scratch, start small and then build your knowledge base up over time.

If you don’t know where to begin the content creation, poll your customer success team on what the most common problems coming up are and figure out how to make a self-sufficient asset to solve for those problems.

Starting with the most common problems will take the most off your customer support team’s plate so they can focus on more complex issues while also helping you provide the most relevant resources for your clients.

Where should your knowledge base live?

For a service company, your knowledge base should be located in the project management software you manage your customer projects through. Or in some cases, you can outsource your knowledge base to a different software if your project management tool doesn’t have the capabilities to manage a knowledge base.

For SaaS companies, your knowledge base should be stored in the customer service and ticketing platform. For example, HubSpot’s Service Hub has a ticketing system where people can submit customer service requests and interact with customer success reps as well as the knowledge base.

It’s important to make sure your knowledge base is aligned with your ticketing platform. Especially if you’re using two different platforms, they need to be integrated so data can flow properly. If someone submits a ticket in your service hub and are driven to an article in your knowledge base, you need to make sure you capture whether or not that knowledge base article resolved the ticket.

What should your knowledge base accomplish?

Once you figure out where your knowledge base will go, you need to figure out what its purpose will be.

In the case of a SaaS company, the purpose of a knowledge base is probably to troubleshoot and fix problems that can be solved without a customer service rep, i.e., problems the customer can work through on their own.

For services, knowledge bases are more similar to the prospect-facing resource center because it’s not hypertechnical. If you’re offering a non-tangible product like consulting, you can’t necessarily provide generalized, actionable answers to questions your customers have. Instead, your knowledge base should aim to help your customer better understand what they are getting from your services and how those services are helping them.

The overall goal of a knowledge base is to enable your customer to better use your product or service. Service company knowledge bases should include information on best practices for clients to report on the effectiveness of their services and how to present the impact of those services to a board. With SaaS or physical products, a knowledge base will focus on how to troubleshoot errors and best practices for using a platform.

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What kind of content should your knowledge base contain?

When creating assets for your knowledge base, make sure it’s evergreen. Knowledge base content either needs to be accurate forever or updated alongside any changes you make to your product or service.

When creating these resources, think about taking the conversation that a customer service rep would have with a client and converting that into an easily comprehensible document or video that can be used by the client independently. That mindset can help with the creation of FAQs and step-by-step technical walkthroughs.

Once you have a substantial amount of content in your knowledge base, categorize your resources in a way that if someone checks out an article and it’s not what they’re looking for, they can easily find everything else on the same topic to hopefully discover the information they need.

Another good practice is to build out keystone documentation on your core offering, like an all-encompassing document that details everything a customer would want to know about what they purchased. In the case of New Breed, that’d include a detailed description of the deliverables associated with all our services. For a SaaS company, a keystone document is like a manual for your product and the features that come with each tier for each user group so people can easily identify which version of your product they have and understand which products come or don’t come with it.

Videos and written articles are the most effective media to use for content in your knowledge base. If you’re explaining something technical, it’s good to have a video demonstrating the steps. But you should also offer a transcript or related article for people who’d prefer to read over watching videos. If you don’t have the time or resources to create videos, start with written content and convert that into videos later when you do have the resources.

The Takeaway

Remember, while your knowledge base is meant to help your customers, there are still problems that can’t be solved with a knowledge base article. Make sure your team is accessible through your knowledge base, whether that means having a chatbot on the page or a phone number or email that allows immediate contact with a customer service rep. If your customer can’t find the solution on the page and can’t figure out how to contact a real person, they’ll get frustrated.

Being responsive to your customers is super important, especially in B2B industries. It’s high-stakes when something goes wrong because it’s a business asset; it’s not just impacting one customer, but rather an entire business, their jobs and sometimes their customers as well. Prioritizing customer success is arguably more important in B2B industries than it is in B2C because the stakes are higher and more money is invested.

Always make sure your knowledge base is customer-centric and focused on your product or service. The content in your knowledge base should only be targeted at your customers. A prospect shouldn’t be able to find anything relevant for them in your knowledge base because they’re not customers yet.

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Amanda Nielsen

Amanda is a former New Breeder.


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