How to Create a Knowledge Base in 2023
Not having a centralized source of information for employees can be a productivity-killer and a major turnoff for customers. Employees spend up to 20% of their workweek looking for information, and even when they ask for help, they could spend up to 5.3 hours waiting on a response.
Companies experiencing such issues have found that knowledge bases assuage this unnecessary misuse of employee time. In fact, 95% of CEOs acknowledge knowledge management as an essential ingredient in company success.
Companies should invest time in learning how to create a knowledge base because centralizing information creates efficient teams and empowers customers with the knowledge they need to use your product/service.
What is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base serves as a tool for employees and users to find accurate information when they need it. It’s essentially a digital vault for your resources, including anything from onboarding materials to guided software tutorials.
A good knowledge base is the perfect solution for providing an excellent customer service while scaling your customer support program. Additionally, it also helps your employees carry out their job effectively by providing answer to their queries.
Types of Knowledge Bases
Knowledge bases are classified into internal and external categories, used in tandem or independently. Finding software that can target both users can help all aspects of your business, and help drive a culture of knowledge sharing.
1. Internal Knowledge Base for Employees
In an era of hiring surges, remote workers, and value shifts, it can be hard to train and keep team members informed adequately. Think of how much time is consumed getting new employees comfortable with your software applications, finding company policies and information, or teaching your coworkers an updated process.
Below is an example of an internal knowledge base built on Guru for a customer support team.
Internal knowledge bases (or internal wikis) store company processes and resources to mitigate this knowledge gap. Shield HealthCare, for example, used Whatfix employee onboarding software features to train new employees on a new in-house application. By using self-guided walkthroughs and customer support tools, employees were able to learn the software without ever having to leave it.
Information commonly stored in internal knowledge bases includes:
- Employee-focused information such as compensation, benefits, organization structure, and policies
- Onboarding training
- Internal process documentation, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and tutorials
- In-app technology support
- Alerts or announcements
2. External Knowledge Base for Customer Support
An external knowledge base provides customers with immediate and effective information to help solve customer queries in the form of knowledge base articles. These knowledge bases are customer self-serve portals, which means customers can search and find answers to their questions without reaching out to a company’s contact center, reducing support tickets.
Take Instagram Help Center, for example. With their simple and easy-to-navigate support page, users can immediately see what’s new and learn about everything from features to account management. These searchable knowledge portals are more in-depth versions of traditional FAQ pages and help centers.
Below you can see an example of a customer-facing knowledge base from Canva.
Information commonly stored in external knowledge bases includes:
- Resources or widgets to troubleshoot user problems
- Product walkthroughs and how-to guides
- Frequently asked questions
- Customer information, such as ordering and billing
Elements to Include in Your Knowledge Base
Here are different components that make up a knowledge base.
1. Tutorials & How-to Guides
How-to guides are generally short tutorials that explain in detail a single step or action to help new users get acquainted with a feature or process. On the other hand, tutorials are in-depth and cover a more comprehensive range of processes.
How-to guides and tutorials are generally supported with screenshots, short step-by-step videos, images, diagrams, gifs, etc. to make them more visually appealing.
The frequently asked questions section explains topics that don’t require much depth and can be explained in 1 or 2 paragraphs. These are answers to questions that have been either asked on a regular basis by users or are expected to be asked at some point.
When dealing with software documentation, troubleshooting problems, etc., your engineers and programmers rely heavily on the open-source community for fixing issues. A good knowledge base provides a separate space for users to interact and help each other.
4. Latest Updates
This section includes community announcements, product updates, new version releases, known issues with the platform, etc.
Benefits of Knowledge Bases
Knowledge bases have several benefits, all centered around helping employees, companies, and customers save time and effort.
1. Better Onboarding
We all know the importance of onboarding, both for ramping up new employees and getting customers acquainted with your product. So, it is no surprise the 2018 Kronos and Human Capital Institute study on the onboarding experience found that “longer onboarding programs are associated with stronger employee engagement, business reputation, quality hires, and the percentage of diverse hires.”
Most employers understand the value of education programs for new employees and customers but lack the time and resources to prepare them for success. For example, in the previously mentioned study of the 350 companies surveyed, 57% said their biggest onboarding challenge was lack of time, and 47% said there was a lack of consistent application across the company.
Therefore, a centralized, all-encompassing knowledge base can save training time and ensure a consistent employee onboarding and customer onboarding experience.
2. Improved Customer Service Experiences
In today’s digital world, where we expect information to be at our fingertips right when we need it, it is no longer enough to wait for someone to respond to an email or pick up the customer service line. Users refuse to slow down, and if they have to pause what they are doing, odds are they will lose interest.
A knowledge base does something humans can’t: be available 24/7, right when a user needs it, with self-service features. With the readily available information, user productivity increases, and companies save troubleshooting time. For example, ICICI bank used Whatfix’s knowledge management features to help with common activities and, “…queries about how to navigate the site were reduced by 50%.”
3. Reduced Support Tickets
With self-service features, knowledge bases take a massive burden off customer support and IT teams. No longer do employees or customers need to send an email to submit a support ticket when there is an issue, or they need help navigating through a new tool.
With knowledge bases, common user inquiries can be resolved without the need for further support from the IT or support teams.
4. Increased Overall Productivity
While both preceding benefits contribute to increased output, there are many other ways knowledge bases can increase productivity.
In 2018, Nintex surveyed employees across industries and departments, ultimately creating the Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 39% identify broken document management/sales processes within their organization. Top-ranking processes include locating documents, document sharing, and document approval requests.
One must not understate the value of updated and defined processes to any company. A strong knowledge base provides universal access to support, onboarding, and other process documentation, that is vital to an efficient organization.
Additionally, a sophisticated knowledge base provides reporting on user behavior. These insights can be used to tailor content to specific users and help their productivity levels.
5. Cost Savings
Knowledge bases, backed by a plan for knowledge management, free up the company’s time and resources from having to provide training programs for employees. It ensures that new hires are trained with the latest information, get 24*7 consistent guidance, and can find quick resolutions to their queries without waiting for technical support. This translates to a better work environment and lowers IT and training costs.
For instance, if you are introducing a new HR software in the organization, simply create a knowledge base with detailed instructions, tutorials, and guides on how to use the software. This will save you the time and expense of providing specific in-person training to every employee.
6. Enhanced Collaboration and Communication
An internal knowledge base helps enhance communication and collaboration within an organization by providing a central repository of information that can be easily accessed and shared by all employees. This helps prevent organizational silos and facilitates collaboration on different projects by allowing employees to access and share information with their team members.
Examples of Knowledge Bases
Here are some examples of knowledge base excellency.
Ahrefs help center is organized and easy to navigate. It is categorized based on the actions that the user is trying to perform.
Additionally, their content is heavily backed by media content. Different screenshots help users follow through a process step-by-step.
Ahrefs also has an interesting way of capturing user feedback. Instead of the traditional Q&A, they use emojis for users to indicate their level of satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the content.
The categorization and structure of Canva’s knowledge base are top-notch.
The help articles are professionally done, and they also provide quick video tutorials on navigating different features of Canva.
Canva also has an autocomplete search function, which predicts user searches based on previous historical data.
Whatfix’s knowledge base is categorized according to its various features.
Selecting a particular category takes the user to the relevant help content. The content is a combination of written and visual elements alongwith the appropriate navigational links to help the user understand a concept completely.
To collect user feedback, Whatfix has a like and dislike button. And also provides a support email address for users to share their thoughts on the helpfulness of the content.
The SurveyMonkey knowledge base design template is clean, beautiful, simple, and intuitive. It has a visually prominent search bar and clear topic categories to make finding help easier for users.
The search box has a good autocomplete system to suggest possible questions for users.
On clicking a knowledge base article, users get the information they need with highlighted topic categories and navigations to know where exactly they are on the site.
Dropbox’s knowledge base contains a series of tabs users can click to navigate various content areas.
If the options at the top of the page don’t resonate with a user, Dropbox provides a large, prevalent search box with an autocomplete system to suggest possible questions.
On scrolling, there is a community section that contains the most popular topics.
User feedback on help content is captured through emojis.
How to Create a Knowledge Base for Your Customers
While creating a knowledge base may seem daunting, many companies already have most of the resources on hand. Using a knowledge base software will help you compile most of these already-existing resources into a knowledge management tool ready for your employees or customers to use.
1. Brainstorm FAQs and How-To Topics
Take the time to identify common challenges and knowledge gaps your users face. Have customers been missing out on a useful feature of your platform? Are employees constantly asking where to log their vacation days?
Make a note of these common queries and include these resources in your knowledge base. Then, to ensure a thorough knowledge base, survey both employees and customers to see what they would like to know.
2. Create, Collect, Curate, and Organize Your Content
Not only does this phase require finding updated resources, but it also means creating more based on your pain points. Think about your current content format and if changing it up may contribute to user success.
For example, if all processes and support information is in document form, consider repurposing text-based documents into how-to videos and webinars, as well as creating infographics and diagrams.
3. Determine Your Writing Process
Writing knowledge base articles is almost the same as writing an informative blog content. In both cases, you want to engage readers, give helpful instructions or knowledge, and allow them to walk away with new information or ideas.
Here are a few general guidelines for writing knowledge base articles:
- Write a strong and clear headline
- Be descriptive
- Avoid typos
- Link to helpful resources
- Focus on readability
- Add the most frequently asked questions in your support ticket auto-responder or chatbot.
- Avoid being redundant
- Make content easy to skim
4. Leverage Knowledge Base Software
Now that you know the basics of how to create a knowledge base, it’s time to choose the right tool to get the job done. Upgrade your knowledge management by using a program designed specially to help your users learn more effectively.
The best knowledge base software will allow you to:
- Create a searchable hub that contains your various company knowledge and policies
- Connect with both internal and external users
- Easily incorporate new changes and processes
- Track user activity
- Provide contextual and immediate support
- Ask for feedback
5. Make Your Knowledge Base Content Easily Accessible
Once you have created your knowledge base, users must know exactly how and where to utilize it. Actively promote your content during onboarding, announcements, and marketing campaigns to ensure customers and/or employees know it’s available.
When choosing software, ensure it integrates directly into your app or website for easy access and empowering your organization to create omnichannel customer experiences.
With Whatfix’s native knowledge base integrations, organizations can embed their knowledge directly into their digital apps for internal employees, as well as customers and end-users. This provides on-demand, self-help support in the moment of need for employees and customers.
Never consider your knowledge base “complete.” To provide the most relevant and helpful content for your users, continue creating and editing certain documents as your business evolves.
For instance, if your organization updates its policies in any way, you’ll want to reflect these changes in your existing knowledge base.
Tips for Building a Helpful Knowledge Base Strategy
Now that you know how to create a knowledge base, it’s crucial to understand how to make this resource as successful as possible for your company.
1. Keep Your Knowledge Base Well Maintained
Keeping your knowledge base up-to-date is crucial to its success. Users will utilize the resource as long as they can trust the information. How frequently depends on how often there are changes within your company. Make sure to refresh it as soon as you announce a new company update or process so users can reference the information without delay.
Finding an intuitive software that requires zero-coding experience and applies changes automatically to all formats will make it easy to maintain your knowledge base.
Below you can see an example of Cirrus HR Service Desk using Atlassian to easily manage and maintain its knowledge bases.
2. Stay True to Your Brand
Keeping your brand consistent is especially important for an external knowledge base. Your knowledge base is an extension of your product and should represent it. Not only should it include your logo and brand colors, but the way you speak to users should also remain consistent. Users may get confused by discrepancies in things like messaging and aesthetics.
Below you can see a great example of how Airtable uses its branding throughout its knowledge base:
3. Use Interactive Content Types
Because 90% of what humans process is visual, people will process your information better in interactive and graphic formats. Including video tutorials, webinars on the topic, infographics, or even screenshots will increase user interaction.
For example, Buffer uses video tutorials in its knowledge base to make its content more digestable.
You can leverage different types of content creation software to create knowledge content in different interactive formats. A few of those include:
4. Know Your Audience
To create effective knowledge bases, reference your customer information to understand how to write and position your knowledge base articles. It is critical to craft the tone and style of your knowledge base depending on the audience because if fail to understand the content, they’ll reach out to the customer service team — which defeats the purpose of proactively providing a knowledge base in the first place.
5. Track How Your Knowledge Base Is Being Used
By choosing a knowledge base software with analytics and feedback capabilities, you will understand how users engage with your product. Don’t forget to check these metrics and utilize surveys to see how users respond to certain aspects of your program and to continuously work on improving your company’s KM strategy.
Above you can see how organizations can track how their knowledge base is being used with back-end analytics and reporting tools with Document360’s knowledge base platform.
A knowledge base is any company’s secret weapon for keeping internal and external users engaged. So, it makes sense to employ knowledge base software. While possible, doing it yourself takes time and will not give you the software’s abilities and insights.
Learn how Whatfix can provide your organization with a self-service customer and employee knowledge base built directly into your applications by learning more about Whatfix today!
Request a demo to see how Whatfix empowers organizations to improve end-user adoption and provide on-demand customer support