When it comes to customer support, customers care about two things: speed and accuracy.
There are many ways to boost the speed at which a support team can respond to incoming tickets. You have the option of hiring more support staff, implementing new software or tools designed to improve efficiency, or you can even work to build on the tools you have in place now, especially your knowledge base.
Recently, Forethought’s CEO Deon Nicholas sat down to chat with Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations, award-winning keynote speaker, and NYT and Wall Street Journal best-selling business author, to discuss tactics that could impact positive customer success and growth.
One of the tactics discussed was building on a company’s knowledge and leveraging that knowledge in the best way possible to better serve customers.
Today let’s chat about leveraging and improving a company’s knowledge base in order to boost customer success.
What Is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base is a centralized database of information and a self-serve online library filled with information about a product, service, department, or topic. Most knowledge bases are encyclopedia-like, meaning they’re full of everything you would need to know about a company.
The data in your knowledge base can come from anywhere; think FAQs, company one-pagers, Google Docs, agent notes, and any other information put together by your company.
Typically the articles created for a knowledge base come from people within the organization who are well-versed in the relevant topics being written about. In customer support, your agents would likely produce some of these articles.
A knowledge base can also serve as an internal resource where employees can find the information they need for anything related to internal company dealings.
Why Are Knowledge Bases Important?
A knowledge base is one of the most important resources to customer support teams and their organizations. In today’s world, people are constantly seeking out information, and they demand easy and instant access to accurate information.
Having centralized knowledge can improve customer relationships and customer perception. But customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from a knowledge base; various teams within an organization can utilize the information in a knowledge base to better do their jobs or find information they may need.
Best Practices For Leveraging a Knowledge Base
In order to keep and maintain a knowledge base, there are a few practices you should follow. Following these best practices will allow your organization to better leverage the information provided in your knowledge base. Your customers and support agents will be glad you did it!
Do the articles in your knowledge base all follow the same format or outline? Or are they all different, lacking consistency?
A best practice for a knowledge base would be to improve consistency across it. Ensure that you’re following a format across all articles and that you’re providing roughly the same information for each article that is written. Following a format makes things look more professional and makes it easier to navigate.
You’ll also want to ensure you’re segmenting your content in a way that is also easily navigable. Most knowledge bases tend to be broken up by the following:
- By topic
- By product
- By audience
- By complexity
- By category
Figuring out how to implement consistency will allow you to leverage your knowledge base to its fullest.
Form a Base
If you don’t have a knowledge base at all, then you’ll need to create the base for one. You’ll need to figure out what it’ll cover, who will be providing the information for it, and where you’re going to store it. As it expands you’ll want to determine what additional information should be added and how you can continue adding to it in a way that is sustainable for your product or service.
Having a basis for what will be in the knowledge base will allow you to format it how you see best fit and grow it well.
What we see a lot with companies trying to improve their knowledge bases, is often just adding information to it. But who is writing all the information? Most of the time it’s support agents. The purpose of a knowledge base is to assist customers, or anyone really, in self-serving customer support, so it makes sense that the agents answering the queries are the ones determining whether a query is worth creating a knowledge base article for.
If you want to improve your knowledge base to boost customer success then you’ll need to collaborate with other departments in order to write fully-fledged articles that answer and hit every pain point possible.
This could look like syncing with product marketing teams and sales in order to truly nail the most frequently requested information regarding your product or service.
Keep Things Simple
As much as you want to provide every detail possible for an article, you also want to keep things simple. This can be hard to master if you’ve been at an org long enough to have a high-level comprehension on how things work and want to provide every detail. But in-depth detail could actually confuse customers. The better alternative is to break up your content into multiple articles.
You can do this two ways: by keeping language simple and by only addressing one question or topic per article. What’s the tone of the article being written? Is it easy to digest? Could someone not familiar with your industry understand what you’re trying to say?
Another thing you can do when putting together a new article is to consider if you are answering a new question with the information you’re providing.” If the information is all relevant to the one question or topic being addressed in a knowledge base article then you can be confident it’s kept simple.
Everyone loves a visual. If it makes sense to include visuals in knowledge base articles for your organization, then do it!
As vital as written information is for a knowledge base, not everyone will want to consume details in the same manner. This is where videos and graphics can make the biggest impact for customer success.
Videos are great for how-to guides, tips, feature updates, tutorials, and thought leadership articles – so really, anywhere you’ve written an article you can probably create a video.
Creating videos is also a great marketing tactic that can help you expand on your current knowledge base and allow for distribution of that relevant content.
If a video isn’t necessary, then consider making graphics that are relevant to the information in the knowledge article. These can help improve traffic to the page and make the information more digestible. At the end of the day, your knowledge base is designed to help your customers and you want to do everything you can to make that process easy for them.
Ask For Feedback
Another great way to improve your company’s knowledge base is to ask for feedback. Feedback from customers, employees, executives. Analyzing the feedback you receive can enable better strategies for building the knowledge base and let you know if the information in each article is actually helping the person reading it.
Asking for feedback will give you better insight into what’s working, what needs to be improved, and what needs to be expanded.
A simple way to see if an article is helpful is to include a survey at the bottom of the page that asks, “Did you find this information useful?” with a thumbs up or thumbs down. We’ve also seen companies ask for feedback directly at the bottom of an article. No matter what you do, asking for feedback will allow you to receive direct feedback about the effectiveness of your knowledge base content.
All of these best practices are meant to build and improve the knowledge base you currently have. When your knowledge base is consistently formatted, answers questions thoroughly and succinctly, and is easily navigable, then it’s time to take things to the next level.
Leverage your knowledge base to its fullest and boost customer success with the power of artificial intelligence.
Customer service AI has come a long way and is now sophisticated enough to understand the intent and sentiment behind a customer inquiry. Customers don’t always want to self-serve their support needs and would rather get support through a chat. You can implement customer support AI software that automatically answers repetitive customer questions using the very information in your knowledge base.
Tools like Forethought Solve assist agents in answering live chat questions by assisting them in pulling up the most relevant and accurate information based on past tickets and your knowledge base. If a support ticket can’t be automatically answered by a chat then an agent can come in to assist and still leverage artificial intelligence to answer the question.
Making the Most of CX
Your customers are the driving force behind your business. Boost their success and customer experience by improving every interaction and touchpoint along the way.
By following these best practices you’ll amaze your customers with your consistency and ability to help them over and over again.
If you’re interested in learning about 6 other tactics your support team can use to drive growth through customer service, check out this webinar featuring Shep Hyken.