In this first installment in kare's series on Knowledge-Base Creation & Management, we will shed a bit more light on what a knowledge-base (KB) is and how to create one. We will also explain why it is important to not only create a KB but also to constantly manage it by keeping it updated and ‘au courant’.
What’s a knowledge base (KB)?
When you hear the words ‘knowledge-base’, what do you think of? Do you think of a specific location - either physical or in ‘the cloud’ - where all of the answers to the world’s most pressing questions are answered, such as the meaning of life? Or, are you one of those people who envisions a highly classified location where all of the world’s knowledge is painstakingly created by tiny elves? Neither of these? Well, that’s probably because you’re one of the few people who - with the recent surge in artificial intelligence (AI) - has come to realize the potential benefit of creating, maintaining, and managing a live KB. But for all those readers who have not yet come across the term, here’s a pretty awesome description that clearly encapsulates what it is:
“A knowledge base is a self-serve online library of everything there is to know about your product or service. It puts that library in one easily accessible place. So it’s at everyone’s fingertips, all the time.”
In today’s increasingly connected world, people have started to expect a certain level of customer service that differs drastically from the expectations of the past. Previously it was generally acceptable for companies - assuming they even had a customer service/support department - to only handle customer requests during working hours (typically nine to five). Outside of those hours, it was almost impossible for a customer to get answers to their questions or to find any additional information on a specific product or service.
Nowadays, people want instant access to accurate information, regardless of what time it may be. Imagine that it is 06:00 AM on a Monday morning and you are about to turn the kettle on for your morning coffee. You turn the kettle on but the blue light that you’ve grown accustomed to in the mornings doesn’t illuminate. You try again and again but to no avail. So, you launch the manufacturer’s website on your phone and click on the troubleshooting page of the website to see whether or not there is some existing ‘knowledge’ on the potential reasons why your kettle won’t turn on. Without even needing to speak to a human agent, you proactively find out that one of the main reasons could be that the fuse is malfunctioning and that the company offers you a free return policy. Therefore, you repackage it and send it to the address listed on the website. Done, problem solved - now off to the cafe for a cuppa.
Examples such as the one mentioned above, perfectly illustrate the value of maintaining an up-to-date KB. By making it simple for your customers to find the answers to any product/service-related questions they may have, not only will your customers benefit, but your business will too. How? Well, not only will you avoid the need for your customer support agents to perform the arduous task of responding to repetitive questions, but “you’ll [also] find a knowledge base is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to keep customers happy. It’s the ideal way to handle high-volume, simple interactions.”
I’m sold! But how do I create a KB?
It’s quite simple really. First, you could start off by posting various articles relating to the product or service that your company offers. For example, these pieces of information could come in the form of blogs that explain how someone could use or benefit from your product or service, or they could be articles that highlight your company’s core values. Any type of information that you make available to the public and which relates to your company or provides additional information on its various products/services could be considered knowledge and could be included in a KB.
However, perhaps a good starting point would be to first try and identify the key questions that your existing customers are asking you, and try to address these questions in various posts, blogs, or articles. Once you have identified certain recurring questions, you’ll need to marshal “your organizational knowledge into a cohesive resource, whether that’s a collection of FAQs, a knowledge base, or a full blown support center brimming with every multimedia and interactive resource you can think of.”
Having achieved all of this, the answers that your customers seek will be clearly presented on your company’s website and easily available to them at all times, removing the requirement for future customers to have to contact the members of your customer support team.
Amazing! But what is the difference between a ‘knowledge-base’ and ‘knowledge management’?
Essentially, the main difference between the two is that once you have created a knowledge-base, you need to make sure that it is constantly up-to-date and clearly addressing the issues that relate specifically to existing products/services (not the product that you discontinued at the beginning of the year), as well as new trending questions. This process of ‘managing’ your knowledge base is known as - yup, you guessed it - knowledge management.
However, it is important to note that managing a knowledge-base is not as simple as it sounds. “As technology evolves, knowledge will exist in more and more disparate places. Information gets stuck in email, social media interactions, forum discussions, comments, tickets, and even in the brains of individual service desk agents”. Therefore, it is essential that your KB aggregates this fragmented knowledge and makes it easily accessible to your customers, from within one central location (i.e. the ‘Help Center’ of your website).
Furthermore, to ensure that your knowledge remains as ‘au courant’ as possible, you need to ensure that your team constantly updates its KB to reflect any new ‘trending’ queries that they may be receiving on a weekly/monthly basis. For example, if you found that you received over 100 queries over the past month about how to renew a contract with your company, you could then compose an all-encompassing blog post or article that clearly highlights how to do this. That way, when future customers have similar queries, they should be able to proactively find the answer on your website, thus deflecting the need to contact a human agent.
Due to the rapid development of technology, customers’ expectations have altered dramatically, and “a typical customer has come to expect delivery times and levels of service that they would never have imagined 10 years ago”. Customers are now expecting to be able to get answers to their questions at any time of day, and also expect a certain level of service. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for companies to hone their customer service capabilities, as creating a business that maintains brand loyalty through good customer service has become paramount in today’s competitive landscape.
By successfully creating and managing a KB, you are able to achieve just this. Not only do you enable your customers to proactively answer their own questions, but you also enable them to do so at their own convenience, subsequently boosting your customers’ satisfaction (CSAT) levels. Furthermore, you enable your customer support agents to focus on the more important, value-adding queries by freeing them up from the arduous task of having to respond to repetitive questions.
As the first blog in kare's series on Knowledge-Base Creation & Management, please make sure to revisit our website next week, as we will be writing about how kare's unique artificial intelligence (AI) enabled customer support & service software helps companies gain actionable insights into their KBs.