What is a knowledge base?
A knowledge base is a set of articles about your product or service that can be used to solve related problems or to learn how to use the product or service.
A modern knowledge base is usually a collection of articles that contain text, video, images, etc.
It is usually part of a company’s self-service portal.
Advantages of creating a solid knowledge base
A knowledge base is the best thing that can be instantly useful to your support agents and clients.
Support agents can query the knowledge base and respond quickly to customer questions, rather than spending time asking for guidance or trying various solutions.
Customers can search for answers to their questions in the knowledge base, instead of contacting support and waiting for a response.
No matter how big or small your business is, no matter what industry you are in, you can not go wrong with a knowledge base. After all, seeking answers online is already something natural for your customers.
But what can go wrong is its content. According to a Forrester report, self-service has a better satisfaction rate than virtual agent interaction, but customers often find that “content does not meet customer expectations,” so it’s always necessary to improve content.
There are no pre-defined rules for writing a perfect knowledge base article. You fail, learn, and then repeat.
Here’s a look at what has worked for us (and a little bit of what hasn’t):
Where do you start?
When you are building your knowledge base for the first time, you will have many topics to write about. Some of the following techniques can help you get started with your knowledge base:
At the top of your head, what are the things that most customers ask for your support?
If you’re not sure, read the support requests for the last few weeks or months. Make a list and start adding articles that answer these questions in your knowledge base.
Write down the key things your customers must do to make them see the value of your product.
Write support articles for all steps and organize them based on functionality so that customers who visit your support portal can find them easily. And go through them one after another, like a playlist.
Answering frequently asked questions will help your agents immediately write articles that help new users help you in the long run. We start by writing basic FAQs, writing articles for each new feature that comes out, and linking them to the product.
Before writing an article:
Most of the work on creating a knowledge base article is done before you actually write it.
You need to make sure you understand what you are writing, find problem points and structure the entire article to be easy to read for your client.
Understanding user pain points.
Before writing a tutorial, try the entire step-by-step procedure. Write down where you got stuck, which step was confusing, what made you wait and any other mistakes you made along the way.
If you have too many tickets in your helpdesk, you can also access related ones and find out where users have a problem. That way, you can anticipate problem points and user questions and eliminate them in the article.
Write for the average user
Cater to different kinds of learners
Different people learn differently. Some like to learn using pictures and videos, while others like to experience things step by step. This does not mean that you can fill the article with screenshots. Find out the minimum number of screen shots that will explain the process and whether that particular article deserves a video.
If you have the features, it makes sense to add a video at the end of each article.
While writing the article:
Now that you’ve discovered what you should write and what points it should convey, it’s time to actually write the articles. Here, you should make sure that you stick to some basic principles and really follow your plans.
1) Talk as your users speak. Do not use exaggerated words or technical jargons in your articles. Find out what customers call the feature you’re writing about and use those words in the article and their title.
2) Be direct. Your articles need to be easy to scan and understandable in just one reading. The title and captions should cover what you’re trying to say. If you’re interested in making things look good, customize the design, not the content.
4) Treat each article as a process of mini-onboarding. Start by explaining the feature in simple words. Then use an example to show what the customer can do when they follow their instructions. This way, even if the configuration process is elaborated, users will continue to the end.
5) Bullets and tables are your best friends. Needless to say, formatting solution articles is extremely important. Clearly, differentiate your titles and captions. Divide different sections using a horizontal line. Negrete the action items at each step to make reading easier for readers.
6) Always inform the prerequisites. Do not be difficult for users to discover what a resource cannot do. If your app doesn’t run in IE, say so. If this feature is only on the highest plane, say so. You’re going to save yourself from a lot of pain for being in advance.
7) Nothing is too obvious. Don’t leave aside the smallest details, assuming that’s obvious. Use a table or create annotated screenshots when you want to explain many small things without making the article too long.
8) Do not sell. Selling or upselling in support article.
After writing the article:
You finally finished writing your article. All your work is done, you can move on to the next task and forget that, right? No.
You have not finished writing a support article after it is published. You need to make sure it is useful, updated and well organized.
Scroll through the article you just wrote once more and find out if you can link to other articles in the solution. Next, see other related articles and provide links to the new article.
For example, if your new article is about plans and billing, you can link it to what’s on the payment options. This helps readers navigate easily (even if they get there by mistake) and increases the chances of the article being found in search engines.
Actively listen to feedback and improve
A few days after your article is published, you can find out if your article is actually helping your agents and customers. Did you reduce the number of questions about this feature? Are other agents using this article to support your answers? If not, why?
Writing a knowledge base article – Checklist
To summarize, here are the steps you need to do to write a knowledge Base article:
- Finalize The topics you need to cover
- Structure the articles in an easily consumable format
- Write with the average user in mind
- Add screenshots and videos, especially when explaining something complex
- Be broad and specific to help all types of users
- Format your articles
- Connect them
- Get feedback from readers and improve them
A knowledge Base article cannot be perfect immediately, it is perfected with time as you update it based on feedback received from readers and support agents.