Create a product knowledge base

Contributors

@jamaicawinshipgmail-com @andreea-macoveiciuc-content-expert @danielisler1gmail-com


Business Benefits

Provide customers the answers to their common problems and reduce customer service work loads.


Separate your product help pages from your product knowledge base.

A knowledge base should be led, owned, and updated by your customer service team. It’s a self-service tool for your customers and provides scenario-based solutions to common situations, and answers frequently asked questions that your customer service team receives. A knowledge base is more specific and might delve into how to use your product/tool in a certain situation or to solve a specific problem. Asana’s knowledge base tackles specific scenarios, such as what to do if you accidentally delete a project, or how to fix common problems when using your Asana mobile app.

In contrast, product help pages should be owned by your product team. These pages focus on technical information and basic use of your main tools, products or services. Product support pages are like a product manual and deal with basic, straightforward situations, such as setup and usage of main features. Take Asana’s product guide as an example.

Identify your knowledge base objectives.

Your knowledge base can narrow in on specific topics, or be a broader repository of information. Example objectives include:

  • Providing step-by-step guides on setting up, using, integrating, and troubleshooting your product or service.
  • Explaining product applications and case studies.
  • Outlining in greater detail features, benefits, price plans, guarantees, and other marketing information.
  • Offering information about your company or brand, your team, your goals, and other corporate activities.

Choose the core structure and format for your knowledge base.

Will it be:

Whatever route you take, each knowledge base article or question should:

  • Describe the issue, question or task.
  • Provide a step-by-step process to complete the task or answer the question.
  • Outline a clear result and benefit.
  • Provide related resources, including similar questions and knowledge base articles.

Create content models or templates that will guide your team’s content creation and ensure knowledge base articles have a cohesive look and feel to them when you build and launch your knowledge base.

Based on the structure and format you’ve chosen, create templates for each type of knowledge base article you’ll be creating. This should include the basics:

  • Title structure: Include details such as capitalization, length, and any other voice, tone and style elements that are important for your brand. For example, if your knowledge base is in the form of an FAQ, the title of each article should be a clear question that users commonly ask. Include details such as capitalization, length, and any other voice, tone, and style elements that are important for your brand.
  • Body structure: The most critical information should always come first, followed by a chronological list of steps that the user will need to follow.
  • Notes on must-have assets: If you have a preferred word count, specify it. If you want the writer of each knowledge base article to also link to specific references or resources, note that. Your template should have all the examples and guidance your team needs when they create the knowledge base articles.

Watch for trends in customer questions or complaints to help determine what topics should be in your knowledge base.

If your team isn’t already tracking trends and documenting common issues or customer concerns, now is the time to do so. Customer support platforms like Zendesk, Help Scout, and Freshdesk all have internal reporting that can alert your teams about trends in customer complaints, questions and outreach.

If your customer interactions are all manual via phone, social media, or email, have your team keep a log of the questions that customers are submitting. Look for trends like:

  • Repeated questions from customers that can be answered in one or two emails or social media replies. If the solution is as simple as a few replies, it’s an easy addition to your knowledge base.
  • Internal site searches, if you have a search feature installed on your website. For example, in Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Search > Overview to see commonly asked questions. Address these in your knowledge base.
  • High customer churn or low customer uptake because a feature is misunderstood, or people are struggling to use your tool effectively. To counter this, add best practices, tips and suggestions to your knowledge base.

Create your content with your customer service team and internal experts leading the development process.

Each month, review customer support trends with your customer service team. If your team receives a high volume of correspondence, consider increasing your review frequency to weekly or biweekly until the correspondence volume begins to decrease.

Identify questions that keep coming up, but aren’t addressed in your knowledge base. Assign these questions to your content team and have them write the knowledge base articles according to your templates or models.

Build your knowledge base using your existing content management system or a third-party provider that provides a knowledge base-specific platform, with an emphasis on discoverability and navigation.

Make sure your knowledge base is:

  • Easy to find from your main website and support pages: Link to it in all main navigation menus, include it in automated support emails and welcome emails, and make sure it’s highlighted on your contact pages to encourage your customers to try and solve their questions themselves, before reaching out to your team.
  • Features the most important information on its front page: The front page, above-the-fold content should be the questions, concerns, and requests for advice that are most commonly sent to your team.
  • Makes it easy to browse and search for specific questions or topics: Consider features like a knowledge base-specific search tool, and links to similar topics within each knowledge base article.