How to Build a Knowledge Base: Software & Best Practices
Efficient knowledge base software can be useful for every kind of business in various ways. It can help promote transparency between different departments, increase the effectiveness of operations, and improve customer service. Such benefits mean that your business saves precious time on core tasks and cuts expenditure on various fronts. It also means a growth in profits and a great rapport with your customers.
But, how does one actually organize information and content in a knowledge management system? The answer: knowledge management tools.
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What is a knowledge base?
A knowledge base is an online collection of helpful information and articles surrounding a business or topic. These could be informative texts, videos, audio, tutorials, and similar kinds of content. Knowledge software is characterized by a number of user-friendly features, like being easily navigable and returning useful results. It is highly useful within an organization for both business and customer service purposes.
Building an effective knowledge management system
Building a collection of useful materials takes time and effort. Essentially, the purpose is to make information easy to find, edit, understand, apply, and control. The principles that drive the building of an effective knowledge management system are:
- Ease of use
- Ease of navigation
- Productive in finding relevant information
- Maximally helpful to the user
- Easy to update
- Smoothly managed
Simultaneously, you need to consider time and effort efficiency for building content and sharing knowledge – software designed specifically for this purpose will save you tons of time and effort. Thus, knowledge management tools like Stepsy, Zendesk, or Inkling Knowledge will be more than helpful in creating an effective knowledge base. To define which one is the most suitable for you, read on.
How to build a knowledge base: Best Practices
There are several steps towards building an effective knowledge base:
1. Understand the purpose of your knowledge base
Are you trying to provide the best technical support to your customers? Do you wish to train your employees in a new program that will make them more productive? What is the purpose of your knowledge base software?
Chances are you’re looking to do more than one of these things. Knowledge management system needs to have some core functions. Understanding what these core functions are to your business will help you figure out an approach that is most suitable for your organization.
An excellent place to start is answering the most common customer or employee issues. These can be in the form of FAQs, simple training manuals, complex SOPs and runbooks, or some informative articles. To know what to answer, you can go through the questions your employees put or receive on a daily basis from customers. Building a document to tackle these issues will cut the costs of answering separate emails and repeated calls.
2. Build content for your knowledge base
According to stats from Forrester, 73% of American adults feel that it is essential for companies to value their time while providing online customer service. The first step towards effective online customer service is building appropriate content. It should answer the questions of the users in a way that is easily perceived and comprehended. Therefore, the essential things to note while building the content for your knowledge base system is that it should be useful, easy to understand and implement, and engaging.
Tips for creating good content
It is common to find walls of text in blog posts or tutorials, mainly when it deals with technicalities and general information about a product. Remember: this is NOT helpful to someone who is looking for a quick solution. Knowledge management system should, therefore, focus on a wide variety of visuals.
- Images are very practical means of getting information across to the user. Having the right balance between written instructions and pictures will go a long way in improving the user experience.
- Screenshots are worth mentioning as a separate category here – they are extremely useful for knowledge base articles which frequently represent step-by-step how-to guides.
Actually, all these visuals can be easily and quickly developed with Stepsy knowledge software.
The information should also be conveyed in a language that is easy to understand. If the information is to be absorbed effectively, it should be in the concise and explicit language.
With these goals in mind, you now need a plan for your knowledge base.
3. Structure your knowledge base system
A knowledge base needs to be versatile and flexible in its structure. This means that:
- Content needs to be easy to find
- Searches should provide only relevant material
- Content needs to be easy to update
- The structure needs to be changeable
These pointers are a result of a long-term thinking process. Nonetheless, they are essential and knowledge management tools are built to satisfy these needs. An accurate understanding of the content and goals of your knowledge base allows you to create an optimal structure for your system. It will help you understand how to build your base, which knowledge software to use, what kind of info to provide in each document, and how to link your files together.
4. Improve the functionality of a knowledge base
It is essential to make sure a user finds only relevant material when they search a query in the knowledge base. This improves customer satisfaction and employee productivity and can be achieved using AI and a personalized feed, which recognizes the needs of the user and provides accurate information.
Cross-linking within a knowledge management system allows a user to access related information quickly. Labeling files with corresponding tags and implementing multiple levels of categorization will segregate similar information together. The customer can more easily find information this way.
Other features of a well-designed knowledge base software are chat boxes and inline commenting. Customers and employees can ask questions and leave comments if they need to share and/or discuss their feedback or issue. Viewers can receive real-time assistance from company employees, or at the earliest depending on work timing. Inline commenting in a knowledge base allows employees to communicate with each other on the progress and quality of their work. In projects, this can help smoothen the creases out sooner when feedback is provided at all the necessary locations.
5. Regularly update your knowledge base
Flexibility is an essential feature of knowledge software which means that your knowledge base is easy to maintain. In other words, your knowledge management system is conducive towards updates and additions to the structure of its content. Information needs to be constantly updated so that it includes the latest and accurate data. As your range of products, their versions and features, as well as in-company knowledge, software base, grow and evolve, your knowledge base software will have to support these changes in the same way. So it’s important that the basic structure and functionality allow such changes.
Knowledge base software
There are many knowledge base software tools to help you build a knowledge base customized to fit the needs of your organization. Knowledge software allows you to convey information, create projects, and control documentation, all in real time. They are designed to help improve the efficiency and productivity in a knowledge sharing website. You can create a knowledge base using top-notch knowledge base software like Stepsy, Zendesk, or Inkling Knowledge. I won’t tell you what features each of these knowledge management tools has – you can read it on their websites just by clicking on the name of the knowledge base software you’re interested in. However, I’d be glad to explain which knowledge management tools and features are the most helpful in particular cases.
- Stepsy is a super easy and multifunctional knowledge management tool as it comprises the functions of SnagIt, Fleeq, and Cloud App. With this knowledge base software, you can create a guide for your customer, colleague, or partner to explain to them how to accomplish a particular procedure, for instance, how to upgrade to a new version or how to import files in your tool. The extension automatically captures and records all your steps in the form of a screenshot and description for each and inserts them into a Google Doc.
Perfect for those whose team wants to deliver step-by-step guides fast and easy and need various exporting and sharing options for a knowledge base for both customers and employees.
- Zendesk belongs to knowledge management tools designed for building an ideal customer experience. You can discuss your knowledge base with the customers right in the app using various channels like email, chat, phone, or social media. Zendesk Guides also offers integration with Zendesk Support and bots to improve the productivity of your customer support for additional costs. The main features for the knowledge base creation and management itself carry out the same functions as described above knowledge management tools. What is unique, this knowledge software suggests 40 languages for communicating with the customers in their language. However, overall price for relevant Zendesk features for 5 users costs much more than, for instance, all-in-one StepShot Guides PRO version for 5 seats.
Perfect for those who are aimed at enhancing the productivity of the Customer Support Department with a knowledge management system.
- Inkling Knowledge is more focused on communication with your teammates, unlike Zendesk. It’s a content management platform where you create content built to be responsive for any device and share it with your colleagues. The product makes a boast of intelligent search and advanced analytics and emphasizes it’s suitable for restaurants, retail, and other enterprise learning. Similarly to Stepsy, this mobile enterprise learning platform also claims it can be used for creating and sharing SOPs as a part of a knowledge base. Still, Stepsy is an easier knowledge software for creating SOPs, runbooks and other screenshot-based documentation.
Perfect for those whose needs in a knowledge base software are related to in-company knowledge sharing rather than customer support.
What does knowledge base software do?
Knowledge base software can be used by a large organization to collaborate on the project and send updates to each other, to create help centers for customers, or to share other knowledge base articles with co-workers, customers, or partners. Knowledge software promotes effective communication between different departments and levels within the organization. It can be used to train new employees and familiarise them with main business processes. They can also be utilized to access critical and relevant information by team leaders. If shared with customers, knowledge bases and help centers assist Customer Support Agents in providing information on the product or service. Knowledge management tools allow the creation of dynamic and demonstrative content, aimed at both employees/partners and customers of a business enterprise.
Roughly 6 out of 10 U.S. consumers opt for online customer service rather than the traditional phone call, according to stats from the American Express. People like to search up their queries on the internet because of how immediate finding a solution can be. In this way, a knowledge base can significantly improve customer service. By implementing various smart features into the user interface, customers can easily find answers, tutorials, and other helpful information in an online knowledge base. It improves the ease with which their problems are solved, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.
Still, providing a database of useful articles that are tailored in an easy-to-read format isn’t an easy task. A knowledge management system is ideally filled with content in different formats like images, text, and video. Content needs to be structured to fit multiple levels of categorization, so that the information is easy to find. For this reason, as well as for higher efficiency and effectiveness of a knowledge management system, mentioned above knowledge management tools like Stepsy should be used.
Knowledge management tools: To buy or not to buy?
Apparently, you can use free knowledge management tools and platforms for creating, storing, and sharing your knowledge base. For example, you can use a default Microsoft Snipping Tool, a simple image editor, and a word processor to create a document, store it locally on your device or any limited Cloud space, and share it wherever possible as a simple document or image. Isn’t it more favorable to save up to 90% of your time with Stepsy and create a doc in minutes with multiple opportunities for its exporting to various formats and sharing to numerous locations? Do the math yourself.
Since most customer services will now take place online, it is crucial to have a respectable database of information that helps clients and employees alike. When built with care and forethought, a knowledge base shall push your business to greater heights and growth. Focusing on building an effective knowledge management system can do wonders to establish loyal relationships with customers. The same goes for a system that aids employee onboarding and communication within the organization. I believe all this stuff can demonstrate how important knowledge bases and knowledge management tools are for your company.
Just choose the most suitable knowledge base software for you and go for it!
April 14, 2023