How to Create A Knowledge Base Portal That Your Customers Will Love
For 12% of customers across the globe, not being able to resolve issues on their own, forms the most frustrating aspect of poor service experience. With the mounting expectations of customers for seamless self-service experiences, creating a knowledge base portal that provides instant answers to questions is becoming a need of the hour.
To satisfy customer cravings for self-service, all you need is a carefully-crafted KB portal that customers can access anytime to find answers to questions.
In this article, we explore the best practices to create a self-service knowledge base that your customers will love.
7 Best Practices to Create a Compelling Self-Service Knowledge Base Portal
Self-service customer support can boost customer satisfaction in a significant way. With 70% of customers now expecting companies to provide self-service portals on their website, having a knowledge base has evolved from important to extremely essential.
But not every such portal is effective at helping customers find the solutions they are looking for. For 55% of customers, finding the solutions or answers they need on self-help portals can be a daunting challenge.
That’s why it’s crucial to combine the best elements and build an effective knowledge base that comprises all answers to customer questions.
The following seven best practices will help you to create a self-service knowledge that ticks every box.
1. Keep It Simple and Straightforward
A complex knowledge base is a turn off for customers. Contemporary customers are impatient and demand answers in a matter of seconds. They aren’t going to work hard at doing something that should be easy. They’re more likely to go elsewhere when things are made difficult. (If you put your consumer hat on, you know that’s true.)
So it’s crucial that your knowledge base content is simple, to the point, and addresses customer issues effectively. The information presented should be easy to read and digest.
You can achieve this by organizing the content in a systematic, step-by-step way. Essentially, avoid addressing multiple issues in one article. Instead, present the content in small, easy to understand chunks – each addressing one or two issues.
Use descriptive titles that reflect the issues accurately. This way, KB users can easily locate the relevant articles without getting lost in an ocean of information.
Organize your content in the form of headings and subheadings to help readers skim through articles. Other simple tricks you can apply to keep your knowledge base simple and straightforward are:
- Brevity is key, so keep your content precise and succinct
- Keep your writing active and positive
- Infuse a generous amount of visuals – images, charts, screenshots and videos in your knowledge base
- Make your content scannable by using bullet points and highlighting specific parts of articles
Here’s what a simple knowledge base looks like.
Scroll through this KB, and you will find that it’s extremely easy to navigate. It has bullet points in the right places, a prominent search bar to find information, visuals used correctly, and much more.
Before you begin, you need clarity on the kind of knowledge base you are creating. This will help you determine the type of content to put into it. For instance, if you are building a product manual for your customers, it should include information related to:
- The product’s features and benefits
- Potential problems related to the product and how to fix them
- How to install the product and start using it, and every information that you feel that customers might need.
You can get this data from your product team. So reach out to them, ask questions, and collate the data that is necessary to include.
2. Audit Your Knowledge Base Content Regularly
Once you set up a knowledge base, it’s easy to think that the job is done and dusted. But creating a KB is not an end by itself. You have to continually update it to ensure that it meets the changing needs of your customers.
As your business grows, new products or services will be introduced. This means that customer questions will keep evolving, and they will expect to find solutions to their issues in your knowledge base.
That’s precisely why you need to keep a constant check on the relevance and accuracy of your content.
Audit knowledge base articles regularly to ensure that they are aligned with product or service changes and effectively address current customer issues.
You can have a dedicated team to work on your knowledge base. For instance, a few members of this team can take responsibility for writing and editing content. Others can measure the performance of content using KB software. naturally though, if your company is small, one or two people will cover these tasks.
They can track article health, loopholes in the content, failed keywords, and much more. This information can then be used to make substantial improvements to your portal.
3. Maintain Consistency in Content Format and Structure
Before launching your knowledge base, give considerable focus to the content’s structure and format. This benefits your team as well as customers. While content creation becomes a breeze for your team, information-gathering gets seamless for your customers.
Depending on the size of your organization, different people will participate in creating content for your knowledge base. To ensure consistency, create a set of guidelines pertaining to your content structure so that employees can refer to them every time they work on an article.
Some of the guidelines can be:
- A title that clearly describes the customer issue
- Include walkthroughs or short videos to demonstrate how an issue can be resolved
- Keep paragraphs short. The maximum length is four lines.
- Avoid run-on sentences. These fall under the category of hard work. Remember, your customers want this to be nice and easy.
- Add a feedback survey at the end of every article
- Include additional resources that readers can explore in the middle of an article. These will be similar articles or topics
- Add short and silent feature-specific videos wherever necessary
- Bold and italicize relevant phrases to draw readers’ attention
- Include a maximum of 3 sub-headers in an article
You can also provide guidelines for content creators and editors to follow when developing and publishing your knowledge base. Some of these can be:
- Place critical information at the beginning of an article to save readers from drilling deep every time
- Ensure that actionable steps are provided in chronological order to make it easy for customers to follow them.
- Use tooltips and popups at places where you feel customers might require more explanation
- Cross-link relevant articles for seamless navigation
Consistency in content structure and format delivers an exceptional search experience to customers and ensures that they leave your portal happy and satisfied.
The screenshot of Unleashed’s help center, provided below, is a perfect example. It is well-structured and comprehensive. As you explore it, you will find that it’s a rich mix of valuable information, images, and videos. Relevant articles are cross-linked, and paragraphs are short and easy to understand.
4. Provide Feedback Options to Customers
The primary purpose of creating a knowledge base is to provide support to customers anytime and from anywhere. But there is only one way to tell whether it is serving this purpose or not. You need to regularly gather feedback from your (potential) customers.
A good KB should provide a feedback mechanism where customers can rate your articles and give suggestions right after reading them.
There are various feedback options you can incorporate. For instance, you can ask customers, ‘Did you find this article helpful?’, with a Yes or No button.
Alternatively, you can use the like or dislike buttons to capture customer satisfaction levels. Another effective way of gathering feedback is by nudging customers with the right questions at the right time. For instance, when they are about to leave a page without fully browsing it, or are stuck in a particular section, trying to work their way around.
You can use customer feedback software like Qualaroo to create these simple surveys. You could also target specific visitors by asking them relevant questions. But NEVER interrupt their ongoing search.
Evaluate the data obtained via surveys to gain a holistic understanding of your customers’ requirements. Be sure to use these findings to make changes in your knowledge base content.
5. Make Knowledge Base Traversing a Breeze
When customers experience difficulties using your product or service, the first thing they will do is to head to your self-service portal to fix the issues. (This is the primary reason to have your own KB. If site visitors can’t answer any questions they may have, you will lose a good proportion of them)
A poorly designed knowledge base makes finding information an arduous task for customers. The key to solving this problem is making navigation simple and intuitive. To do this:
- Organize your content into categories
- Have a powerful search system that mimics Google
- Make your content keyword and information-rich
You can even have articles on similar topics interlinked so that customers can easily jump from one article to another. Do not forget the importance of a prominent search bar. Use powerful knowledge base software that allows you to place a search bar on every page of your knowledge base.
Customers can then easily ask their questions and get auto-complete suggestions right when they are typing. This greatly improves the overall customer experience.
6. Focus on Knowledge Base Aesthetics
Creating a knowledge base is an intensive process. A lot of focus goes to the quality of content. So it’s only natural that you might forget about its visual appearance.
Aesthetics are just as important as its content. For customers to be hooked to your portal for long, you need to make it visually attractive.
The process of creating an appealing knowledge base starts with getting dynamic software. Opt for versatile software that offers a variety of designs, colors, themes, and font options.
Pick the right colors and themes that match your brand. Add your company’s logo and brand name, and ensure that the visuals are in sync with your branding guidelines.
7. Facilitate Accessibility Across Devices
A Microsoft study shows that 65% of customers prefer brands whose self-service portals are mobile responsive. More than ever before, customers now want to access self-service on the go.
With a sizable chunk of customers using mobile devices to manage their lives, your knowledge base must be accessible not just on laptops, but also on smartphones and tablets.
If you think about it for a second, when you are doing your initial product and service searches, you’re probably on your mobile, right? That’s why it’s important that you keep the design responsive to different screen sizes. It really needs to work well on all devices, but especially mobile phones. This will enable customers to access help from your knowledge base using any device – laptops, tablets, or mobile phones.
Ready to Build Your Knowledge Base?
If you aim to craft the best-in-class self-service experiences for your customer, just setting up a knowledge base is not enough. You need to go a step further to ensure that it is of superior quality.
That can be done by using the right self-service knowledge base tool that offers options to make your content searchable and well-structured. It should also provide options to turn your content from average to awesome and devise exemplary experiences for customers.
Follow the above-mentioned best practices to create an impressive knowledge base that is the first point of reference as well as a last resort for customers looking for instant help.
Editor’s note: If FAQs aid acquisition, a Knowledge Base aids retention. Our article yesterday was on the first part of the equation. You can read it by clicking here.
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