5 Tips on How to Master Knowledge Base Customer Support

March 1, 2018 Rusty Langford

Customers continue to take empowerment in their own hands and seek out self-service—web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots.

Welcome to our second post about customer support channels to master this year.

There’s a lot of talk about using new and impressive technologies—like artificial intelligence-driven chatbots and virtual reality—to improve support and the customer experience. But it's important not to forget to neglect the basics before moving on to the next shiny object.  

We've already talked about how to make the most of social media to support your customers. Moving on, let's take a look at challenges of and tips for creating an effective knowledge-base (KB) self-help platform.

Knowledge Base Support

Customers continue to take their issues into their own hands and seek out self-service—web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots—as a first point of contact with a company. Dimension Data reports growth in every digital channel. 

A growing number of customers feel empowered to help themselves. In this case, a thoughtful and consistently up-to-date self-help section on a website is ideal. There are a lot of FAQs and issues that are relatively easy to solve, and you can pick these off quickly by making content discoverable, simple-to-use and effective.

There is a certain portion of your customer base that want self-guided solutions. If you’re able to answer customer questions readily in what more and more frequently is becoming the channel of choice, you’ll be able to reduce costs while also satisfying the customer.

Challenges of Knowledge Base Support

While this channel proves optimal for both customer and clients, there are still some challenges to overcome:

Creating consumable, well-written, up-to-date content

First off, you must create good content to populate and consistently update your KB with a consistent voice throughout. Customer-facing KB articles are NOT the same as what you use for your contact center agents. Customer-facing content needs to be written in simple, easy-to-follow and the "right" technical level of your audience. 

Keeping the digital experience up-to-date with continuous improvements

Your knowledge base must also be current from a technology and user experience standpoint. Responsive design is a must. You should also incorporate data about customer usage to improve ease of use and efficacy. Don't forget to continually incorporate feedback—you should use usage data and other feedback about the KB experience from both internal (agents) and external (customers) to help you to optimize the site. Also, you should use data to proactively offer the most searched, most helpful and or recently trending KB articles.

How to Make the Most of Knowledge Base Support

Got your own KB? Want to create one for your customers? Here are some tips on how to continually get the most out of your KB customer support program.

Grading the Performance

Monitor exit percentage and usage rates monthly. This will allow you to drill down and update poor-performing content. Monitoring the exit percentage (e.g. the percent of people that searched for an answer and whose last action was finding and viewing that answer) allows you to grade the effectiveness of content.

Think Visual

Create user-guided assist/step-through articles for troubleshooting. Keep in mind the importance of visual learning. Adding in helpful images such as photos, graphics or videos creates a more well-rounded experience for customers. Also, think about providing content your customer can share via social channels.

Stay Consistent

Make sure you provide consistently correct answers across all channels. This ensures you have a single knowledge base (note: this applies to all of your channels: social, voice, email, KB, etc.) when you create, fix or update an article. You can have different versions depending upon the channel, but they must all have the same updated information.

Mind the Gaps

Survey your internal agents for incidents in which they could not find an article to help. Create new content based upon these gaps.

Customer Feedback

Lastly, it never hurts to ask the simple question of your customers: “was this article helpful?” They’re the most important user in this whole process, and this question allows you to continually improve to both of your benefits. 

Knowledge Base Support Done Right

Both HBO Now and Volvo feature two top-performing KB sites. Wisely, they each use analytics to apply constant updates and new articles. 

HBO has organized content into useful sections that allows customers to access basic account functions, FAQs, troubleshooting issues, as well as more involved (yet self-manageable) technical issues.

Moving far beyond a dense, unwieldy owner’s manual, Volvo’s site provides answers to common questions, helpful videos and useful information for customers and their specific model of vehicle.

There you have it. By being aware of the challenges and tackling them with best practices, you can set up a solid KB channel that helps your customers help themselves. And that’s got to feel good! 

Check back next time for our third and final piece on customer support channels as we'll look at using video as a support resource.

About the Author

Rusty Langford

In his twenty-five plus years in the customer services industries, Rusty has been involved in all aspects of direct marketing and customer management. He is currently responsible for client management for all contact center programs at Harte Hanks. He has a broad array of customer experiences, including traditional customer support, multichannel support (including social support programs), lead management and web-based initiatives for clients like Samsung, Microsoft, Major League Baseball, HBO and Barnes & Nobel.

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