Many organisations deploy a knowledge base thinking it will help them reduce calls into the contact centre. And in most cases it does just that. Or at least it does initially.

Knowledge bases are living things. Just like plants in your garden, knowledge bases need to be fed and watered from time to time to keep them alive. This means reviewing, refreshing and adding content to your knowledge base to meet your customers’ changing needs.

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Fortunately, today’s knowledge bases include some smarts that help you make sure content is up to date and relevant to your customers. If your knowledge base doesn’t have these features, maybe it is time to look at other options. Many organisations use custom designed systems, often built on old technologies such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Lotus Notes, which don’t cut it with today’s ‘Google’ generation. These older platforms don’t have advanced search algorithms. They simply match user searches to words in the content, and the higher the number of matches, the higher the ranking in the search results. Modern platforms learn what users click on for a particular search term, taking into account how often and recent the content was accessed. This results in the most relevant content being brought to the surface for users without the need to try a range of search terms.

Here are seven steps to growing a thriving knowledge base that keeps your customers (and contact centre team) happy:

Step 1. Seed your knowledge base.

Customers will only use a knowledge base if it contains relevant content. To kick off a successful knowledge base deployment, talk to your contact centre agents and pick the top 20 common questions that they get from callers. Start there.

Don’t be tempted to launch a knowledge base without enough content. Customers won’t use your knowledge base again if they couldn’t find information the first time they used it.

Step 2. Tell your customers what isn’t in your knowledge base.

Sometimes the answer to a question is, we don’t offer that service, or, that product isn’t available. If your customers are looking for an item and don’t find it searching the knowledge base, they may contact you on a more expensive channel.

Step 3. Use your customers’ language.

Too often we see knowledge bases that contain words like ‘malfunction’ or ‘failure’. This is how technical people describe problems. It is important to think like a customer and use simple, everyday language, for example, terms like ‘broken’ and ‘not working’. That is how your customers will search for things, so put yourself in their shoes when you write your knowledge base.

Step 4. Understand what your customers are searching for.

I mentioned above that intelligent knowledge bases help you understand what is relevant to customers. They do this by tracking every search made, giving you an insight into the types of information that customers expect to find. Read the search reports regularly and ensure that the top searches return relevant results.

Step 5. Review the content regularly.

Set yourself a target to review every knowledge base item on a regular basis. One approach could be to add a review date to each item, and ensure that you check each knowledge item to ensure it is up to date and accurate. If your knowledge base answers display the date on which they were last
updated, make sure you make regular updates. Answers that haven’t been updated for five years are not a good look, even if the answer is still valid!

Step 6. Remove unnecessary content.

Good knowledge bases allow you to sort content by the date it was last viewed. Identify the items that your customers haven’t viewed and delete them. This will also help reduce the number of answers that you’ll need to review in Step 5.

Step 7. Anticipate future customer needs.

If you are launching a new product, ensure you have the necessary answers in your knowledge base before the product is available for sale. Remember that customers will search for an answer, and if they can’t find it, will give up and likely go to a competitor’s website.

Implement these simple steps and your knowledge will empower your customers to self-help. Not only will you deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction, you’ll save a bundle of money through reduced volumes of calls into your contact centre.