Business Practices | | Published January 29, 2015

Customer Support Knowledge Base: Evaluate Your Online Information

As customer service reps, our jobs are to address a customer’s issues as fully and as quickly as possible. In a perfect world we would sit with each and every customer in person and tell them what to do the moment something goes wrong. This way not only would they have no time to get frustrated, they would also be impressed by the instant assistance.

But of course in reality we can’t actually do this. We can, however, do the next best thing and offer as many resources to them as possible so that to them, it’s just like having us sitting right next to them. When they have a problem, they know exactly where to go so barely a moment goes by before their solution is fixed.

That is what a knowledgebase does. In terms of customer support, the knowledgebase should be an integrated part of your help desk software in order to be the most efficient tool for both customers and support reps. The key is in having the right information, and the right amount of information, in your knowledgebase so that it can accurately and quickly solve problems for your customers.

Here are some considerations when evaluating your knowledgebase:

Does It Cover The Basics?

A truly optimized knowledgebase system isn’t designed to solve only complex issues. It also covers the basics. While you may think of a knowledgebase mainly as a tool for complex machinery or “instruction heavy” products, it can be used for everything from simple how-to instructions and answers to common questions, to in-depth technical information. Really, anything that requires a few steps will ultimately stump one or more of your customers, and those are the emails and phone calls that bog down your support team when they could be working on more complex issues.

So take the opportunity to establish some “how to” sections within your knowledgebase software (like the one Team Support offers!). A quick search will help any of your customers get the instructions they need to start their journey with your product without having to call into customer support.

Is It Trying To Do Too Much?

One misconception is that your knowledgebase should instantly be able to answer every question the customer has. If that was the case, there would be absolutely no reason to have customer reps! The truth is you can’t answer every single question or issue your customers will have; there are far too many possibilities, and you will always be surprised with what they come up with. Further, trying to make your knowledgebase the be-all and end-all will just leave you with too much information to stay on top of, and the system will quickly become outdated and frustrating for customers to use.

So how do you optimize your customer support knowledgebase? Rather than trying to address every question, focus on the most common questions that come in to your support desk. If something gets asked over and over again, it’s obviously a common issue. Instead of making every customer go through the hassle of creating a ticket and waiting for a reply in order to get the answer, add it to the knowledgebase so they have the information at their fingertips.

Complicated Issues

What about those complicated fixes that come up from time to time? Maybe there’s a minor bug in your software that only happens when X, Y, and Z all happen at the same time. While again there’s no way to capture every single issue, a good, intuitive knowledgebase will have enough information to address the major ones. Ideally your support ticketing system will feed the knowledgebase, so that the first time the issue comes up it can be tagged and/or added to the knowledgebase for future reference. It is usually up to customer support reps to keep this info updated with the most pertinent issues.

Is it Intuitive?

Finally, your knowledgebase system must be adept enough to figure out what customers want. When they search for “automated workflows,” your knowledgebase should be comprehensive enough to recognize that this could also mean “ticket automation” or “ticket deflection”. That said, if the match parameters are too broad it will return too many results. A knowledgebase is useless if it just gives a bunch of links that don’t have anything to do with the customer’s search, so try to design it to be intuitive. The idea of a knowledgebase is to make your customers’ lives easier, not more complicated.

Note: Don’t Rely On It Too Much

Of course you should always offer an alternative to auto-responses and knowledge base articles; some customers simply want to talk to a real live human being, and that’s fine. For many of your customers, though, getting their answers online can get them back on the right track faster, in turn making them happy to keep using your product or service.

Want to learn more about effective knowledge base management for customer support? Download our white paper series: Knowledge Management Best Practices for Customer Support