In an era where information is generated, circulated, and shared at a dizzying rate, the need for businesses to find an exceptional way to manage and impart information has never been more important. As our world gets faster, the expectations of the customer climb higher. The need for swift, comprehensive yet personal attention is paramount to today’s culture of commerce. Customer service knowledge base technology resides at the center of facilitating the kind of optimal service consumers now desire.
What Is a Knowledge Base?
An evolution from the more commonly known, “database,” a knowledge base is a specialized library of information used to generate, maintain and deliver a range of company or brand documentation and functions.
Knowledge bases have become increasingly critical to the virtual customer service space and to the overall success of a brand. User-guides, demo videos, FAQ pages, troubleshooting or any other service-related information is ‘housed’ within the knowledge base. Unlike its predecessor, a knowledge base doesn’t just store information, it focuses, manages and activates the content so it can be accessed and utilized by staff and consumers alike.
Considering it takes an average of 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one poor experience, and with nearly $62 billion in lost revenue every year due to poor service or gaps in service, generating the confluence a knowledge base can offer is the key to a robust, thriving brand. When service feels effortless yet personal, and isn’t marred by multiple steps or departments to find answers or resolution, the customer feels that they, their time and money is valued, thereby dramatically increasing the likelihood of return business and positive word of mouth.
A company that can successfully impart brand information in an easy, user-friendly way for their customers is poised to set a customer service precedent and take their place as an industry leader. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between the knowledge base and the human beings interacting with it.
Knowledge Base Basics
According to Qualtrics XM only 1 in 5 customers will forgive a poor brand experience if the service is also perceived as “very poor,, while 80% will forgive a poor experience if the service is considered “very good.” So while it can seem like there are innumerable options for the customer, that 80% is a clear indication that regardless of how many choices are available in today’s market, there are pathways for a brand to truly stand apart.
Equally, if you aren’t creating an exceptional customer experience, given today’s expansive retail landscape, taking business elsewhere is all too easy. That path to distinction begins with a comprehensive knowledge base. According to statistics gathered by Microsoft, 90% of American consumers consider customer service to be the determining factor in deciding where to shop or do business.
This infrastructure or library of information provides the consumer with the ability to access brand and product information on their own time and according to their own schedules. Also, as research continues to show, most customers prefer self-service rather than having to call or email during regular business hours. A thoughtfully designed knowledge base can provide the best aspects of old-school, pre-internet customer service (care, attention, efficiency, continuity) but is articulated and implemented for use in the modern age.
Internal, External or Both? That Is the Question
Knowledge base is one solution that boosts success for two avenues: customers and staff. An internal knowledge base is home to information meant to be used by employees (i.e. staff training guides, tools and company policies). The external knowledge base contains all the information meant for users visiting the company website. Additionally, the external knowledge base can interact directly with the visiting user. It’s possible for a company to have only internal, only external, or a combination of both.
The well organized and updated internal knowledge base is the ideal training resource for new employees. With all company and training materials stored in one place, new hires can easily access the most up-to-date information and locate answers to any questions they themselves might have. Consistently updated content stored in the knowledge base ensures everyone is referencing the same information, further maintaining and supporting brand continuity. Depending on the topic of a given customer conversation, certain customer service tools can even intelligently surface knowledge base information to agents with the help of AI.
Bridging the External With the Internal
Beyond the benefits of satisfying the customer, an external knowledge base has proven to be wonderful support for support agents. Countless hours can be saved when customers are able to access information on their own to questions or concerns. For example, a comprehensive knowledge base eliminates the need for service inquiries to address questions about return policies, hours of operation, product details and basic how-to information. This frees up employees to handle more complex issues while saving them from having to repeat the same, standard information throughout the workday.
In turn, when the customer is seeking assistance directly with an employee, the well-managed knowledge base facilitates that support. When employees have an easy time accessing the pertinent information and are able to fully assist, customers feel heard, appreciated, and grateful. This reciprocity builds trust and is a cornerstone to building brand loyalty and cultivating a productive work environment. The more that staff is empowered to help, the better the take-away and word of mouth from the customer. Given that, according to a comprehensive study by Qualtrics XM, 94% of American consumers will recommend a brand based on “very good” customer service, word-of-mouth among shoppers and patrons should never be underestimated. In fact, word of mouth remains one of the strongest marketing tools as it tends to land directly with your target audience, it’s free.
Key Internal Data Examples:
- Onboarding Materials
- Company Policies
- Process Documentation
- Coding Practices
- Content Guidelines
- Product Manuals
- Shareable Google Drive Folder
Key External Data Examples:
- Troubleshooting Information
- Return/Exchange Policies
- Company Contact Information
- Employment Opportunities
- Press Kits
- Recent Announcements
- Downloadable Catalogs
How Do We Optimize While Still Creating a Personalized Customer Experience?
Creating self-service customer support allows a brand to address recurring themes, questions, and issues without burdening staff. Plus, a study by Forrester concluded that 90% of customers are seeking immediate answers to questions. They don’t want to wait on hold or wait for an email reply.
The challenge is building knowledge bases that will be successful in meeting the needs of your customers and employees while seamlessly integrating with brand identity and its culture. Designing and implementing a knowledge base that will yield results for both the consumer and brand requires nothing short of a design akin to sophisticated, detailed architecture. But with the right software provider, company costs can be transformed into a fortified profit center.
Knowledge Base Building Blocks to Consider
Because technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, information can quickly become outdated. Therefore, it’s important for a knowledge base to remain current and fluid so it can be easily updated without disruption to day-to-day function.
Determining what will best serve your brand, employees, and customers can seem daunting. There are layers of questions to ask and examine in order to clarify the best solutions while ensuring your branding is on point and communicating throughout every interaction. When contemplating your needs, keep in mind that according to Bain and Company, a customer is four times as likely to take their business to a competitor due to a service complaint rather than product quality. So it’s important to consider how to best highlight the strengths of your brand while understanding and addressing the needs of your customer.
A great place to begin with a brand knowledge base is simple: customer feedback. Talk with support teams to determine which positive and negative feedback they are fielding on a regular basis. Find out which compliments and complaints recur throughout day-to-day business. Based on those customer trends, content can be generated that aligns with the specifics of that feedback. At the end of every day, it is your staff who hears directly from the customer and they know what is working well and exactly where there is room for improvement.
It’s also important to ensure that the knowledge base is organized and easy to navigate. How and why customers are going to use the knowledge base will be critical to determining how company content is structured. The last thing a consumer and or a brand wants is the customer experiencing frustration simply trying to find a quick answer and solution to their query or issue. While having a lot of information and resources for customers is ideal, if it isn’t organized, designed and implemented in the design in a clear way, all of the content will be for naught.
Another essential element to consider when building a knowledge base is discoverability. A skilled knowledge base design can improve your brand’s SEO. When a knowledge base is optimized for search engine traffic, it is that much easier to maintain engagement with existing customers. In addition to existing consumers, an optimized knowledge base ensures your brand comes up in a search, thereby providing the opportunity to attract potential future customers.
Knowledge Base Takeaways:
- Increased Employee Productivity
- Empowered Staff
- Improved Customer Experience
- Empowered Customers
- Better Customer Retention
- Enhanced SEO Engagement
- Increased Revenue
From initial user contact to the point of resolution or disengagement, a mindful and strategic use of a knowledge base will increase both customer satisfaction and staff efficiency, thereby enhancing profit margins.
For additional resources on achieving a frictionless customer experience, access our guide, How to Achieve a 360-Degree Customer View.