In 2024, customer support is just as much about what goes on behind the scenes as it is about customer-facing interactions. In fact, customer interactions with human agents are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to offering the best possible CX. Nowadays, 88% of customers also expect brands to offer online self-service options for customer support (Statista).
Key to providing effective self-service options to customers is having a knowledge base that’s in fighting form. This will enable customers to get help when and wherever they need it. It’s also a necessary first step for anyone looking to integrate generative AI into their support stack. In this post, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of knowledge base management and provide you with advice from our in-house experts on how to take yours to the next level.
What is a knowledge base?
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page about industry jargon, let’s start with the basics. A knowledge base is a self-serve online library of information about a company’s products and services. This can be your FAQ page, help center, product catalog – or some combination of the three.
A well organized knowledge base can enable customers to find the answers they need to many of their most common questions. In turn, it’ll help cut down on the number of repetitive tickets your agents receive so that they can focus on more complex queries that require a human touch. A knowledge base also serves as the data source that a generative AI chatbot will draw on in order to deliver conversational answers to the customers who consult it. So you'll want it to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
How an optimized knowledge base benefits customers
When done well, a knowledge base provides customers with all the necessary information they’re looking for – right at their fingertips. They can find out about your return policy, learn more about how to manage their accounts, or get more info about how to care for a treasured item they ordered from your website.
To ensure the efforts you put into creating a comprehensive knowledge base are well spent, organization is key. Make sure all your FAQs are structured in such a way that customers can easily find them. Do this by applying SEO best practices such as including common keywords in the title and text of each article. You’ll also want to continually update old content to make sure things are completely accurate and there’s no conflicting info.
When your knowledge base is clear, consistent, and up-to-date your customers won’t have to go through the trouble of contacting support and waiting hours or days for an answer. In fact, when companies provide customers with access to a knowledge base, a study by McKinsey found that it resulted in a 35% reduction in handle times.
Knowledge base management and generative AI
With recent developments in automation technology like generative AI, it’s now possible to supercharge the power of your knowledge base beyond merely offering customers an avenue for more manual self service. That’s because generative AI can instantly analyze the contents of your knowledge base in their entirety and deliver this information to your customers in the most natural, human-like way — no training required.
But not so fast. Generative AI presents another reason why it’s so important to follow knowledge base management best practices. If your help center isn’t structured in a way that this LLM-based bot can read and understand, it will inhibit its ability to pull information and produce responses that make sense. As you structure your knowledge base for generative AI, it’s also important to remember that your text-based bot cannot follow links or read images. Therefore, you’ll need to spell everything out directly in your help center.
And if you're ready to get more granular on the specifics of how to prep your knowledge base for a generative AI chatbot, we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide on knowledge base architecture best practices for automation.
Want to know more about gen AI for customer support?
Top tips for KB management
At the beginning of this article we mentioned that knowledge base management and optimization is the #1 new support skill our customers are asking about this year, according to our 2024 Customer Service Trends Guide. We’ve pulled the best, tried-and-tested advice from our customer success team so you can get a glimpse at how to improve your knowledge base today. Below are their top 3 tips to follow.
1. Specificity is supreme: 1 article per query
Whether you are preparing your knowledge base for a generative AI-powered chatbot or auditing your help center content to ensure your CX is at its best, you’ll want to avoid articles with conflicting info. Our customer success managers advise that you delete any duplicate articles and structure knowledge base content by common queries. For example, in an entry on your company’s shipping policy, you’ll want to keep all the info in one article rather than having multiple articles for different countries or regions. It will also make it easier for agents to update the articles if their contents are all in one place.
2. Keep it coherent: How to craft KB content
Readability is key – for customers and chatbots alike. Structure articles with clear headlines, step-by-step instructions, and titles that are written in question form. For example, our finserv customers over at Tomorrow saw a lot of success in improving their knowledge base by tweaking article titles from “Opening accounts,” to “How to open an account?” because this corresponded better with what customers were searching. It also more closely matched the queries chatbots were receiving, which improved the accuracy of their responses.
3. Make it snappy: On-brand copy for better CX
Finally, your knowledge base doesn’t have to be boring. It’s actually a good opportunity for branding by using copy that matches your tone of voice and speaks to your target audience. For example, let’s say you’re selling handmade shoes at a high price. Your knowledge base is an opportunity to speak with sincerity and transparency about your small-scale operation and the care that goes into making the products you sell. This interface with your brand can make one-time shoppers into lifelong customers.
And there you have it. A sound knowledge base can really make or break your CX. When done well, it makes your brand more engaging and accessible by offering customers an effective touchpoint for getting the help they need. It is also a foundation for the future of support automation with generative AI.