Building a Knowledge Base: How to Get Started
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We know how overwhelming writing knowledge base articles can be. There is so much information you want to get out to your customers, that thinking about what to write first can be paralyzing. However, these articles are crucial pieces of information for your clients to better use your products - and ultimately, to stay loyal to your brands. As such, they should be prioritized when it comes to your customer support.
There’s no time to delay! Let us ease your nerves and give you actionable steps to publishing your first support articles now.
Here are the steps you should follow when building a knowledge base:
First and foremost, you’ll want to think about customers who are using your product for the first time. Can you anticipate the questions they will have when first coming in contact with your product or service? How can you write support articles that make this interaction easier, not just for your customers but also for your support team? These are great questions to ask if you want to get into the right mindset before brainstorming ideas. The best piece of advice we can give you is to just begin. Avoid spending time thinking and worrying about the workload ahead. Instead, sit down with a pen and paper and note all of the basic aspects of your product or service - at this stage, we’re just listing. To make this a bit easier for you, imagine for a second that your customer can’t see your product and can only learn about it through the copy you have written. Write down anything that comes to mind as necessary. You will decide whether or not it is suitable for your knowledge base center later.
Your current customers will be your greatest asset when preparing your knowledge base articles. The object of creating these articles is to assist your customers with your product and to improve customer satisfaction. So who better to ask than those who interact with your product on an everyday basis? Gathering this feedback from your customers will guide you in the right direction and will give you the most important topics to address. Let's say, for example, that you had no idea that the UI (user interface) of your product was difficult to understand and not nearly as intuitive as you imagined. You can see how asking for feedback can give you the insight you need in order to determine what support articles to prioritize first.
Categorize topics into sections
Once you have a list going, you can then categorize these items into different sections. As you go, remove any topics you feel are not crucial. Some common categories you may have seen in support centers are as follows: 1. Getting started 2. How-to’s 3. Frequently asked questions 4. Troubleshooting These are great categories to start with and we will describe each one below: Getting started We suggest opening with a category called “Getting Started.” In this category, include the on-boarding and basic features of your product or service. Basically, anything that will help your customer begin using your product will make a great addition to this section. The main goal of this section is to familiarize your customers with your product or service. There is no magic number when it comes to deciding how many articles to start with. What’s most important here is that you initially add any information that is necessary in order to maximize a customer’s experience with your product. How-to’s Continue with “how-to” support articles. These pieces are here to explain to your customer the different components of your product or service and how to properly utilize each of them. Which “how-to” articles you start with truly depends on your customers and their needs. For the most part, stick with writing “how-to” articles that directly affect your customer's ability to use your product most effectively. The outlined steps for each article should be quick and easy to follow, providing key procedures in short and actionable steps. Frequently asked questions Your next step (and one which will save you a lot of future headaches) is to go over your support channels and jot down any frequently asked questions. As a rule of thumb, if you're having to answer the same question over and over again, it's probably a good idea to write a knowledge base article on this topic. Search through your support tickets, emails, social media and any other platform where your customers can reach out to you. It is likely that you will start to see a trend in the questions being asked via these channels and you can avoid future request by answering these questions in your knowledge base center now. Troubleshooting Finally, finish your initial support articles with a section dedicated to troubleshooting common issues. For example, on the web, it is common to incur issues with your browser if you have accumulated too many cache and cookies. As a first troubleshooting step, support agents will likely ask you to clear your cache and cookies and try again. However, as not everyone knows how to do this, you will need to create a support article with these instructions. Similarly, create troubleshooting articles for problems your customers are likely to incur while using your product or service.
Reread and revise
Take it one step at a time. And make sure to read your articles over, following each step you have outlined as if you were the customer. For each article you create, answer the following two questions: Is it necessary? Is it helpful? This will ensure that you make changes whenever you feel you have been too wordy or unnecessarily complex. Remember these articles should be easy to read and easy to follow. If you feel your article is too long and you have become disinterested halfway through, you will need to break this information up into two articles. Once you have made the necessary touch-ups to your first knowledge base articles, read them over again and get a second opinion. Have them do the same. Then after reviewing their input, revise once more and again reread the article. Make sure it’s spot-on before publishing. Though this may be a bit time consuming at first, you will be happy when your article is doing what it was intended to do: Helping your customers help themselves.
Sometimes all it takes to get writing is knowing that you have the right software to support you.
Wix Answers help desk software gives you all the tools you need to start writing great support articles today. Try it now!