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How to Set Up a Company Knowledge Base

How to Set Up a Company Knowledge Base

June 28, 2022
Dan Giovacchini
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You've heard the old proverb:

"If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime."

Imagine that the "fish" in this scenario is the answer to the questions your employees and customers have.

You can answer each question as it comes up, but doing so will destroy your productivity levels. If you learn how to set up a company knowledge base so that people can get answers to their questions on their own, you’ll be able to save time and focus on more critical tasks.

If you want to see what's behind door #2, keep reading. We're about to cover:

  • What is a knowledge base?
  • Why does your company need a knowledge base?
  • How to set up a company knowledge base in 5 steps

What is a Knowledge Base?

Your company's knowledge base answers the question, "How do I…"

In other words, it's a collection of frequently asked questions, how-to guides, step-by-step tutorials, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that exist online.

There are two kinds of knowledge bases to be aware of: 

  • Internal: An internal knowledge base is created to help company employees access information in the most efficient way possible. 
  • External: An external knowledge base enables customers to answer their most pressing questions without speaking to a Customer Support representative.

You don't have to choose between an internal and external knowledge base. You can create both or combine them into one mega resource.

Why Does Your Company Need a Knowledge Base?

To be fair, your company doesn't need a knowledge base. The local authorities won't come to your place of business and shut the operation down if your company doesn't have one.

That said, a knowledge base can be super beneficial to your company. Here's why:

Greater Productivity

There is no question—your team will be more productive once you've created an internal and/or external knowledge base.

The average employee spends 1.8 hours a day looking for information. Imagine how much more they'll accomplish when they can access your company's knowledge base and answer their own questions in a matter of seconds. We're going to say a whole lot more.

This is especially true for new hires, who, as a general rule, have more questions than veteran employees. An internal knowledge base helps new hires get up to speed quickly, improving the onboarding experience and increasing their value to your organization.

Since great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%, this is a big deal.

What about customer support reps? A knowledge base will turn them into productivity ninjas, too. When your customers have access to an external knowledge base, they'll be able to answer questions on their own, freeing up Support reps to focus on complex issues.

Better Customer Service

Did you know that 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs? Your customers desperately want this kind of resource!

What makes knowledge bases the preferred support option for most consumers in 2022? The fact that they are able to get answers their questions quickly.

We're sure your Support Team is excellent, but calling a 1-800 number, waiting for a rep to answer, explaining your problem, and then waiting for the said rep to give you an answer is time-consuming. Customers would rather find answers to their questions quickly and avoid the headache.

Plus, knowledge bases can serve customers 24/7. Can your Support Team do the same?

At the end of the day, an external knowledge base will help your company create better customer experiences, which will lead to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Now, it's important to remember that a knowledge base isn't a replacement for human interaction. Your Customer Support team will still serve a vital role. An external knowledge base will simply help them perform their role more effectively.

How to Set Up a Company Knowledge Base in 5 Steps

Ready to learn how to create a company knowledge base for your organization? Don't worry, it's not that complicated. Just follow this five-step process.

1. Identify Your Purpose

First things first, why do you want to create a company knowledge base? What purpose will it serve? To pinpoint the answer, ask yourself these three questions:

Who Is My Audience?

Who are you creating a knowledge base for? There are three options: your employees, your customers, or your employees and your customers. Your target audience will determine the kind of informational content you create, so it's crucial to nail it down.

Why Does My Audience Need This Information?

If you're creating an internal knowledge base, the answer to this query might be, "To improve employee productivity." Or, "To boost team morale." Once again, knowing why your knowledge base is necessary will help you create the right kind of informational content.

What Kind of Content Do I Need to Create?

Has your company previously created tutorials, SOPs, and other forms of educational content? And are these documents up to date? If not, you'll probably need to start from scratch. If your current content is usable, look for gaps, so you know what to create next.

This is easy to do if you ask yourself one simple question: "What questions does our target audience often ask?" Your answer will tell you what content you need to work on.

2. Develop a Structure

Now that you know who you're creating content for and the kind of content you need to create, you can develop a structure for your knowledge base.

Truth: the way you organize your knowledge base matters. 

If you organize it correctly, your target audience will be able to find the information they need in a short amount of time. This will improve the user experience and ensure your knowledge base is a valuable resource for your entire organization and/or customers.

The question is, how do you organize it effectively? Here are a few tips:

  • Organize by User-type: What if multiple kinds of users want to access your knowledge base? An internal knowledge base, for example, could be organized by employee roles and have sections for Marketing, Sales, HR, etc. Each section would contain information that pertains to a specific department.
  • Organize by Activity: What if your audience wants to use the knowledge base to help complete specific actions? Then organize it by activity. A software company, for example, could organize its external knowledge base via particular actions, such as "Downloading Your Software", "Navigating the Interface", and "Contacting Customer Support".
  • Organize by Product or Service: What if your audience wants easy access to information on specific company offerings? Then organize your knowledge base by product/service. An electronics company, for example, could create a resource with specific sections for TVs, Computers, Stereo Systems, Videos Games, etc.

Core Elements

It doesn't matter what kind of knowledge base you're creating—internal or external. Or even the types of products and/or services your company sells. Your knowledge base should include three elements: An FAQ Section, A Search Bar, and a Contact Support Option.

An FAQ Section

For basic questions, customers generally turn to FAQ pages. Compile a list of common FAQs and add them to your knowledge base so your audience has easy access to them.

A Search Bar

What if your target audience has a very specific question they need answering ? A search bar will make it easy for them to find the information they need in a flash.

A Contact Support Option

It doesn't matter how fantastic your knowledge base is. It won't be able to answer every question, which is why we suggest adding a "Contact Customer Support" button.

3. Create Quality Content

The next step is to sit down and create quality content to add to your knowledge base.

To do this, we suggest working with subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure your step-by-step instructions, training manuals, and SOPs are comprehensive and accurate.

SMEs will also help you pinpoint what's relevant to your audience. For example, If you're creating onboarding content, ask your SMEs and new hires what will help them get up to speed faster. If you're making sales-related content, ask a sales rep what they need to close more deals. The same thing goes for the Marketing and Customer Success teams.

Every employee within your organization has questions. Your job is to learn which questions are asked most often so you can create insightful articles for your knowledge base.

Once you sit down to create content, make sure it's engaging and easy to understand. This isn't that hard if you follow these three tips:

  • Use Headlines: Action-based headlines and subheads will break up content into manageable chunks. They'll also tell your audience what your content is about at a glance. This brings clarity to your knowledge base articles.
  • Simplify your Language: The goal of your knowledge base articles is to educate readers. To do this, your audience needs to understand your words. Make sure you use simple language and short sentences/paragraphs to increase reader understanding.
  • Include Visuals: An endless stream of words will not engage your audience. To do that, you need to use visuals—screenshots, diagrams, and videos. Visuals will make your articles easier to understand, which is essential to a practical knowledge base.

Wondering how to add visuals to your knowledge base article? Use a tool like Tango.

With Tango, you can easily document processes. All you have to do is turn the app on and perform the specific task you want to document. Tango will automatically capture screenshots and auto-generate written instructions based on your actions.

When you've completed the process, you can edit the document for your knowledge base by adding new text descriptions, blurring out sensitive information, and annotating screenshots with a few clicks. Then share the finalized piece of content with your audience.

You can't go wrong with Tango when setting up a company knowledge base. And fortunately, it won't cost you an arm and a leg to use. Get started for free today!

4. Host and Upload Resources

Have a few pieces of content for your knowledge base created? Great! Now it's time to share them with your target audience. You could email each document to every employee and/or customer that might benefit from it, but that would be extremely tedious.

Instead, house all of your knowledge base articles in a shared platform. That way employees and customers can access them whenever they need the information.

There are plenty of shared platforms you can use. Dropbox, for example, may work for small teams who only need access to a few documents. But if you're creating a knowledge base for many employees and/or customers, you should invest in a more open tool.

Some of the more popular solutions in this category include Zendesk, Document360, HelpJuice, Guru, and GrooveHQ. Research these apps to find one that works for you.

Once you've chosen a knowledge base software, organize your content based on the organizational structure you chose in step #2 to make the content easily accessible.

5. Optimize Your Knowledge Base

At this point, you should have a fully-functional knowledge base. Your employees and/or customers should be using it. And you should be collecting feedback on their experiences.

Does your target audience find the knowledge base helpful? Has it made your employees more productive? Are your customers happier than before? And is your Customer Support team able to focus on more significant and complicated problems now?

Hopefully, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding "YES!" If not, use audience feedback to revamp your knowledge base so that it's a more valuable resource.

Remember, there's always room for improvement. Just because your audience loves your knowledge base now doesn't mean you can't make it better.

Here are two ways to optimize your knowledge base for the best results:

Update Your Knowledge Base on a Regular Basis

Workflows change. New products are released. Old products get updated. When these things happen, the resources in your knowledge base need to be adjusted or updated accordingly. That way, your audience can always access the accurate, valuable information they need.

Optimize Your Knowledge Base for SEO

Your external knowledge base should, above all else, educate customers. This will ensure their loyalty and help your Customer Support team become more productive.

But if you're creating help documents anyway, you might as well optimize them for SEO.

If you're unfamiliar with the term, SEO, short for search engine optimization, is the act of improving web content so that it ranks higher in search engine results. Why does this matter? Because higher ranking content drives more traffic.

In other words, with a little bit of extra love, your external knowledge base can become a fantastic marketing asset for your business! To make it happen:

  • Choose Relevant Keywords: A keyword is a word or phrase people type into search engines like Google. The documents in your knowledge base should each target a specific keyword, which you'll use multiple times throughout the resource.
  • Update Your URLs: The keyword you choose for each article in your knowledge base should be included in its URL. Add it to your meta descriptions, too, while you're at it.

Final Thoughts

Once you learn how to set up a company knowledge base, your employees will become more productive and your customers will become more loyal. Win!

Fortunately, setting up a knowledge base is fairly simple. Just follow the five-step process outlined above:identify your purpose, develop a structure, create quality content, upload resources, and optimize each resource for maximum impact.

If you do those five things, you'll be able to build  an amazing knowledge base.

And creating your knowledge base content can be super easy and fun with Tango! Before you take a test-drive, check out what people say about us:

"I've been looking for something like this for months. It's easy to use, pretty intuitive, and the end result looks like I spent hours putting it together."

June 28, 2022
Dan Giovacchini

What Is a Knowledge Base?

Why Build a Knowledge Base?

5 Steps to Set One Up

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