But, how is online knowledge management capable of achieving this?
Businesses have an ocean of knowledge that is untapped, mainly because it’s disorganized, and stuck either in paper-based files or word docs, but completely unknown to your employees. Since this knowledge has lost its identity, the question of it being used optimally doesn’t arise in the first place.
This is where online knowledge management comes to the fore. The reasons why it is indispensable, are many, but here are the major ones:
- Facilitates easy access to knowledge
- Improves employee productivity at the workplace
- Improves decision making
- Helps support staff to provide prompt responses to customer questions
- Provides customers with instant access to knowledge
- Reduces support tickets - both internal and external, significantly
To implement knowledge management, all you need to do is create an online knowledge base - a cloud-based platform where information can be stored, organized, and accessed with ease.
But is that all?
Not really. There are some tried and tested best practices too, employing which will guarantee you success.
Knowledge Base Best Practices in 2021
Let’s look at some major categories and their best practices.
#1 Writing Great Content
The first thing that pops up in our minds while discussing a knowledge base is content authoring. It forms the core of a knowledge base. The way your content is written determines whether it will click with the readers or not.
A few things to keep in mind while writing content for knowledge base:
- Keep the paragraphs short and concise
- Keep the sentences short and less complicated
- Avoid jargon, and in case you are using them, make sure you use tooltips, lightboxes, and popups, to explain them clearly
- Use suitable fonts that look professional and make reading a breeze
- Try to stick to active voice while writing content
- Add bullets wherever necessary. They act as breathers and give readers a break from the monotony
- Keep the confusion at bay by avoiding flowery words
- Keep your headings short and stick to questions rather than plain statements
Embellish your knowledge base with simplicity
Look at how ProProfs keeps its knowledge base content simple and crisp:
#2 Content Architecture
It’s true that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, but there is no harm in making your online knowledge base attractive, while at the same time, including quality and helpful knowledge base articles in it. It will only add value to it, keeping the boredom away, giving your customers every reason to browse through it.
The presentation of your content is as important as its quality. While presentation attracts customers to your knowledge base and retains their attention, quality and meaningful content help them troubleshoot issues.
When we talk of presentation, there are two major things that we tend to focus on - structure and style.
So while structuring and styling your knowledge base, ensure to:
- Design your table of contents in Tree or Modern format
- Add headers and footers to your knowledge base
- Pick the right fonts, themes, colors, and designs for your knowledge base
- Add your company’s logo and brand name
- Keep the colors bold. Also, use one or two basic colors across your knowledge base and bright color to highlight important information. This approach soothes readers, in case they are frustrated for any reason, and also limelights valuable information.
Attractive presentation + Quality Content = Excellent Knowledge Base
This is how ProProfs structures content for its help center. There is the ProProfs logo at the top left corner, and a table of contents in the left, as you can see in the screenshot below.
#3 Customer Engagement via Multimedia
First things first - your customer base comprises individuals with varying preferences. While some prefer images over text, there are others who like reading through the article, or simply watching a video to understand the content.
You, as a business, have to make sure that your online knowledge base caters to all kinds of customers - right from those who love reading to those who prefer watching videos to find information. The only solution here is to engage with your audience at all levels, giving them everything they want on a single platform.
Having the right blend of text, images, and videos, works wonders here, and here’s how you can do it right:
- Add relevant images in the middle of the content. They act as breathers and also provide readers with a better understanding of content
- In case your knowledge base has steps to do a particular task, or troubleshoot a specific problem, you can use screenshots to demonstrate how to carry out those steps
- Add videos to explain concepts better. Don’t go overboard while using videos in your knowledge base. Use wherever you find the most relevant
- Add “Related Pages” at the end of every page, just so, readers can quickly switch to a different page to get more information
Your knowledge base should be a rich mixture of text, images, and videos.
#4 Customize to Connect Better
If you are a large business, it’s obvious that your customers are dispersed across different geographic locations, and speak different languages. So, how do you make sure that your knowledge base is capable of meeting the requirements of a diverse audience?
Simply, by creating your knowledge base in multiple languages. Once you are done, you can link all the sites together to help customers change the text in the language of their choice.
Customization doesn’t end here. You can even set up your custom domain and give the knowledge base identity of its own. Besides, it’s also possible to customize the entire knowledge platform from scratch with the help of CSS.
For today’s customers, it’s either their way or highway, which reiterates the fact that customization is crucial to give them what they want and how they want it.
Make way to your customers’ hearts through customization.
Here’s a short video on “How to Design a Professional Knowledge Base” for your reference.
#5 Navigation Cannot Be Ignored
Navigation should be effortless, convenient, and fuss-free for your customers. This can happen when you are familiar with techniques to keep your navigation game on point. Some of the popular techniques are -
- Have a Google-like search mechanism wherein customers get autosuggestions as soon as they type a question in the search bar
- Interlink relevant knowledge base articles so that customers can quickly switch different pages and capture as much knowledge as possible to solve their questions faster
- Add an in-app help widget to your knowledge base, so readers can quickly gain access to popular articles, without browsing through the entire knowledge base
- Ensure that your home page has quick links to popular article pages, which again reduces the efforts involved in finding the right information
A major part of how your customers experience your knowledge base depends on how easily they can maneuver through it.
Can you see a search bar at the top right corner? Also, the points in blue under Feedback & Ratings? All these points are internally linked, so when you click on them, you are directed to the relevant section. This is how ProProfs gets it right.
#6 Team Effort Counts
Knowledge base management cannot be done in silos. It’s only when your entire crew comes together and works in unison that a knowledge base can be created and managed effectively. Each of your employees plays a significant role in getting your online knowledge base up and running.
To ensure that your employees work collaboratively, in a seamless manner, it’s essential for you to -
- Assign roles such as - administrator, contributor, editor, and viewer to different individuals and groups. These roles provide permissions to members, allowing or restricting them to do specific tasks
- Administrators are responsible for adding new users, editing them, or making them inactive. Basically, they monitor the activities of editors, contributors, and viewers
- Contributors are those who write knowledge base articles. They are solely responsible for content authoring, structuring, styling, and basically, everything that goes into creating your online knowledge base
- Editors review the work of contributors and check it for any flaws so that only error-free content gets published
This entire process brings your employees closer, helping them work with combined synergy in engineering and managing your knowledge base.
Clarity of roles erases confusion and streamlines processes.
Looking for ways to promote team collaboration? Watch this video on “How to Improve Team Collaboration With Knowledge Base Software,” to know how you can do it right.
#7 Keep It Fresh & Updated
Creating a knowledge base is exciting, but once you are done with it, all that’s left for you to do is keep improving your knowledge base articles. Constant maintenance of content is important to make sure obsolete articles are wiped out or improved, and new, updated content is given space.
Based on the insights captured by your knowledge base software regarding popular and poorly rated articles, successful and failed searches, the number of searches performed, broken links, etc., you can make decisions about which articles to create, and which ones to improve.
Identify the keywords for which customers didn’t get relevant answers and add them to appropriate articles. In case you don’t find meaningful content related to those keywords, raise a requirement for new article creation. This was all about improving your online knowledge base on the basis of customers’ search behavior and preferences.
The next aspect of maintenance is keeping your knowledge base up to date, as you launch an advanced version of your product or come up with new features.
Will it be right if your product has a version 2.0, but all your knowledge base talks about is version 1.0? If this happens, it will leave a negative impact on readers, bringing your credibility to naught.
A knowledge base always has some scope of improvement, so keep improving it and keep your best foot forward.
Here’s another short video for you to understand what goes into improving and maintaining your knowledge base.
Adopting the above-mentioned knowledge base best practices is not a choice, but a prerequisite if you aim to engineer a knowledge base that is perfect from the standpoint of content quality, structure as well as its presentation.
The easiest way to ensure that all these best practices are followed effortlessly is by adopting a knowledge base tool that has what it takes to create a compelling, comprehensive, and carefully designed knowledge base.
So, out of all things, the one thing that you mustn’t overlook is the software you use to create your knowledge base. It should have powerful functionality and unmatched features. Also, the tool should play well with third-party tools and provide you an exceptional experience at a reasonable price.
One major thing to keep in mind is how searchable your knowledge base is and whether customers can skim through the content and find answers in a snap. The search experience needs to be uninterrupted and seamless.
When it comes to a knowledge base, don’t surprise your audience by setting high expectations that you can’t achieve. Instead, try to bring a unique element to your knowledge base - in terms of content, structure, presentation, and format. Once your customers get accustomed to the quality you deliver, the trust will build-up, and so will the credibility.
The purpose of a knowledge base is not just to educate customers and help them find answers to questions. Instead, it is far more than that. A knowledge base can be instrumental in brewing a beautiful bond between you and your customers, that thrives over time and stays for a lifetime.
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