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5 Tips to Maximize your Customer Support Knowledge Base

If your brand is committed to happy customers, you’ve probably worked hard to have the most helpful, personable, knowledgeable support team you possibly can. But the reality is, sometimes people prefer to find the answers themselves. Therein lies the important role an effective knowledge base plays in a holistic customer support strategy.

A knowledge base is not a replacement for a support team, but rather a supplement to one. Why have one? Because it will result in happier customers. And happier customers spend more (and more often).

Why You Should Have a Knowledge Base

Less Effort = More Loyalty. Research published in the Harvard Business Review notes that even more important to customers than good service is their own valuable time. One of the main findings of their study is about how effort contributes to customer loyalty:

Delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does.

When something isn’t working properly or you can’t figure something out about a new product, what’s the first thing you usually do? More than likely, your first step starts with a G and ends in oogle. We in the customer service industry call that self-service. Attempting to find the answer yourself is a low-effort option that (hopefully) leads to a solution. According to research from Forrester:

53% of U.S. online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

It’s What Many Customers Want. Over the past decade, numerous studies have pointed to increasing consumer desires for easily accessible information via a knowledge base. In a recent study by our partners at Zendesk, 91% of customers they surveyed would use a knowledge base if it met their needs. In same study, 67% of respondents said they prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative.

Free up Agent Time for More Meaningful Interactions. When those who prefer self-service are able to get their answers from a knowledge base, those who prefer to interact with a support representative can still do so. An effective knowledge base should enable you to support more customers and reserve agents’ time for more complex inquiries.

Tips for Building an Effective Knowledge Base

A knowledge base is more than an FAQ page (though, an FAQ page is always good start). Of course, just like customers experience good and bad support interactions, there are also good and bad knowledge bases. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re meeting your customers’ needs:

1. Know your biggest contact drivers.

Take the time to look at the tickets and questions your support team receives, and check to make sure the ones driving the most inquiries are answered in your knowledge base. From there, you can work on adding lower contact drivers and other information your customers may seek. You can also design the landing page of your knowledge base to feature answers that are read the most or address a trending question.

2. Understand your customer.

This is important for any type of customer support, but there’s an additional factor to consider when developing a knowledge base. Not only should you understand your customer in terms of who they are demographically and what they want from your company, but also the way they communicate. This is important because it will influence the words they use when they search your knowledge base. Review the ways in which they communicate a question or issue when they contact your support team; use those to test your search function and make sure the right answers appear.

3. Anticipate customer needs.

Are you launching a new product? Releasing an update for your game or app? Changing your return policy or the layout of your website? Don’t wait until the questions start flowing in to update your knowledge base. Instead, brainstorm the questions and issues your customers are most likely to raise, and populate as much information into your knowledge base so that it can be published when your update goes live.

4. Optimize search.

If your customers are already searching the web, your website should be the first result they see. Not only will they trust the solution because it comes from you, but the clearer it is, the less effort they have to put into things like verifying the source or validity of the answer or reading through message board comments to see if the solution posted by a fellow customer actually works.

In the same vein, make sure the search function of your own knowledge base works well. Test it yourself using the keywords and phrases customers associate with certain questions or issues. Do the proper answers appear when you search for those terms?

5. Iterate, iterate, iterate.

This is where a proper analytics tool is essential. Even free platforms like Google Analytics will give you critical information about how your knowledge base is performing. For instance, you can see what terms your customers are searching and test them, as mentioned above, to ensure the right results appear. Another thing you’ll want to look at is how many people are performing subsequent searches or submitting a ticket after their initial search. Activity like this can indicate that an answer was not found or clear, or that the answer provided did not solve the customer’s issue. Use this information to improve existing answers or add new ones.

Building a knowledge base for your customers can seem like a big undertaking, but with the right planning and strategy, the long-term benefits are wholly worth it. Not sure where to start? Drop us a line; we can design, implement, and maintain your knowledge base while you rest easy knowing your customers have the information they need.

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