What is a Knowledge Base? How Knowledge Management Systems Encourage Self Service

Knowledge bases and knowledge management systems are self-service options that are a must for businesses to implement now that we’ve all grown accustomed to any and all information at our fingertips. In fact, most younger customers say they prefer to use a self-service knowledge base instead of talking to someone on the phone. 

Not only do knowledge bases and knowledge management systems benefit the customer experience by making things super easy by providing more control to consumers, but it benefits businesses by eliminating frivolous interactions that clog up contact center queues and tie up agent resources. Instead, both can be focused on solving more complex problems.

So, what is a knowledge base? 

What is a knowledge base you’re wondering?

A knowledge base is a page on a company website that houses answers to all of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that customers may have. The questions could be geared towards a company’s products, services, and other processes that directly affect clients. 

The knowledge base generally allows users to type in a question or keyword in a search box. The answers then appear and the customer is on their way. It is really that simple. Depending on the type of product or service a company provides, a knowledge base could contain articles, how-to’s, community forums, short answers, and more. It could be compared to an online library that is dedicated solely to your business. 

What is a knowledge management system?

A knowledge management system is a website that has a separate URL outside of the “main” website. The knowledge management system is still related to the brand, but it has its own home. One example of a knowledge management system, hosted by Adobe, is MyCreativeType.com. It is Adobe branded and related but kept off of their main website which has its own very different and specific purpose. 

Companies use knowledge management systems for numerous reasons. One common reason is to promote a temporary campaign. Other times knowledge management systems are developed to build brand awareness or to tell audiences about a different side of a company that isn’t directly related to the main product or service. 

Using a knowledge management system as a self-pay portal is also common. Customers can create a login username and password and pay their bill or check their balance. Since many debt collection agencies service a variety of clients, using knowledge management systems to house different kinds of payment portals keeps them away from their main website. The main company website usually serves different purposes, mainly to provide information for clients who want to hire an agency. 

Although it is possible to keep pages like that directly on the main website, companies can avoid a cluttered and confusing layout by using knowledge management systems instead. 

How can a knowledge base or knowledge management system encourage self-service?

A knowledge base encourages a customer to quickly find answers to their questions without having to communicate with an agent. This saves them time, especially when hold times can skyrocket during high volume periods. Most people do not want to spend hours on the phone, so having the information right at their fingertips helps tremendously. Incorporating IVR into your workflows is another self-service option. If a customer does happen to call in for a simple question such as, “What is your mailing address,” integrating common FAQs into the IVR system helps them find the answer themselves before having to speak to an agent.

Chatbots via web or SMS can also provide answers to FAQs for customers. A chat pop-up on your main site could serve as a mini-knowledge base where customers can type in a question and “talk” to a virtual agent. SMS is another great way to promote self-service. The concept is the same as webchat, except it is right through their phone. There is no need to log on to their computers.

Knowledge bases also often incorporate a community feature within them. Customers can share tips and advice with each other in case they cannot find an answer to a specific question. Many times it is much faster to get a reply from an online community member than it is to reach a representative by phone or email. In addition, questions can be so narrow that only other customers could help by sharing their own experiences. 

Content within a knowledge base could also offer rating features. An example could be a simple thumbs up or thumbs down beneath an answer to a question. Customers would rate an answer in accordance with the quality of help it provides. This self-service feature allows customers to have a say in the QA process and provides a greater sense of control over the flow of information.

Knowledge bases provide extra resources that reduce agent involvement

Knowledge management systems also encourage self-service by offering extra resources that customers can access on their own. For example, if your business is planning on participating in a community event, a knowledge management system can help customers who would like to volunteer to find more information or ways to help. If your business is launching a new campaign initiative that involves in-person meetings, customers can search for office locations on a map using their zip code. 

Knowledge management systems are also useful when they act as registration links for new campaigns. Instead of bombarding a company website with excess information that can easily overwhelm visitors, creating a knowledge management system to house registration forms for clients for a specific initiative allows them to easily sign themselves up with no distraction. 

A new marketing campaign could also include unique downloads or an FAQ base of its own. A knowledge management system could encourage self-service by allowing clients to find the answers to their questions about a new campaign. The more nuanced and temporary a campaign is, the more likely it is that a knowledge management system would be a better option.

What are the benefits of self-service options like knowledge bases?

When a customer finds the answers to their questions by using your knowledge base or navigating your knowledge management systems, they feel empowered. Companies should give customers the tools they need to become self-sufficient. They feel more engaged with your brand because they have a better understanding of your product or service and related processes. As a result, customers feel more “a part of” these processes. 

Self-service options create trust between a company and its customers. When you offer these tools to your clients, your business is communicating to your customers that they are important to it. Simplifying how they do business with you shows you are happy to accommodate their busy lives. 

Help customers make self service a habit

It is also important to keep in mind the customer’s experience as they navigate your knowledge management systems or your knowledge base. If your goal is to encourage clients to use these self-service tools, make them simple to access and use. You do not want customers to get lost on your page or worse, get frustrated because they cannot find something. It can be easy to overcomplicate a knowledge base or overcrowd a knowledge management system with excess information. 

Keep the knowledge base looking simple. Have the search bar visible. Any preset FAQs should also be visible at the front of the page so that a customer can see whether their question is already there before searching. Clear buttons pointing towards other sections like the community forum or popular articles most people find useful. Providing filters to help users narrow down what they are looking for also makes navigation easy. 

Providing a simple-to-use knowledge management system is a little different, depending on what its purpose is. Ensure the purpose of the site is clear by providing a title and details on the front page. One of the most important parts to have visible is the call to action. Do you need your customers to sign up for something? Perhaps you are asking for referrals for a new incentives program. Whatever your CTA may be, make sure it is clearly understood on the front page. Any important hyperlinks or buttons should be easy to find as well. A crystal clear, user-friendly self-service option for customers keeps them coming back. Otherwise, they may try to reach an agent even for the simplest of questions.

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