Knowledge is power—right? Think about the knowledge you hold, in all areas of your life. You might be a whizz at DIY tasks at home, or have an affinity for taking just-right photos with your smartphone. At work, you might be able to fix the copier—every single time—or you might know particular customers back stories, all the way to their very first order with the company. Whatever facts, figures and expertise you have, that’s your knowledge base. But unless you’re superhuman, you can’t be good at everything and you have to get help every once in a while. That’s a scenario that’s likely happened to you, as well as to most of the rest of the tech-adopted world. For those unanswerable questions, you turn to other people or other companies and review their knowledge bases.
A knowledge base is just like it sounds: an accumulation of intelligence and answers to questions. Some of the pieces of a knowledge base are common—think, when a computer locks up. It may consist of a variety of article types—frequently asked questions, forums, articles, whitepapers, how-to’s, and a dictionary to name just a few. The reason that those common pieces of a knowledge base are so important is that they can quickly diffuse any frustration that a customer might have, and frustration that’s quickly resolved equals less change of negative opinions of your company and improved chance of a repeat customer.
But there’s a danger in creating a knowledge base, too: One that’s lacking in organization or information can quickly lead to the same types of frustration it was designed to resolve. Fortunately, there’s an easy-to-follow process to create a knowledge base that works as it is supposed to. For starters, you must do your research, and that involves focusing on the questions that your customers want answered. If you don’t know that, you can’t begin to assemble the information to help them. But as you build your knowledge base, you have to find a starting point, or in many cases, a starting product; this may also be called your minimum viable product. You also have to determine how all those pieces that form your knowledge base are related, organized, linked, and structured. Those pieces are then arranged into available technology. That tech may be something homegrown or it may be something that’s obtained through a third party. If it’s the latter, you have to look closely at features, maintenance, grown potential, and service options. Even with all the knowledge at customers’ fingertips, though, you must take the measure of how your work is performing. Are people returning? Are they finding what they need? Can they rate your knowledge base—and if so, what do they say? Finally, you must never be satisfied with your knowledge base. As your products and services update and upgrade, so too will your knowledge base need attention and refinement. You may find some things lacking and some things unnecessary, too. This graphic can help you get a jumpstart on assembling your best knowledge base ever.