What is a Knowledge Base?

Knowledge is invaluable to every aspect of business and can derive from virtually anywhere. It’s particularly important to Customer Service and Customer Experience teams, who rely heavily on the collective knowledge within their organisations to effectively communicate with customers.

However, knowledge is only power when it is stored, organised and shared in an efficient way. If you are not fully utilising knowledge within your business – or in other words using a knowledge base - then you could be letting your customers down.

Customer Service expectations are rapidly changing. A recent study revealed that 67% of respondents have increased their expectations in the past year regarding customer support So if your Customer Service or Customer Experience teams are not already centred around a knowledge base, then now is the time to be.

Knowledge Base Definition

A knowledge base is a library of information that has been captured, collected and currated in a way that is easy to look up, edit and share with teams and customers.

Made up of articles which contain answers to common questions, usually surrounding a product, service or topic, a knowledge base is your team’s repository of information and powers many online self-service products.

The knowledge stored inside this repository can be obtained from a number of sources including support ticket transcripts, phone interactions and agent insights. Answers to routine questions can be found quickly and shown in a variety of ways that suit the query, including:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Video
  • Other documents

A knowledge base encourages collaboration; articles can be added across teams by Knowledge Managers and evolve as often as customers’ needs do. This keeps answers not only accurate but also current and consistent.

Commonly, businesses utilise their knowledge base:

  • Internally as a centralised data repository
  • Externally through customer-facing self-service applications
Knowledge Base Types

The centralised data repository used internally is otherwise known as an internal knowledge base. It’s the software used by teams that connects to their knowledge base in a user-friendly way. Whilst interacting with customers, whether it be via live chat, email or phone, agents can answer questions efficiently by simply typing the question into a search bar. High-end systems utilise machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to speed up the accuracy and the relevancy of the user’s search.

Time otherwise spent asking a supervisor or sourcing the answer elsewhere is saved through the power of the internal knowledge base, resulting in satisfied customers and employees – but more on that later.

Agent Knowledge Base

Customers can access a version of that same knowledge base through self-service software. Knowledge Managers can set up a “view” that allows different information to be displayed based on who it is accessed by - a customer or an agent. This allows the customer to find out an answer or resolve an issue themselves, deflecting contact with an agent.

Customers prefer to use a company’s website to answer a question, which is why this software is so important. In fact, 90% of customers will visit your website first before contacting you directly (Synthetix research).

The customer simply types in their question and through sophisticated natural language processing (NLP), is presented with relevant results quickly. Intelligent self-service applications use NLP and machine learning to help customers find answers based on naturally worded questions and navigate them accordingly. Simultaneously, AI-powered Learning is retaining each customer interaction and updating your knowledge base with information that will deliver the most relevant materials to future users.

Essentially, the purpose of self-service software is to automate and optimise routine questions and answers and by doing so, enhance the customer experience.

Customer Self-service Customer Self-service

Why Use a Knowledge Base?

A knowledge base underpins any good knowledge management strategy and can be considered an essential in the customer-centric world.

A knowledge base is an integral part of Customer Service and Customer Experience and harnesses great tools such as an internal knowledge base and self-service.

Ultimately, a knowledge base can improve customer experience, create capacity for agents to deal with more complex issues and significantly reduce operational costs.

Let’s talk about the benefits next, both from an internal knowledge base and self-service perspective.

Benefits of Using an Internal Knowledge Base for Teams

  1. Improved first contact resolution

    Customers expect their question to be answered during first contact. They don’t want to be called back, transferred or have to use an alternative channel to ask the same question. An internal knowledge base can improve first contact resolution (FCR), by using intent-based search and natural language processing (NLP) the customer’s issue can be resolved quickly and in the same session.

    How could an improvement in FCR affect your company’s bottom line?

    If a call centre of 50 agents has an average FCR of 74% and is increased by even 1%, it could lead to an annual saving of £46,100 (based on an average cost per call of £3.64 ).

    But there are potentially bigger savings to be made. By implementing a centralised knowledge base with a good knowledge management solution, companies can experience significant increases to their average FCR, positively impacting the bottom line.

  2. Reduced average handling time (AHT)

    Equipped with a knowledge base rich in answers, solutions and resources, agents no longer have to frantically research or put customers on hold whilst they consult their supervisor for resolutions. An internal knowledge base helps teams resolve customer queries more efficiently and as a result can cut AHT by up to 40% (Synthetix research).

  3. Reduced training and onboarding times

    Companies can reduce their training and onboarding times by up to 30% (Synthetix research) by storing important training information in their internal knowledge base. In an environment where time is precious, new starters can begin their work far quicker than without a knowledge base.

  4. Consistency of information

    76% of customers receive conflicting answers when it comes to customer support. Not only can this affect brand credibility but giving the wrong advice to a customer can be detrimental in other ways. Such mistakes and inconsistent answers can be avoided with an internal knowledge base, where the same information can be accessed by multiple teams across multiple channels.

Benefits of Using an Internal Knowledge Base for Customers

  1. Customer Satisfaction

    Real-time access to knowledge in today’s fast-paced business world is crucial and could be the difference between a good net promoter score (NPS) and a damaging customer complaint.

    There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than struggling to find an answer to a simple question or FAQ. In fact, 53% of customers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

    Which is why self-service software, integrated with a version of your knowledge base is so valuable. Easy to find and easy to interact with technology allows for positive customer experience, which in turn can boost your CSAT and NPS scores.

  2. Deflection of contact

    Customers would prefer to resolve an issue or answer a question themselves if possible and avoid contact completely. However, one of the biggest strains on Contact Centre teams is the volume of routine questions (otherwise known as FAQs) that they receive.

    The implementation of self-service software can deflect contact by up to 50% (Synthetix research), making for happier customers and employees. Not only is the customer satisfied, but employees don’t have to deal with mundane questions and are given the capacity to deal with more complex issues.

  3. Availability

    Self-service can automate answers 24/7, reducing any backlogs and helping customers whatever the time or day.

How to Create a Knowledge Base

If your Knowledge Management team isn’t already on it, then here are some useful starting points:

  • Look at your data

    Save time on writing articles by finding what internal knowledge already exists. If it’s relevant and useful to your team internally or to the customer, include it.

  • Be clear

    Include a clear title that encapsulates the question and a descriptive answer. Be as detailed as necessary – this is what your team or customer will be consulting to resolve their query. Use text, images or video to help answer the question.

  • Be collaborative

    Work collectively with other teams, you will gain insights that you’d otherwise be oblivious to. Different teams will have different interests in the knowledge base, so make sure everyone is included.

  • Organise

    Knowledge can be endless, so organisation is key when it comes to navigating a knowledge base. Use categories and even sub-categories to segment your articles and views to filter audiences. Don’t get lost in your own knowledge base.

  • Connect

    Work with a supplier like Synthetix to bring your knowledge base to life and integrate with an Internal Knowledge Base, Self-service FAQs, Live Chat and even an AI-powered Chatbot.

    Knowledge Base Intregration

Work with a supplier like Synthetix to bring your knowledge base to life and integrate with an Internal Knowledge Base, Self-service FAQs, Live Chat and even an AI-powered Chatbot. If you would like any further advice on implementing a knowledge base into your company, you can you can read more here, or
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