This is guest post by Reuben Yonatan, CEO of GetVoIP.

Most customers would rather solve problems themselves than go through the hassle of contacting customer service. According to Forrester Research, 91% of customers surveyed would use a knowledge base if it were customized to their needs.

When self-service content is easy to discover and navigate, businesses not only see higher customer satisfaction rates, but they reduce support costs because customers can help themselves. That saves your staff from the boring repetition of solving the same low-level problems over and over again, and saves you the money it would take to pay for them to do it.

But in order to achieve that goal, you need to create a customer-centric knowledge base so that the customers can find the answers they need. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

8 Tips on Knowledge Base Creation

1. Create a Buyer Persona

A buyer persona (or customer persona) is a fictional representation of a key segment of your audience. It’s typically derived from customer data and market research. By taking the time to create a buyer persona, you can better target new customers and better relate to the ones you already have. When you are writing your knowledge base content, consider how this persona would use your product and how she might describe a problem.

For example, if you are deciding whether to go heavy on using jargon and acronyms, ask yourself if the customer would benefit from specificity and concision, or would be overwhelmed and pick up the phone—or worse, look for your competitor. Would she say “the HHG42 intermittently encounters unexpected friction,” or “The thing goes WRRRRRR when I turn it on”?

2. Value Your Customers’ Time and Attention

Your knowledge base needs to be intuitive. It’s going to be your customer’s first stop when they have an urgent question about your product or need help troubleshooting. But if they don’t find an answer quickly, they’ll just end up contacting support.

You must structure your content with the customer in mind. The most common issues need to be up front, the advanced stuff has to be easy to search for, and all your content should be organized in logical categories that make sense to the end user.

3. Start With the Basic Questions

Imagine you’re a new customer who has no experience with your product or services. What questions would you have? What would you need to know in order to get started? In some cases, what you consider easy may actually be quite advanced for a new customer. Make sure to cover the basics before moving onto more complicated questions.

4. Conduct a Content Audit

Once your knowledge base is navigable and user-friendly, you need to build on that with your customer persona in mind. Identify what the customer is most likely to search for. Talk to both your sales team and support team and find the most common pain points and build a knowledge base that can address those issues. Audit the existing content to make sure whatever the customer can find the answers he is looking for.

5. Give it a Personal Touch

You need to show your customers that the knowledge base is written by and for real people. A good way to do that is by giving some information or a short bio of your support staff. You can use a picture, or a favorite saying, or anything else that can foster an emotional connection.

In the same way, you need to give them a way to interact with you. Be sure to provide quick links to create a support ticket if they can’t find answers, and add a survey to your articles so customers can share feedback.

6. Provide Thorough, Step-by-Step Directions

Every knowledge base article should describe, in detail, what the problem is, how to resolve it, and what to expect next. If there are common pitfalls to avoid or problems that tend to crop up afterwards, make sure to state those clearly.. In addition to text, you can supplement with graphics, screenshots, and videos that help customers visualize what you’re describing.

It may seem like you’re holding the customer’s hand, but remember, knowledge base articles are intended to replace human interaction, so you want to include as much relevant information as possible, plus predict any follow-up questions customers may have after reading.

7. Check Spelling and Grammar

Mistakes and typos hurt your credibility with your customers. If you don’t know the difference between “their” and “they’re,” can they expect you to know the difference between a J-41M and a 41M-L? Joking aside, when they read the article, they are trusting you as an authority on the topic; get the small stuff right, so they know they can trust you with the big stuff.

The Final Word

To sum up, when you are making your knowledge base, write it with a customer persona in mind, but also have enough information so that even a beginner can use it. Write it in clear language that’s easy to follow and avoid industry jargon your customers won’t know. Be sure your content is easy to find and your page does not confuse the customer. If you follow all these rules, you’re bound to provide a great self-service experience.

About the Author

Reuben Yonatan - Building a Customer-Centric Knowledge Base

Reuben Yonatan is the CEO @ GetVoIP, a leading VoIP systems comparison guide that connects shoppers with relevant providers.

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