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Rebooting our Knowledge Bases

Whoever wrote all the old odes, missed a very important one.

Contact centre managers who’ve completed their knowledge bases, aren’t contact managers at all” – New ode, Adexchange 2021

It’s not the catchiest of odes, we’ll grant you, but dang is it true.

As contact centre managers, the moment we think our knowledge bases are done and dusted is the moment we’ve dropped the ball. Because, fun alert: they never are.

Knowledge bases are made up of customer, and sometimes staff, support content to help people successfully self-serve. By creating content which tackles recurring issues, we limit repetitive calls for both our customers and our agents. But a common misconception is that a killer knowledge base is a BIG one. Unlike mature cheese, knowledge bases should not be left in the fridge to age untouched. But neither should they be absent-mindedly fed like a cute puppy, until they’re an untameable beast made up of every enquiry anyone can think of. No one wants one of those for a pet. So how do we nurture our knowledge bases into perfection, without simply ‘growing’ them?

1) Prune baby, prune

The first, and most satisfying, place to start with a fit-to-burst knowledge base is to get rid of excess content. Reviewing the usage of our current articles, and seeing which ones our customers are consuming and learning from, is gold dust knowledge in itself.

As contact centres, we might accumulate 6 different knowledge articles on how customers can change their account passwords. Kids, they need ONE. Our job is to find the most effective needle in this haystack and make it shine, before (safely and responsibly) burning all the hay.

Golden KB rule #1 (there’s just one): GIVE MEANINGFUL, NOT MULTIPLE, SOLUTIONS.

One way to prune content is to identify articles that are:

  • Badly written/produced – rewrite it, reshoot it, rerecord it, or delete it.
  • Outdated- update it or delete it.
  • Poorly designed – redesign it or delete it.
  • Difficult to find - There’s no point having a stellar knowledge article if the customer journey to get there is a massive dog’s leg.

Alternatively, you can always call on us, too. At Adexchange we understand that knowledge base analytics can be time-consuming and tricky, but they’re something we love geeking out on.

2) What KEEPS coming up?

There are times when we need to add to our existing knowledge base. Most often, this is when agents are being repeatedly asked a question which has no knowledge base content around it.

By identifying the dialogues that our agents are getting drawn into, we can decipher the knowledge articles which still need writing, or improving.

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3) Trust the experts

Multiple articles about the same problem in a knowledge base can happen a LOT when knowledge bases are allowed to unfurl into ‘open forums’. The authors of these knowledge bases can range from customers who fancy themselves as self-help pioneers, to staff members who were particularly bored that day in 2007, to Aled the intern who never even got his own login.

Picture a Quora, Yahoo Answers, Mumsnet type vibe –they’re all great spaces to discuss the meaning of life, but not places we’d call on for fast and accurate solutions.

Pools of people’s ‘answers’ become clouded with different perspectives, methodologies, and ways of expressing advice. For a customer who has four minutes to work out how to change their delivery slot, this isn’t helpful.

It’s best to leave our knowledge base writing to content experts, who are au fait both with utilising our brand voice and adopting the effective principles of communication. Jed in IT, as much as we love him, still isn’t that guy. Just like we wouldn’t let a writer reprogramme our computer, we should resist letting a software engineer pen all our content. We need editorial consistency across the board, and outsourcing content-writing to professionals can be an invaluable move.

4) Categories and systems

At Adexchange, we love SYSTEMS when it comes to knowledge bases. Having a way to log when something in a knowledge article needs updating or deleting, is the holy grail. To be honest, without it, life gets grim.

In the same vein, categorising our knowledge bases slickly so that customers can navigate them like a knife through soft butter, is something we’ll never stop thanking ourselves for.

5) Never let go

The key to a timeless knowledge base is recognising that they’re time-sensitive, high maintenance, divas. To keep them performing, we need to delete their irrelevant articles, update existing ones, and create new ones whenever the need arises. Knowledge bases need constant nurturing, but don’t panic – at Adexchange, we’re cracking babysitters.

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6) Draw outside the lines

Mixing media is always a party, and knowledge bases are a great place to have fun with this.

Topics offer themselves to different formats, as do consumers. An article about how to put together a desk might function well as a video or audio file, whereas the refund process might be summed up tightly in an infographic. When text-based articles are the one, they can also be spiced nicely into FAQ pieces, or run as punchy and vivid how-to-summaries.

Remember, the information in knowledge bases should be homogenous, and their designs and templates should be consistent, BUT the texture of the content itself can be CREATIVE.

**

Have some glitzy stats for free: according to a Forrester (2018) study, 90% of customers want an immediate response to their customer service problem. According to the same study, customers prefer knowledge bases to all other self-service channels. The point is team, that these bodies of information are powerful things, which abide by another golden rule (okay, we lied, there’s two golden rules):

Variety is the spice of life, but not of knowledge bases” – an even newer ode, Adexchange 2021

Homogenous information is what makes a knowledge base exciting. We can, and should, mix media, but editorial consistency gives our customers the answers they need, frees up our agents to work on more technical projects, and confirms we’re doing our jobs really, very well.

If you’d like to send your knowledge base to the Adexchange creche, we love those kids. Just hit us up for a hand with looking after them.

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About the Author
Nick Herbert
Author: Nick Herbert
Managing Director

Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.

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Adexchange Media Limited
Company number: 04344957

The Old Garage, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7NP
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