The speed and ease with which a customer is able to find a solution to his or her problem is all part of the customer experience
A knowledge base is one of many self-service tools you can offer your customers, so they can find answers for themselves without asking for help and waiting for you to reply. Think of the last time you assembled furniture—sure, we’ve all run into a few unhelpful instructions before, but the scarier alternative is calling in and listening to “Now attach widget G to slot Z” for two hours straight. Sometimes the best solution is one that helps you help yourself.
Unlike that time you almost rage-quit while assembling your bedroom set, a knowledge base can be instructive and headache free.
How? From top to bottom, knowledge bases should be educational, motivational, and organized. They must solve common problems efficiently. An exemplary case of “easy reading is damn hard writing,” the language used must direct the customer like highway signs. They must save a customer time. Most of all, a knowledge base should build upon itself to coalesce into an educational archive that’s accessible and practical.
It’s not easy to do (understatement of the month), so here are some examples you can follow from companies who are doing knowldge bases right.
4 great knowledge base examples
While we’ve previously explored how to write a practical and useful knowledge base article, today we’re examining four stellar knowledge bases that are worthy of emulating.
Let’s take some inspiration from the greats and see what we can learn from a selection of knowledge bases that have their act together.
1. Asana's tutorials
Many knowledge bases start off with a giant search bar in the middle of the page. What makes Asana different is that they understand their three most important inquiries: the basics, the multiple functionalities, and leadership tips on using their product effectively. In short, it’s a very useful guide.
When you click on the basics, this is what their menu looks like:
This is by far one of the most comprehensive, well-designed knowledge bases we've seen. Knowledge bases—especially for a tool like Asana—are invaluable to on-boarding new customers and users; in fact, they could serve as a warm and friendly first impression. Check out Asana’s knowledge base for yourself.
2. Loco2's knowledge base
Here’s a look at one of our friends, Loco2, a service where you can book train tickets like plane tickets.
Loco2 is a straightforward service, so it makes sense why their front page showcases the two most important inquiries: booking and traveling. If they were to create something like Asana’s, it would be too complex and frustrating to get answers.
It’s important to envision how and where a customer might utilize this knowledge base. They may be at the train station, confused and lost, desperately looking for a solution—which is why Loco2’s knowledge base has this kind of design.
The face of their knowledge base is ideal, but what makes their service even better is how their articles are designed. Here’s an example:
The “In This Article” is just good design—it tells customers what to expect instead of making them search for it. A simple table of contents within the content is invaluable to directing your customers and providing everything they need to answer their questions.
3. Dropbox's help center
For a service like Dropbox, it makes sense to have separate categories for basics like payment or account and an FAQ underneath. Adding images also makes the design of the page more user-friendly versus having the text “Payment” hyperlinked. Those little nuances differentiate the experience and allow easy navigation.
This is a standard knowledge base, one that encompasses all concerns and questions. If your product’s functionality is seemingly self-evident like Dropbox, it’s useful to have your knowledge base set up this way, as opposed to a software like Asana, where having a guide that educates your customers and walks them through the process is indeed helpful.
4. Yoast's knowledge base
When I came across Yoast’s knowledge base, I fell in love with how they organized an abundance of content.
For a service like Yoast, it’s practical to create entirely separate categories for all the services and functionalities that they work with. It’s not practical to have a FAQ here because they have too many different services and functions for compiling a short list of the most asked questions.
Instead, making each functionality or service a category with its own content creates an effortless user experience. Imagine if they didn’t have those categories and only relied on a giant search bar. Sure, the search would eventually lead you to the answer, but it may take a great deal of sorting through lots of information, and landing on something that seemed like the solution but isn’t only adds to the frustration.
Content Complements Conversations—It Doesn’t Replace It
The “Open” sign is always lit for an online business—at least that’s how the customer sees things. Looking for help even at odd hours and not finding it carries the same disappointment as showing up to your favorite locale and finding it closed.
Although your business may run 24/7, you don’t (and shouldn’t).
“Good words are worth much, and cost little,” says George Herbet. Help content breaks down barriers to providing round-the-clock service while relieving the time, money, and pressure laid on your support team.
Last year, Wistia shared this fascinating graph around their own support department’s numbers. Without sacrificing service quality, their Learning Center allowed a support team of three to achieve some heroic numbers.
Envision the scenario: a customer discovers your business and has some very basic questions, but you don’t have a knowledge base. Count the number of steps and the time they have to take if they’re calling or emailing. A simple inquiry could turn into 10 minutes instead of 10 seconds—why not provide a click-and-done, option?
Obviously, you can’t let help content become a wall that keeps out customers. Instead, approach the logistics of your knowledge from a simple proactive perspective.
Leonardo Inghiller and Micah Solomon, in Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit, explain the art between two different kinds of services:
Reactive service is a pretty ineffective way to create loyal customers. To get on the fast track to customer loyalty, your company needs something better.
The magic happens when you, your systems, and the employees throughout the ranks of your business anticipate the needs of your customers, learning to recognize and respond to the needs of your customers before they are expressed—sometimes before your customers even realize they have a need. That is the difference between providing ho-hum service by merely reacting to customer requests and building loyalty through true anticipatory service.
They share an example of an engineer in a hotel replacing a light bulb. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a mother with her two sons coming from the pool. She’s dripping wet, wrapped in towels, fumbling with the door, and carrying bags. The engineer put his tools down, climbs down the ladder, goes into the lobby and opens the door for her. He asks about her day at the pool, hits the elevator button, and wishes her well.
In another universe, that same engineer could have said, “That’s not part of my job description. I’m just here to fix what’s broken.”
A knowledge base can serve as this kind of anticipatory service.
Like the perceptive engineer, we can find the patterns in the support queue and use those to anticipate what new customers are going to ask. It’s not just about showing up; it’s about showing up with the right intentions. Although a knowledge base can solve commonplace problems as well as more technical ones, it doesn’t replace the human beings on the front lines—it assists them.
By having a great support team that’s reachable, as well as a knowledge base that’s accessible, anticipatory service reflects something remarkable about an organization: their vigilance, precision, and understanding of the whole customer experience.
Not having a knowledge base forces your customers to enter a labyrinth. By having a system fueled by empathy, with a team of people who deeply care about their customers’ wants and concerns, it’s like saying, “We’ve been waiting for you. Welcome.”
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