7 Reasons Your Company Needs an Online Knowledge Base

Written by Wholegrain Team - July 28, 2014

Savvy businesses know that excellent customer service is the key to helping them stand out, head and shoulders, above their main competitors. But how can businesses improve the quality of their customer service while keeping costs low?

One solution, which has the ability to improve customer satisfaction and boost staff efficiency, is to build an online knowledge base.

What Is a Knowledge Base?

An online knowledge base has many benefits to customers and staff alike. It has a variety of different uses, but in general is a place where information can be organised and stored, shared and searched.

The range of knowledge bases far exceeds simple FAQs, although that is an essential element of them – they can contain how-to articles, troubleshooting information, manuals, useful updates, and much more.

Knowledge bases can be internal to a company, external or a combination of the two. There is one vital difference however – an external knowledge base can be accessed by your customers but only maintained by you, whereas an internal knowledge base is an excellent place for companies to share information and collaborate on projects. They are generally set up so all employees can edit and contribute to the bank of information, hence often referred to as a Wiki.

Are you debating whether your company could benefit from an online knowledge base? We’ve put together 7 valuable reasons why you can’t afford to miss out.

1. Customer Support

Many customers prefer to seek out advice online before asking for help. By building a knowledge base filled with useful content such as troubleshooting information and FAQs, customers have a point of reference to search for a solution without having to speak to an adviser.

This has many benefits to both customers and businesses. Customers will feel they’re receiving a better level of customer service, because they can find a solution themselves via a self-service method which is available to them 24/7. What’s more, when they do need to speak to a customer service adviser they are less likely to have to wait in a long, frustrating telephone queue as the company will have fewer calls to answer.

For businesses, it improves the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the service by reducing the load on the help desk and shortening call times. In addition, if a help desk adviser has access to a knowledge base equipped with common problems and solutions, they can get to the root of the problem and deal with the customer quickly and efficiently.

2. Customer Information Resource

An external knowledge base can do more than simply provide help and support – it can be a rich source of information for your customers. Equipped with user manuals, how-to articles and FAQs, customers will soon start to see your website as an excellent resource, giving them reason to return frequently.

Excellent for customer service, this can also help to build your authority as an expert in your field and improve customer satisfaction. Customers can find the information they require, quickly and easily, which is convenient for them and helps to reduce complaints for you.

It’s also an excellent way to keep your customers informed about forthcoming products and services, and any improvements or updates to your current products and services.

3. Drive Traffic to Your Website

A good online knowledge base helps to drive traffic to your website, making it excellent for SEO purposes.

Googlebots and the like will thrive on the useful, consistently updated information, which shows them your website is a going concern and helps to keep it high in the search engine results.

Moreover, by providing your customers with useful, valuable content that’s difficult to track down elsewhere, they will recognise your value and return repeatedly to your website. This will improve customer engagement with your brand and increase the time people spend on your website – which sends out another positive signal to those Googlebots.

4. Repository of Best Practices

Much of a company’s intellectual property is stored in the heads of its staff, but what happens when staff go on holiday, move to pastures new, or retire?

Building an internal knowledge base, where experienced members of your team can write down their best practices, important information and operations guides, means this information is never lost.

Using an internal knowledge base has many benefits to a company. In addition to acting as a valuable memory backup, it helps to keep procedures and information consistent across the company. It’s also much easier to search for important information, because everything is in one place, making it vital to the productivity and success of your workforce.

5. Staff Training Tool

The cost of training new staff can cut into a company’s budget, and it can be difficult to keep track of rapid changes within a company. A knowledge base can help on both counts.

By building a knowledge base filled with company policies and procedures, how-to guides and valuable content about your products and services, new staff can take a ‘hands on’ approach to learning and be up and running in no time.

Plus when company policies change, a knowledge base is a far more practical way of ensuring that all staff have access to the latest information. Instead of worrying whether several versions of the same document are knocking about in various places, leaving staff tracking back through their email folders to find the latest version, they can go straight to the source and be confident they have the right document with the minimum of fuss.

6. Collaboration & Decision-making

A Wiki-style internal knowledge base is an excellent tool for staff to collaborate on projects, especially if they are spread across different departments or in different offices across the country, or even the globe.

Staff can add documents as they are written so everybody can keep up to date with the latest developments, plus it limits duplicate research and allows for information to be shared easily.

A workplace knowledge base is an excellent place for brainstorming ideas and facilitating communication and discussion – a sort of online conference call, if you like. This tool has the potential to increase productivity and save time. It also makes your staff feel their input is essential to the overall success of the company – and employee satisfaction is a great boost to productivity and a happy workforce.

7. Easy to Manage and Grow

Finally a knowledge base, whether internal, external, or a combination of both, is easy to access and use. Most people are used to the internet so navigation is simple and there’s no need for specialist software when you need to update any of the information.

Because companies and policies change over time, it can be a pain trying to ensure that everybody has access to the latest version of an important document. Instead of sending out emails to all employees and hoping they read and file the information, simply update the relevant documents online and it’s instantly accessible to everybody.

Knowledge bases also make it easier to find information, because each article or document can be tagged according to a particular category or categories making search a cinch.

And as your company develops and grow, your knowledge base can develop and grow with it.

Knowledge bases can be a valuable resource to large and small companies alike. They make it easy to share information with customers and staff, and they can help to cut costs while improving efficiency and service.

An excellent customer service tool, they can also act as a memory backup, an online staff training tool, and a conversion machine that helps to drive traffic to your website.

Do you use a knowledge base for your company? What are your favourite features and benefits? Join in the discussion below.