Knowlegde Base Software – The Ultimate Guide

This ultimate guide of knowledge base software will guide you in choosing the best knowledge base software and tools for your company with tips on creating and managing a knowledge base efficiently and how to encourage team collaboration in the process.

đź•—15 min read

Knowledge base software

Customer knowledge base vs. internal knowledge base

Why you need both?

Customer knowledge base helps you increase customer satisfaction 

As the general public is becoming more and more tech-savvy, online users simply prefer to find answers on their own. Several studies have shown that 67% of consumers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative and 91% of consumers said they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.

Having a customer self-service knowledge base also lowers the burden of your customer support team. As your users can now find answers to more standard questions via your knowledge base on their own, your support agents can focus their time on handling complex queries and in turns, reduce time-to-respond and enhance support quality.

Research shows

67%

of consumers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative

Research shows

91%

of consumers said they would use an online knowledge base if it were tailored to their needs

Internal knowledge base helps improve your internal operations

As your business continues to grow, there are lots of information and guidelines that team members need to know in order to do their work efficiently. If information isn’t shared in a way that is easily accessible, it will result in lots of repeated questions and meetings that lower the productivity of your team. Having a well-managed internal knowledge base helps your team works more efficiently in many ways:

First, it speeds up onboarding. Research shows that it takes 8 months on average for a new hire to get fully up-to-speed. By having a well-structured internal knowledge base, you can help new hires get up to speed more quickly by providing them with well-structured on-boarding checklists and reading lists, so they can prepare themselves by reading all the necessary materials before training.

Second, it enhances productivity. A McKinsey report shows that on average, employees spend 20% of their work day just to search for information. Put it in another way, it’s like you hire 5 employees but only 4 show up to work, the fifth is off searching for answers, but not providing real value. By centralizing all the important information and guidelines in your team knowledge base, your teammates won’t have to search in multiple places just to find a piece of information.

Third, it helps to retain knowledge when employees leave your company. On average, people only stay in their job for 3.2 years. By making sure knowledge is documented and shared, you can help make sure important company wisdom won’t walk out of your door together as your people leave.

The cost of inefficient knowledge transfer is huge

It takes

8 mos

on average for a new hire to get fully up-to-speed

Employees spend

20%

of their work day just to search for information

People only stay for

3.2 yrs

in their job
on average

How to choose the right knowledge base software

There are many tools on the market to choose from if you want to build a customer knowledge base or an internal team knowledge base for your company. The best tools should work well with how your team works. When choosing a knowledge base software, below are some of the features that you should consider:

Is the search good?

A knowledge base is only useful if people can get answers quickly when they need it. So look for a knowledge base software that supports powerful search, both in terms of speed and accuracy.

Many of the knowledge base softwares on the market can even learn from your interaction to improve the search algorithms. These are the softwares that you want to look for.

Otherwise, customers will just find it easier to just contact your support staff and your teammates might just find it quicker to just tap on someone’s shoulder to ask instead and interrupts their work.

Any built-in features to help ensure content are accurate and up-to-date?

A knowledge base is also only useful if the content inside are accurate and up-to-date. As your company grows and your product expands, it’s easy to forget which articles need to be updated.

Look for knowledge base softwares that offer built-in workflows to remind you to review your content if it is not updated nor reviewed for a set period of time. Otherwise, your customers and teammates will just find your knowledge base unreliable and not relying on it anymore.

Does it integrate well with other tools your team is already using?

Nowadays, teams often rely on multiple tools to get their job done, by choosing a team knowledge management tool that integrates well with the tools that your team heavily uses, your teammates can easily add new information to your knowledge base or retrieve information that they need easily directly in their workflow.

For examples, some knowledge base tools in the market offer browser extensions (e.g. Chrome Extension and Safari Extension) so your teammates can easily look up saved information on your knowledge base while using any web apps, e.g. when they are answering support tickets, client emails, etc. without needing to open so many tabs.

Does it offer collaborative features?

Different teams in your company are experts in different knowledge areas so maintaining a knowledge base should be a team effort. Look out for tools that make it easy for the team to collaborate on building the knowledge bases together.

Some collaborative features that you can look for in a knowledge base software include:

Real-time collaborative editing – so your teammates can edit the same articles at the same time and see real-time changes.

Advanced permission control – so you can allow teammates to contribute while not needing to worry they might accidentally edit the wrong parts. Some knowledge base softwares also allows you to set reviewers for content so you can still allow junior staff to contribute (which helps to build a good knowledge sharing culture) but content would only be published when the reviewers have reviewed the content.

List of best knowledge base softwares in 2020

So with the above consideration when choosing a knowledge base software for your team, here are a list of knowledge base softwares that worth exploring:

Focuses on customer knowledge base with help desk system as addons:

Intercom

The “Intercom educate” feature helps you create a knowledge base for your clients easily. To help you improve your knowledge base and improve customer support, Intercom also provides reports and insights on searches that return no results and article reactions.

Other than the knowledge base feature, it also acts as a customer CRM and you can segment your users based on actions that they’ve taken on your app and other attributes like location, signup date, etc. One of the best features that we like about Intercom is their “in-app messaging” feature where you can communicate with your users directly via an in-app widget instead of simply via emails.

Knowledge base software - Intercom

Zendesk

Zendesk makes it easy to create a customer knowledge base that fits your company style and branding. You can also translate your knowledge base articles into over 40 different languages to provide a localized experience for your customers in the different parts of the world.

Zendesk also offers built-in reports to help you understand what your users are looking for and whether they are finding the right answers, helping you to understand what areas you might need to create new knowledge base articles in.

Other than the knowledge base feature, Zendesk also offers a full help desk management system with live chat support.

Knowledge base software - Zendesk

Freshdesk

Other than allowing you to create a self-service customer knowledge base easily, Freshdesk also provides lots of features to help you leverage those knowledge base content. For examples, you can leverage answer bots to help customers get the best answer from your knowledge base content and it can automatically suggest related articles when customers are trying to contact you.

Just like Intercom and Zendesk, you can also create multilingual knowledge base easily for a global audience.

Knowledge base software - Freshdesk

HelpScout

HelpScout also makes it very easy to create beautiful and branded customer knowledge base for your company. Like Zendesk, it also provide good reports and analytics to help you improve your knowledge base.

HelpScout also offers integrations with 50+ popular tools like Slack, Jira, FullStory etc. to help make your day-to-day workflow more efficient.

Knowledge base software - HelpScout

Focuses on internal knowledge knowledge base
(some with the option to create a public knowledge base for customers):

Kipwise

Kipwise is the perfect internal knowledge base solution for your team if your team uses Slack. With direct Slack sign-in, handy Slack actions and commands to create and search for team knowledge, you simply don’t need to leave Slack to build up your team knowledge base.

Kipwise is also integrated with Google Drive, Trello, Airtable and more, and provides browser extensions like Chrome Extension so you can access your team knowledge base easily when you are working with your other favorite tools.

With their real-time collaborative editor, built-in workflows for content review, you can easily get your team to collaborate on building your internal team knowledge base while ensuring content are accurate and up-to-date.

You can also group selected Kipwise Pages into an easy-to-search customer help center – making it convenient for your team to manage your customer facing knowledge base and internal knowledge base in one place.

Knowledge base tool - Kipwise

Tettra

Tettra is an internal knowledge base solution with smart workflows to help you answer repetitive questions in your team. It’s simple and easy to use and offers integrations with Slack, Trello, GitHub and more.

With Tettra, you can document important processes and information in one centralized place to help you onboard new teammates faster and reduce the number of repeated questions in your company.

Knowledge base tool - Tettra

Nuclino

Nuclino is a lightweight and collaborative wiki to house all your team’s knowledge, docs, and notes. Using Nuclino, you can create beautiful internal documentations using their real-time collaborative editor.

Nuclino is also integrated with apps like Slack, Google Drive, and more so you can reference content from other sources easily when creating your internal documentation.

Knowledge base tool - Nuclino

What to include in your knowledge base + useful templates

The major goal of having a knowledge base is to help your customers and teammates find the information that they need, so your users can use your product effectively and your teammates can do their work more efficiently. So when deciding what to include in your customer knowledge base and team internal knowledge base, ask yourself the below questions:

What to include for your customer knowledge base:

  • What are the core things that a new user of your product should know? Add a section to group all the getting started guides to help new users get to know your product more easily. 

  • What are the common questions that your users ask? Check your help desk system to look for the repeated questions that your customer support agents often receive. Provide answers to these common questions so your agents can focus their time on handling more complex inquiries.
  • What are some common struggles or bottlenecks that your users might have when using your product? Check out your product usage analytics or use tools like FullStory to find out the common struggles that your users might have. Other than improving your UI, consider to add tooltips that link to the relevant knowledge base articles. 

  • What are the things that your users usually search for in your knowledge base?  Look at your reports, are there topics that your users often search for but there are no relevant knowledge base articles yet? Also check out the terminology that your users use to help you insert more relevant keywords when writing your knowledge base articles. 

If you need more ideas, check out how companies like Intercom and Zendesk structure their customer help center.

What to include for your internal knowledge base:

  • What are the things that everyone in your team should know? Those are usually the things that HR will walk through new hires when they first join. So they likely include company mission, employee guidelines such as holiday policy, office essentials such as wifi password.
  • What are the frequently asked questions in the team? One best way to continuously build your knowledge base is by adding more information when someone asked a question that you cannot find the answer on your knowledge base yet.
  • Team guidelines and best practices – for example, to help your sales team close deals faster and increase win rates, you can share sales playbook, demo best practices, script, email templates and document sales reviews such as common objections, key customer pain points, lost reasons.

If you need more ideas, check out Kipwise’s use cases page or Notion’s template gallery for some ideas on what documentation to create for your internal knowledge base.

Encouraging team collaboration on building up your knowledge base

Different people in your team are experts about different things, so maintaining a knowledge base should be a team effort. Below are some tips to encourage our teammates to build up your knowledge base in a collaborative way.

1. Involve your teammates when choosing the knowledge base software

When deciding which knowledge base software to use, involve your teammates in the decision process. Instead of simply announcing the “ideal” tool that you picked, ask your teammates for feedback on what they care about when choosing a knowledge base software. There might be areas that your team members value in a knowledge base software that you may not realize.

2. Make it a priority and reward contribution

Often times, helping to maintain the knowledge base is not directly tied to one’s KPI (especially for the team internal knowledge base), so we have to make teammates feel that their contribution is acknowledged when they are contributing to the knowledge base.

Consider rewarding teammates who actively contribute to the knowledge sharing process. It can be as small as show a little appreciation like giving a thumbs up on Slack or giving out small prizes like Amazon coupons to team members who contributed the most every quarter, etc.

To simplify the process, try exploring team culture apps like HeyTaco! and Disco to make it easier to recognize team members in real-time when they live your values.

Employee recognition software - Disco

3. Lead by example and remind teammates

It often takes time for teammates to adapt to new tools and processes. Stay patient throughout the process, and lead by example. Managers can take the lead to create the initial articles and share with the team.

When teammates answer a question that isn’t on the knowledge base yet, remind them to also save it to the knowledge base. Likewise, when teammates forget to search the team knowledge base before asking a question on your team chat, try to answer them with content on the knowledge base so they will remember to search first next time.

Conclusion

Building a customer knowledge base can help you scale your customer support effort more efficiently and enhance customer satisfaction at the same time. While building an internal team knowledge base is just as important to improve your internal operation and increase productivity for your team.

There are many knowledge base softwares in the market to help you build a knowledge base. It’s hard to conclude just one perfect tool as different teams have different needs. But areas that you should consider when choosing the tool include:

  1. Does it offer a powerful search?
  2. Any built-in features to help ensure content are accurate and up-to-date?
  3. Does the software integrate well with other tools that your team is already using?
  4. Does it offer good collaborative features?

We hope the tips above can help you in choosing your knowledge base software and encourage your team to build up your knowledge base in a collaborative way.