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Blog

Apr 28, 2016

3 Ways to Keep Your Knowledgebase in Great Shape

What does this exercise gear and knowledgebase management have in common

[Estimated read time: 4 minutes]

Creating and maintaining a knowledgebase is like going to the gym. You know you should do it because it will be good for you in the long run, but it's difficult to get motivated. And despite what those late-night infomercials might say, there really isn't a quicker, easier way to get to the end result -- not for fitness, anyway. But there is an easier way to create and maintain an accurate knowledgebase despite constant organizational changes. Here are three ways to tackle the task of knowledge management without losing your head.

1. Take a targeted approach

If you don't have a knowledgebase (or you have one that's outdated), building an accurate, up-to-date knowledgebase can feel overwhelming. This is understandable, considering that information continues to grow at a rate of 40% to 60% each year. Plus, most people approach this project with the idea that they must catalog every piece of knowledge contained in the entire organization. Few stop to ask themselves, "What purpose does that serve?" It's unlikely that 99% of your customers would ever ask about a large portion of those issues, so why spend the time? When building a knowledgebase, start with only the information that will address the majority of customer issues. Chances are, a smaller subset of information will answer almost all customer questions.

As customers begin to use your new knowledgebase through self-service, some of them will ask questions for which there aren't answers. Use a knowledge management system (KMS) that can bubble up these questions, so your team can begin to fill in the gaps as they are identified. An analysis of the most frequently asked questions can also provide valuable insight into what your customers are thinking and feeling.

2. Keep it fresh without extra work

An outdated, inaccurate knowledgebase is essentially useless. But how do you keep it up-to-date when the information changes all the time? The best knowledgebase tools pull information from several different original sources, instead of relying on the knowledge management team to re-write everything as a knowledgebase article. Whether the original information comes from a page on your website, a page on a trusted partner's website, or an internal document, the customer will never know the difference -- in the self-service interface, they will all the look the same. And as those sources are updated, so is the knowledgebase. 

For example, let's say a customer is using the self-service tool on your website to ask about the owner's manual for her car. All the owner's manuals already live on your site, so a smart KMS will draw information from the existing content instead of requiring the creation of a new knowledgebase article. The source information can also come from outside your organization. For instance, if the customer asks a question about the Bluetooth in her car, the knowledgebase can pull in an answer from Bluetooth's website (as long as you have approved Bluetooth's site as a trusted source). When information in the knowledgebase is sourced from original documents, the content is always fresh.

3. Make it easy to use

One of the reasons managing a knowledgebase can seem so scary is because most authoring tools are extremely complex. Requiring the IT team to be involved every time a new article needs to be created is not sustainable. It's important to look for a KMS that has non-technical authoring, enabling content creators to easily add new information to the knowledgebase. The system should also make it easy to see trends in what customers are asking, not only to identify potential gaps in the knowledgebase but to inform strategic decisions.

For example, if 1,000 customers accessed your knowledgebase last week, a KMS that uses natural language processing can understand that 300 of them asked about the same topic (even if their questions were worded slightly differently). Your first step would be to write a knowledgebase article that addresses that topic, and your next step would be to find out why so many people struggled with the same issue last week. Companies have used this type of information to uncover issues with newly launched products, identify potential causes for recalls, and gather insights into their market.

 

Just as it can be tough to find the motivation to hit the gym, the idea of maintaining a knowledgebase can seem overwhelming. But an up-to-date, easy-to-use knowledgebase pays off in the long run, and the right technology can make the journey much easier.

 

Want to learn how a KMS can simplify your work and make your customers happier? Check out Astute Knowledge, the world's smartest knowledge management and customer self-service platform.

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