Knowledge management systems hold many benefits – for employees and customers alike. Internally, they improve customer support and project efficiency. Additionally ensuring a consistent message and product knowledge. But it’s when you share your knowledge base externally that the benefits really start appearing. Giving customers access to a knowledge base improves their overall experience. It also empowers them by putting solutions directly in their hands.
That has a knock-on benefit for your bottom-line. PwC found that businesses offering a great customer experience see a 16% premium on their products and services. So, a well-rounded knowledge base can be a competitive differentiator. It also eases pressure on your support team. Companies that make knowledge available to employees and customers, reduce the time taken to resolve a problem by 20 to 80%.
Of course, the first step in achieving this is to make knowledge accessible to everyone. That includes your customers. Read on to learn why this step is so important for your customer success, and how it helps your customers to help themselves.
Meeting a growing desire
In our always-on, connected world, people are increasingly seeking answers online. The demand for phone support is dwindling. More people prefer Google over call centre staff. Millennials and Generation Z are quickly moving up the ladder in organisations and starting to make B2B buying decisions. As digital natives, they’re more likely to self-serve when encountering problems. Indeed 85% of all customer service interactions are predicted to take place without human intervention by 2020. By offering a knowledge base, you can meet this rising demand.
Quick resolutions needed
Modern customers also expect instant solutions to their issues. Especially if they’re a time-poor senior executive. These people tend to be the main B2B decision makers in their organisations. So you’ll want to make sure that all their needs are met. They want quick answers when something goes wrong or they are unsure about a feature. Instead of spending hours talking to a support team. Therefore, they’ll feel more satisfied when solutions are rapidly given through a knowledge base.
Lessening the need for company involvement
Having a knowledge base available for common problems and questions relieves pressure on your customer support team – whilst offering an improved experience for customers. If self-service tools fail to provide a solution, then the case can be escalated to a customer service rep. Decreasing the pressure on your team to field every enquiry and problem.
With an internal knowledge base, your reps will also be better informed. Everyone in your organisation will have access to the same information about your product. Meaning everyone is on the same page when it comes to best practice and solutions. With a knowledge base providing frontline assistance, reps will have more time to focus on challenging issues. That’ll likely boost job satisfaction as they’ll be constantly stimulated. Instead of bogged down with mundane, re-occurring requests.
Decreasing the dependence on your team will reduce your costs. Investing in a knowledge base now will pay-off in the long run. Making customers self-sufficient reduces demands on your team – so your staffing costs will decrease. It costs more to run a contact centre than to upload content to a knowledge base.
Furthermore, phone use has been in steady decline for the past six years. Forrester predicts that it will continue to fall as more digital channels are adopted. Whilst switching your phone lines off completely is probably a hasty move, your customers won’t miss a fully manned phone centre.
Gathering customer feedback
An added bonus is provided through customer feedback. Knowledge management works best when it’s a two-way street. Give customers a way to provide feedback about your solutions and the help tool itself. That way, your solutions and knowledge base can constantly improve. Even a simple ‘thumbs up’ at the end of a help article can provide a wealth of insights.
Canva’s knowledge management guides people through the basics of getting started and troubleshoots when problems occur. Uniquely, however, they also allow customers to suggest new features and feedback on the usefulness of the tool. Giving the company something to develop and improve on.
Improving customer use
Knowledge bases can do more than troubleshoot problems. They give customers a strong grounding in your product. Providing the same baseline understanding ensures that everyone uses your product as intended. So, they’ll get the most out of your tool because they’re using it in the right way.
Basic guides can help new users and as your knowledge base develops, you can add advanced how-tos. Your customers will get a better experience. They’ll constantly improve in their product use. Their results will be better and they’ll be more satisfied as a result.
Increased upsell opportunities
A better customer experience and higher satisfaction increases upsell opportunities. You’ll build a strong customer relationship. Which gives your sales team a stronger platform for further selling.
If your customers are using one product well and getting great results through it, they’ll be open to other products. It’ll be easier for them to justify buying more tools. If senior management sees good return-on-investment (ROI) on one product, they’ll be happy to sign-off on your other ones. Better understanding of your products will naturally create greater innovation and collaboration. Instead of actively selling to them, your customers may approach you first.
Finally, less demand on your customer support team means they can focus on higher-level tasks. Like optimising a customer’s use of a tool and building trust. Again, this has a knock-on effect on their likelihood to purchase future products.
Many organisations now operate globally – or aspire to. A knowledge base helps you scale your support without much additional resource. That means your customers will get the same information and support. Regardless of where they are in the world. They’ll be able to use a cloud-based knowledge platform whenever they need to. Without waiting for a support centre to open. This is far more effective than having a customer service rep on-call 24/7.
How to help your customers help themselves?
As you can tell, there are many reasons to invest in self-service customer support. However, it can be a big undertaking. There are several steps to do so that you can fully benefit from knowledge management.
Collect all your knowledge
First, you must collect all your company knowledge into one cohesive resource. That might include early versions of a knowledge base or customer FAQ. Consult with your customers, marketing, sales, customer service, tech and operations to ensure all bases are covered for your customers.
Make it useable
The next step is to make it user-friendly and ensure your customers know about it. Direct all support requests and enquiries through the knowledge base to build awareness. This will also help customers get used to the new support process. Soon, your knowledge base will be the first port of call for all their questions.
It’s worth launching your knowledge base with an internal and external comms plan. That way, every employee and customer will understand that they should turn to it first.
Make it searchable
Today’s customers have short attention spans and limited time. They don’t want to scroll through endless pages searching for a solution. A senior B2B buyer won’t have the patience to read your 50-page technical help document. So, you’ll want to offer a quick and user-friendly way to find what they need.
Provide solutions almost instantly. This’ll help your customers get on with their work day. Similarly, you should keep help articles relatively short and sweet. If they are on the long-side, consider shortening them and turning them into a series of steps.
Evernote masters this with its search function front-and-centre on its help page. It also promotes popular help pieces. And clearly marks ways for customers to get further help if needed.
Develop it over time
Self-service knowledge bases must always evolve to meet customer needs. That means you can forever improve and tweak it. What might start as a handful of help articles can develop, over time, into a library of assets.
As more customers use your knowledge base, you can learn what content is popular. Customer feedback can provide more inspiration for improvements. Collaborating with your customer support team and other colleagues can also provide food-for-thought.
Don’t fully replace your team
A note of caution: your self-service platform is not a full replacement for an amazing support team. There are some occasions that need a human touch. Always remember that a knowledge base is one tool in your customer support toolbox. It works best when used in tandem with other support, such as customer service reps and chatbots.
Putting customers in the centre
The best customer support always places the customer in the centre. The same applies to building your knowledge management. Because it has applications internally, it’s easy to overlook your customers. But the best knowledge management considers the needs of everyone.
Placing more information in your customers’ hands will be a long term investment. Not only will it develop a stronger relationship, but it’ll improve the use of your product. Knowledge bases give everyone a better experience. Your customer service team will thank you. The wider organisation will be grateful. But, most importantly, your customers will be happier as well.