The untapped value of a self-service knowledge base for your company

Catherine Heath | November 2, 2018

Standalone knowledge base software has many benefits for your company’s support strategy, and the right knowledge base can provide enormous value.

A knowledge base has value at many stages in the customer lifecycle. It also has benefits for your internal staff members. Standalone knowledge base software is also relatively inexpensive to invest in compared to some other types of software, so you get a lot of return on your money.

Of course, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. We’ll go through the potential benefits now.

1. Reduce resolution time

Support queries can be very complex or time-consuming to deal with. If your support agents have documentation to explain some of the elements, this will massively speed up resolution time.

According to Steven Van Belleghem, 92% of customers say speed is the most important issue when it comes to query resolution.

With the right documentation, sometimes you don't need the input of an agent at all. You can send relevant help content to your customers instead of waiting for one of your agents to be free to help them.

When your initially introduce your knowledge base, you will probably need to direct your customers to it.

2. Cut customer support costs

A knowledge base has the potential to dramatically cut your operational support costs.

“The cost of a do-it-yourself transaction is measured in pennies, while the average cost of a live service interaction (phone, e-mail, or webchat) is more than $7 for a B2C company and more than $13 for a B2B company.” (Harvard Business Review)

To make matters worse, the average cost of a live contact interaction has now risen by 38% since 2009, from $7 to nearly $10. This is because queries are far more complex than they used to be – partly as a result of the rise in self-service.

A self-service strategy isn’t an area to save money, so much as an incentive to spend it wisely. 81% of customers now attempt self-service before reaching out to support agents, so it’s unavoidable.

Knowledge bases still require investment but you will reap rewards in the long term.

3. Free up time for support agents

A knowledge base will also free up more time for your support agents. They can stop handling so many repetitive queries, and focus on the more complex problems.

Customers can either find your knowledge base through a link in your app, typing keywords into search engines, or through an autoresponder when they email support.

Alternatively, staff can email a link to the relevant knowledge base article in the initial stage when customers are learning to transition to your knowledge base.

4. Improve staff morale and retention

Low job satisfaction is a huge factor behind agent attrition. As a result, high turnover costs you money by increasing the need for more recruitment and training. Repetitive conversations is one of the top reasons that agents leave their jobs, so documentation that removes this need reduces turnover.

If support agents feel valued because you’ve invested in documentation that makes their jobs easier, this improves staff morale. It also makes customers happier that they have documentation to turn to instead of engaging in an exchange.

5. Preserve organizational knowledge

Your knowledge base is a Knowledge Management solution. This means it can help you manage the knowledge contained in your organization better to improve productivity.

If your support agents are handling every query personally, then this means the knowledge is stored inside their heads. If staff members leave your company, then this knowledge goes with them.

Turning essential knowledge into helpful documentation is a good way to preserve that knowledge, for the benefit of customers and staff. A knowledge base also helps with training new staff members without requiring existing staff to take too much time out of their jobs.

Check out our other post on how knowledge management can benefit your customer support team.

6. Increase customer satisfaction

67% of customers say they would rather use a self-service knowledge base than speak to a person.

Access to the internet means that customer service habits have dramatically changed in the last few years, and customers no longer want to wait on the phone for an answer. Even sending an email seems too arduous at times.

Give customers what they expect by providing a self-service knowledge base. If your staff are happier and queries are being resolved more quickly, your customers’ satisfaction will naturally increase.

7. Improve customer onboarding

You can improve the chances of your customers onboarding successfully with your product by providing useful documentation.

Although your product is probably intuitive enough, some people may need or want a little more explanation to get started. That’s where documentation comes in very handy. It shows you care about customers before and after the sale.

This is the beginning of your (hopefully long-term) relationship with your customers, and quality documentation is one way to show you value them.

8. Improve customer retention

Many customers would be more satisfied with your product if they knew what it could do.

A knowledge base teaches your customers all about what your product can do for them, instead of expecting them to discover it for themselves.

This improves feature adoption of your product as customers are empowered to learn more about it. Documentation helps improve product User Experience.

By suggesting new knowledge base articles for your customers to read, you are investing in their education and improving customer retention.

9. Boost your SEO

Search Engine Optimization is not just a matter for marketing teams. It also applies to your knowledge base.

Public-facing documentation is indexable by search engines. It’s treated as content, just the same as a blog post or website page. This means your knowledge base has SEO value for your company.

You only need to put in a little effort when you write your documentation to optimize it for keywords, and ensure that potential customers are finding their way into your site through search.

10. Educate prospective customers

Documentation can come in handy even before the onboarding process. Did you know that documentation can even attract customers to your business?

Many prospects want to learn as much about your product as possible before they invest in a new piece of software or another product. Especially in the B2B industries, documentation is often a key factor in decision-making. Sometimes it may even be required.

If you’re offering a software product to developers, then your need for a comprehensive knowledge base is off the charts.

Final remarks

A knowledge base is not just a cost-saving measure – it’s an investment in your customer support strategy.

Once you’ve invested in your new knowledge base, you’ll never look back and wonder how you ever did without one. It benefits both your staff and customers in a huge number of ways, with virtually no limit on the number of people who can use it.

We wrote a whole post on how knowledge management is changing customer service.

KnowledgeOwl is our knowledge base software for customer–focused teams. Contact one of our friendly team members today to have a chat about what we can do for you. 


About the author
Catherine Heath
Catherine Heath

Community builder at KnowledgeOwl. Blogs. Copy. Documentation. Freelance content writer for creative and ethical companies. Contributing to open source and teaching technical tools.

Catherine blogs on her personal websites Away With Words and Awkward Writer. She runs the Write the Docs Northwest meetup group. 


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