In industry today, the value contribution of the customer service department is in question.
The following quote is the crux of our case for optimizing the use of your customer service knowledge base (your no.1 ticket deflection tool):
…stooping low, whilst bearing heavy burdens.
The 2020-21 pandemic.
It posed an unprecedented challenge for digital customer service functions..
“It caused significant shifts in almost everything, including how companies and customers interact, engage, and transact”, says Alan Webber, of IDC
(International Data Corporation – premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for IT, Telecoms and Consumer Tech).
Discussing the respondent analysis from his firm’s landmark study called, Future of Customers and Consumers 2022 top 10 predictions, Webber reveals:
“The key finding is that so many companies…didn’t include digitally transforming how to engage customers and consumers.”
When the pandemic forced their hand, it became obvious that they might have digitally transformed their ERP system or components of their procurement system but had not done the hard work necessary to really engage digitally with customers.“
But where should we practically begin with engaging digitally with customers?
“Engaging digitally” is a broad brushstroke at best.
So, how do we achieve a more useful and definitive direction?
The (aforementioned) HubSpot Annual State of Service Report.
HubSpot’s report was based on contributions from “1,400 respondents, representing companies ranging in size from 1 to 10 employees up to over 10,000 employees…from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.”
And as you can imagine there were a number of good quality, actionable takeaway lessons from this report.
But to help you cut to the most useful tips for perfecting your WordPress customer service knowledge base – we’ve sampled our top 6 highlights the study, listed below:
- Service Leaders Want More Time Spent Helping Instead of Searching
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT) remains the most important KPI for almost 75% of customer service leaders
- Almost 50% are now also responsible for customer experience and ensuring customer success
- A lack of prioritization: translating to inconsistency of customer care
- Too many tools: often adding more complexity than value
- Nearly half of all service agents already struggle to manage difficult conversations, and yet they’re increasingly expected to support new cross-sell and upsell goals in order to combat a growing misconception of service teams
But before we jump in and begin to wade knee deep into the details, here are a couple of fundamentals that’ll help you master the basics first.
What is a customer knowledge base?
A customer knowledge base is an online repository of organized information about the products and services of a company.
Customers can access the knowledge base to find answers to their questions on an on-demand basis.
A knowledge base can set your organization apart from competitors by equipping them with the information they need to solve their problems on a self-service basis.
Organization and accessibility distinguish a knowledge base from a database, manual, or handbook.
A customer service knowledge base should use multiple content formats to successfully engage audiences, including:
- PDF documents
- Audio recordings
- Charts and spreadsheets
- Downloadable files and updates
The primary objective being to deliver the exact information the customer is searching for with minimal fuss.
In this way, customer service agents do not have to spend as much time answering common queries, and through such efficiencies can deliver better quality support to the customers who need it.
Key features of a knowledge base
Knowledge bases are a great idea, but if they are not well-executed, the user experience will be poor. Here are some non-negotiable features of a knowledge base:
1. Well-organized, relevant information
Information is the fuel of a knowledge base.
You might figure a knife with a blunt blade being like a knowledge base without organized and accessible material that answers common customer queries.
This foundational work provides an unmistakable cutting edge at the user interface.
2. Easy to edit
Authoring a customer service knowledge base at industrial scale is typically a collaborative effort.
Creators should be able to edit information so that it remains comprehensive and up-to-date.
3. Fast service
It has been quoted that as much as 60% of customers prefer to use self-service resources than to interact with agents. The main reason being speed of problem resolution.
Attention span and patience for protracted searching, sifting, and reading documents will be short.
Well crafted knowledge base software makes the delivery of customer solutions quick and simple.
The knock-on effect is an uptick in customer satisfaction and increased knowledge base use.
4. A search engine
The search box is a critical instrument for delivering customer solutions at speed.
Authoring results based around relevant customer-centric keywords is essential for fast delivery.
Even with the best user-friendly website navigation leading customers to well-organized resources, your search bar will typically be preferred for convenience alone.
Users consider search to be a time-saving shortcut.
In addition to on-site search results, many organizations also choose to make their search results crawlable. This is so that users can find their answers via the leading search engines too.
5. Integrated feedback and analytics
Failing to address customer feedback is like allowing your customers to dial-up your business and get a repeated dead tone.
Organizations that use knowledge bases carefully monitor user engagement to establish if the user experience is adequate and customers are being served properly.
6. Timely escalation where needed
A knowledge base has its limits and customers need to be equipped with actionable ways to speak to the customer services team if their problem cannot be solved by self-service.
Why is a customer knowledge base important?
A customer knowledge base can become an authentic asset to the customer service department of a company.
If it achieves good engagement from the customer base, it alleviates pressure on the customer service team who can serve a smaller pool of customers better.
Here’s why a knowledge base matters to your business.
A knowledge base is a comprehensive resource for customer information
The completeness of a customer knowledge base can make it an unrivaled source of customer information.
It can include anything and everything relevant to the customer’s experience of your company’s products and services, including those obscure inquiries and troubleshooting issues that may leave even the most knowledgeable employees stumped.
A priceless ‘get out of jail free card’ during troublesome exchanges of customer complaints.
Customers prefer to help themselves if given the opportunity
If given the choice, your customers do not want to be waiting for a customer services assistant or chatbot to come to their aid.
For the majority of customers, a fast response time is a priority, and surveys show that a large proportion of customers are more than happy to help themselves to the solutions they need.
Why you need a customer knowledge base
In a competitive marketplace, having a customer knowledge base can help your business stand out.
Let’s look at the financial, operational, and reputational benefits of investing in a knowledge base for your customers:
Boost customer loyalty by satisfying customers
Keep your customers happy and returning because you equip them with everything needed to get the maximum out of your products and services.
A knowledge base is not just about troubleshooting, companies can use their knowledge base to show what is great about the product and the value it delivers including tips and hacks that benefit the customer’s Time To First Value (TTFV).
Gain an uplift in productivity
By diverting the more routine customer queries to a knowledge base, staff have more time to be profitable in other ways, like exploring cross sell and upsell opportunities, for example.
In this way, customer service departments can support better customer experience and success rather than simply fielding queries.
The end result is that customers receive better service all around.
Staff have a resource they can use too
A great customer knowledge base can be used to centralize your company’s institutional knowledge.
Pooling a common single source of truth means that marketers, sales professionals, and other allied functions maintain a consistent narrative when communicating with customers.
This informational conformity helps amplify unique selling points and areas of competitive advantage to resounding collaborative success.
On the note of success, the following 6 tips are
6 Best Customer Service Knowledge Base Tips for WordPress
Whilst our immediate focus for the sake of this article is the knowledge base tool.
It’s worth adding that knowledge bases don’t exist within a technological vacuum.
In fact, customer service technology is a team sport. Ideally, the overall winning solution requires a complimentary suite of service centric products that, together, raise the bar.
Therefore, tips for successfully implementing a customer knowledge base should also include references to other ROI-enhancing partner software programs.
So, that brings us onto our next question:
What’s the winning customer service software line-up?
Here’s a research based answer…
Amongst peers, the HubSpot study’s selection of customer service chiefs share the following consensus on their preferred tools for enabling their support teams:
- Help desk
- Knowledge base/FAQs
- Shared email inbox
- Live web chat
- Ticket management
So to keep up with contemporaries in the field of customer service, it’s advisable you equip your organization with the array of tools above.
But arguably, the crown wheel in the engine and most important piece of the puzzle of the customer service toolkit is the knowledge base.
There are 2 main reasons for this:
- Maximizing ticket deflection / self-service resolutions (saving on staff overhead)
- Improving customer satisfaction (increasing repeat custom and word of mouth)
No other tool recycles the value of existing operations process output.
A knowledge base is the no.1 go-tool technical driver for customer support ROI.
It’s the equivalent to owning a smallholding in an area with heavy rainfall and installing a rain harvesting system rather than plugging into the municipal water supply.
Why waste, when you can profit?
A no-brainer of technical investments in the effort to drive customer profitability.
The following are 6 tips (relating to quotes taken from HubSpot Annual State of Service Report) for installing your own WordPress customer service knowledge base:
“Service leaders want more time spent helping instead of searching.”
Even the very best knowledge base software is counted as nothing without the knowledge.
Therefore, the primary objective of knowledge base management is to hold and deliver suitable answers for user queries, whenever they arise.
So, then, the challenge you face becomes:
- identifying what knowledge you want to acquire, and then;
- putting that knowledge into the database.
This all sounds simple enough on face value, but multiply this mini-process by the ‘000s of questions your customer base might have around your offering – and we soon run into complexities.
So, as with any business process, setting up a successful knowledge base, profitably, depends on efficiency.
In other words, getting the right knowledge in and as quickly as possible.
Couple this with the fact that customer questions and trends change continually, and we begin to appreciate the ongoing need both to:
- uncover the ever increasing number of customer enquiries, and;
- maintain an up-to-date database of answers
So, where do we start in tackling this?
The clue to satisfying both points above rests with your customer service team.
By definition, they’re the place that customers go to get help using the product or service. As such, their finger is continually on the pulse of what is relevant to customers.
Plus, they are also responsible for communicating customer resolutions.
In fact, you could say without adopting the use of a knowledge base, you are swamping your customer service agents with excessive levels of duplication.
It’s this day-to-day duplication of potential self-serviceable queries that prevents the effectiveness of customer service agents successfully resolving more challenging tickets.
So, your best chance at saving huge amounts of time wasted by customer service agents every day through duplication is tasking them with committing their knowledge into the knowledge base.
But the question is, couldn’t this be counter productive?
In other words, doesn’t placing yet more administrative duty on already stretched customer service agents defeat the object?
The quick answer is :
But the secret of a good knowledge base system is that it supports the capturing of customer service knowledge – without your agents doing anything differently (…or as little differently as possible).
Our knowledge base recommendation:
The Heroic Knowledge Base Plugin is the no.1 customer service solution for your WordPresss website.
- Managed entirely inside your WordPress admin panel
- Secure user access
- Delivers rich user insights
It’s a fully featured, WordPress-based solution that is purpose built to support your customer service team successfully produce and maintain a knowledge base – with minimal fuss.
Because the Heroic Knowledge Base sits inside your WordPress website – which just so happens to be the origin of all your customer queries – your agents don’t have to break stride.
Via a simple login, agents are able to tap into the user analytics and discover knowledge gaps.
Following this, agents are then seamlessly in the right place for committing a new knowledge base article to the repository.
In a word: convenient.
“Customer satisfaction (CSAT) remains the most important KPI for almost 75% of customer service leaders.”
There is a general consensus among customer service leaders in industry:
‘Customer satisfaction’ is king.
Therefore, a key feature of your chosen knowledge base solution should be to help you survey user sentiment and customer satisfaction.
Articles which encourage readers to to share feedback, whether detailed or abbreviated, provide valuable performance insight.
This way you’re always on point for what works (and what doesn’t) with self-service content.
This functionality is key to staying ahead of the customer centric curve.
Our knowledge base recommendation:
The Heroic Knowledge Base plugin has an integrated article voting system.
By a simple thumbs up or down interface, the software allows each reader to either upvote or downvote an article for helpfulness.
Also, a free-text field appears if the user elects to vote – giving them the opportunity to add detail and context to their submission.
A great way of adding dimension to your customer service perspective.
“…almost 50% [of customer service chiefs] are now also responsible for customer experience and ensuring customer success.”
Customer success and experience are traditionally account management roles. Performance for which has always been tethered to revenue.
Yet it seems in industry there is a current shift to lay CX and CS expectations on customer services also.
So, under the additional pressure of having to justify ROI, customer services heads of function are now looking to their tech solutions for extra advantage.
Most of all, their expectations are laid on the performance of a knowledge base.
Because a knowledge base offers users the ability to answer their questions, right away. This not only leads to satisfaction, but also time to first value (TTFV).
Once customers get up and running with early successes in using the product, they tend to stick around and commit to becoming invested users.
But key to this is their acquisition of product or service knowledge. And in particular, how efficiently they find it.
In the context of a knowledge base, the primary tool in knowledge acquisition is the search bar.
Our knowledge base recommendation:
With HeroThemes Knowledge Base, search is a cinch.
An in-built LIVE search bar gives users the immediacy of knowledge they desire and are used to from using leading search engines like Google.
The usefulness of this function is a fundamental assist in achieving optimal customer experience results.
A lack of prioritization: translating to inconsistency of customer care
Triaging is the cornerstone of effectively managing the throughput of any service.
Putting into order the cases that arise so that the most urgent matters are dealt with in priority.
This helps you allocate your staff resources to where they are most needed first making the biggest impact on performance immediately.
To triage well, your staff need sufficient training and experience to successfully spot the earliest signs of trouble and execute an assessment of need asap.
Sadly, in the case of mishap, the root cause is often the agent’s blindness to the customer’s needs – early on enough.
And what you need is ‘case review’ to sharpen the senses and bring to light missed opportunities.
However, waiting for mishaps to ‘hap’ – can be quite a costly method of learning.
Alternatively, user analytical data can bridge the gap of understanding and enlighten agents’ eyes to see root causes of problems – before they happen.
Now, frame this scenario in the context of a customer self-service website and we quickly appreciate the ROI saving potential of seeing the signs before a mishap occurs.
Remember every failed self-service effort results in a tangible overhead cost of agent interaction.
Therefore, knowledge analytics is crucial to getting good returns on your investment.
Our knowledge base recommendation:
The Heroic Knowledge Base plugin for WordPress has a comprehensive, yet simple and easy to use analytics engine.
The engine churns over user data relating to search effectiveness continually, giving you a real-time estimate of your rate of success in delivering satisfactory search results on demand.
With a raw number of failed searches within a selected retrospective time period, you can literally see where the gaps are in your knowledge base content.
And more importantly, you ought to prioritize authoring efforts to help deflect tickets.
Too many tools: often adding more complexity than value
In the digital world, there is such a thing as subscription fatigue.
It’s a description of what happens when you sign up for too many services or tools.
As a user, rather than being uplifted – you rather become bogged down by a case of ‘too many tools’.
What was meant to be a help, has eventually become a hindrance.
Such a case calls for streamlining. Pruning back the unfruitful parts and providing more room for the fruitful boughs to do what they are showing promise to do.
But is there a way of avoiding the inefficiency of subscription fatigue by making the right choice the first time around (avoiding the waste of making errors)?
The advice here is to subscribe to a suite of products.
Suites offer continuity of workflow and a level of operational integration that smooth out all kinks and bottlenecks.
Plus, they operate within the same design framework making transition from one program to another seamless.
The advantage is that you feel as if you’re using one single system.
Happy days. Say “goodbye” to subscription fatigue.
But is a single suite solution really feasible for customers service functions requiring:
- Knowledge base
- Shared inbox
- WordPress compatibility
- FAQs etc?
The answer is: yes.
The long answer is…
Our knowledge base recommendation:
Trusted by some of the most recognisable businesses and educational / not-for-profit brand names, the HeroThemes Customer Support Suite of WordPress plugins has a complete array.
Including knowledge base, shared inbox and FAQ this suite presents the most impactful self-service solution for WordPress website owners.
Better still, not only does the suite work well together but the front end presentation is also next level.
With simple yet effective UI customisation controls and configuration settings this suite is the ideal set-up for bringing together your very best in support efforts and your customer audiences.
Nearly half of all service agents already struggle to manage difficult conversations, and yet they’re increasingly expected to support new cross sell and upsell goals…
Revisiting our first quote in this article, we remember that there is mounting pressure for customer service functions to justify their performance as demonstrably contributing to revenue growth.
However, the reality on the ground is that agents are already under equipped for satisfying complaints. Plus, cross-selling and up-selling sits outside of the scope and perhaps immediate skill-set of most agents.
In short, there is a tangible need to boost the ability of customer services agents beyond handling middle of the road user enquiries to making real commercial impact.
This comes with training.
But are we asking too much of a customer service software suite by expecting a training platform as well?
Not with our recommendation…
Our knowledge base recommendation:
The HeroThemes Customer Support Suite is the ideal software solution for enabling your customer services team to perform better.
Just consider these 3 scenarios:
Difficult phone conversations are indeed a fearful situation for many uninitiated customer service agents. But as they say practice makes perfect.
And none more perfecting activity for agents to sharpen up on their sword-play than some close-quarters, fast and furious objection handling drills.
These are the kind of role play situations that get agents comfortable with dowsing hot-tempered encounters with cold water.
Essential fire fighting training for customer facing personnel.
But the critical apparatus for objection handling training is a stash of ‘Frequently Asked Questions (+ Answers)’.
This kind of prep gives the agents a rehearsed response to offer up as soon as objections arise from the customer.
Here is our recommendation for facilitating your customer service objection handling:
Heroic FAQs are a great training tool for organizing your customer service objection handling snippets.
Each FAQ container acts as a bucket into which you can pour responses, combining scripts flexibly in order to furnish your agents with the best possible chances of winning hearts and minds.
Call recording is now a common technique in raising the customer service bar amongst agents.
Almost every business these days that routinely use the phone as a main avenue of inbound customer communication declare a disclaimer at the outset informing callers their calls will be recorded.
Ever wondered what really happens to these recordings?
Well, in the most part they are automatically archived in a smart VOIP phone system much like 4Com’s highly publicized HiHi call management software, for example.
On the other hand, calls which present training and development opportunities are often flagged
by management and kept in a queue.
At appointed times, such calls are recalled and prepared for airing during a training session with agents and management.
Within such a session, each recording is closely examined and evaluated for effectiveness.
Aside from scoring the agent’s performance, points for improvement are also noted as future training criteria.
For such a process a knowledge base is an ideal tool.
Here’s our recommendation:
The Heroic Knowledge Base is the ideal software organizer for storing and arraying your phone recordings for training review.
Naturally using the in-built WordPress category and tagging system it makes things so simple when laying out the material for ease of navigation.
Couple this with a highly-efficient LIVE search bar, you have everything needed at your fingertips to coach your agents in improving their customer handling techniques.
A massive timesaver within the customer services function is having a handful of canned email responses to the ready.
These are the equivalent to the famous words often quote during BluePeter words “..and here’s one I prepared earlier”.
Ready-made as a perfect pitch for instantly knocking back a standard customer question or query.
In tennis, it’s returning serve.
In football (soccer), it’s tiki-taka.
In this context of customer service, it’s always having a handy response in your pocket that buys your team crucial time and immediately deals out customer satisfaction without delay.
Our recommendation is:
The Heroic Inbox is the ultimate WordPress solution for powering up your shared inbox with A-Z features and integrating it neatly into your WordPress website.
Saved replies are a great way of templating ideal responses to common questions.
Plus, auto responses help massively to take the strain off your agents and give your CS department with greater responsiveness lifting customer satisfaction levels across the board.
So, there you have it – 6 tips for practically putting your knowledge base to the task of adding significant ROI to the bottom line of your business.
And for lifting your customer service performance above the line of doubt.
These recommended uses for your knowledge base are tailor made to get you results.
Consider them, establish your plan and put them into action.
Then, let us know how things go.
Leave a comment below.