All too frequently, companies do not spend enough time thinking about what the aim of each knowledge base article is
A knowledge base article should serve to allow customers to help themselves when they have a question or do not understand how to achieve their goals with your product(s).
Writing effective knowledge base articles can provide real relief on the number of support requests your company is receiving. More often than not, if a customer can easily find and access the information they need, no support case will ever be required. However, if a customer cannot find the information they need within a few seconds, they will open a support request. And furthermore, the next time they need information, they’ll have a lack of confidence in being able to find it themselves, and will immediately open another support ticket.
See the problem this trend can cause?
By giving a little more attention to your knowledge base articles, you really can make a difference. Provide relief on your support organisation and keep customers happy and confident with the products and services they are getting from you.
So what is needed to create a good knowledge base article?
Make the title count
Customers need to be able to quickly identify what the knowledge base article is documenting. Make sure that your title enables them to do this.
Do not get over complicated with the content
If a document is difficult to read, it won’t get read. Keep your content as brief as you can whilst ensuring that you are covering all the details you need to in order to ensure your customers can resolve the issue at hand.
All too often images are overlooked but in our opinion, they really bring a knowledge base article together and help your customers to easily identify with the topic and the steps they need to follow.
If your article is describing the steps needed to achieve something, consider adding images with each of the steps so that the reader can ensure they are on the right screen or setting each step of the way. Quite often your customers are not of technical nature and so this can be extremely useful for them.
Always write short but descriptive excerpts
Search results displayed within WordPress more often than not will also display an excerpt of the text within a knowledge base article.
If you do not write an excerpt for your article, WordPress will make its own using a number of characters from the start of your document. Many times, this text is not sufficient for a reader to identify that it is the right article for their problem or question.
By writing better excerpts for your articles you can increase the chances of your customers finding the solution to what it is they are looking for. These excerpts will not only be used during searches on your website but also by search engines as well as when a post is shared – for example on Facebook or Twitter.
In our view, excerpts are just as important as the knowledge base articles themselves.
Think carefully about enabling or disabling comments
Customer conversations about your knowledge base articles can be an excellent way to gather feedback on your documentation as well as to get your readers engaged. However, they can also work against you as no matter who you are and what products or services you provide, there will always be those customers who you cannot fully satisfy and they will vent their frustrations in many ways. Having comments enabled for your articles may make customers feel that they can share their frustrations with other readers easily.
You need to carefully determine, for each article, whether or not you should enable or disable comments. Also think carefully about your comment settings. For example, allowing only registered users to comment may be a good option for you.
Gather customer feedback
There are alternative options available to you as a company or author to obtain customer feedback on your documentation.
Consider using a rating system within your articles that allows your customers to rate each individual document. This is a great way to determine if the majority of readers are struggling to follow the article or if it is proving valuable to them.
Keep documentation up to date
This may seem obvious but it can be very frustrating and confusing for your customers if your documentation is out of date.
Each time you make a change to your product or service, ensure that all related documentation is also update – before you release your update.