Jake Peters

Why Your Startup Needs an Awesome Knowledge Base

Jake Peters on

If you run a startup, I’m guessing you have a public knowledge base. Maybe you call it a support site, or self-service helpdesk, but some way of letting your customers help themselves.

But do you remember why you have it? And do you care?

If you don’t, you’re missing out. A great knowledge base is a vital part of your customer support arsenal.

Creating (and maintaining) a knowledge base empowers your awesome customers to help themselves, while simultaneously reducing your support load. With the right tools you can get valuable insights into where your users are struggling in your product, and where you need to improve. And to top it all off you can get some marketing benefit too.

So yeah. Knowledge bases are kinda a big deal.

Lower support volume

A great knowledge base can dramatically reduce your support volume.

Anyone that’s scaled a startup before can tell you: it’s damn hard, and if you’re successful, there’s a ton of support.

People are pretty tough to scale, and outsourcing your customer support’s a big no-no. Need an example? Just check out Mailchimp. Back in 2012 they had 2,000,000 (yep, 2 million) customers, adding 6,000 a day. Knowledge bases scale effortlessly from tens to millions of users.

I know first hand that even supporting dozens of users is hard. We all do, right? But it’s also expensive. To get one great team member focusing on customer support you’ll probably end up paying $6k+ a month. And that’s per person.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Buffer’s Open Salaries—they spend a ton of money finding the most talented people to take care of their users.

Even the best knowledge base will set you back an order of magnitude less than that. And once the collective knowledge from your team is written down, it’s there forever. Even if your resident expert on that topic moves on.

Better customer experience

Lower support volume’s great and all, but you love your customers, right? You want them to have the very best experience every time. After all, poor customer service costs businesses in the US 41 billion dollars a year, and you don’t wanna be part of the statistic.

Well, whilst you’ve probably noticed customers are becoming more vocal online when something goes wrong, it turns out they actually prefer self-service options. For your users, being able to resolve a problem without contacting support is empowering. Not only is that cheaper for you, but faster and more efficient for all.

Marketing

If any of y’all know me, you’ll know my background’s in content marketing. The best content’s informative, helpful and fun to read, sure, but it’s also great for your site’s SEO and domain authority.

That’s usually all relegated to blog posts and email lists. But why not bring great copy to knowledge bases?

Think about it. Your KB articles are all problem/solution based. You’re already writing about the kinda stuff people are searching for. That’s an SEO’s dream.

Imagine if your knowledge base was full of amazing, great quality articles written by copywriters. Now optimize it for search. And link to it everywhere. Pretty neat idea, huh?

Best of all, if your knowledge base is available at a custom domain of your site (e.g. ours is at support.helpdocs.io) you’ll see a positive SEO benefit for your whole site. That means higher rankings all round.

Measurable data

By now I’m sure you’re totally sold on the idea of upgrading your knowledge base and giving your users a better experience. But what then?

One of the coolest parts of all is the data. A great knowledge base will give you measurable, actionable, data about:

  • What users are searching for
  • How popular your articles are
  • Whether your articles are hitting the mark and resolving customer queries

The interesting thing, though, is you can use all that data to improve your docs, but also to improve your product.

A huge amount of people reading the same doc each month? Maybe you have a UI problem in your app.

Loads of searches for an article that doesn’t exist? Perhaps you should write one.

People trying to find out about a feature you don’t have yet? You could add it to your roadmap.

Conclusion

Just because your knowledge base sucks right now, doesn’t mean it has to always suck. With the right tools (hint: try ours) you can improve your customer experience, reduce the load on your support staff, rocket your whole site up the search rankings, and improve your product for everyone.

Something I should add? You can catch me on Twitter




Jake Peters Cambridge, UK
Jake runs Product at HelpDocs. When he's not obsessing over customer feedback or hacking code, you'll find him in the nearest artisan coffee shop doing, err, probably more customer support.