Effective Knowledge Base

Building an Effective Knowledge Base: A Simple and Reliable Approach

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Written by Everett Carnahan

In my early career, I transitioned from a defense contractor to a customer support agent at a burgeoning IT Service Management solution provider. As a newcomer to the industry, I felt out of my depth. However, through extensive studying and seeking guidance from colleagues, I gradually mastered the role and became one of the go-to analysts. Yet, a significant challenge we faced was the loss of valuable expertise when team members left.

This prompted the initiation of a knowledge base project.

The Benefits of Investing in a Knowledge Base:

While the advantages of having a knowledge base are apparent, such as speeding up issue resolution and maintaining employee productivity, there are less-obvious benefits worth considering. One such benefit is eliminating tribal knowledge, which refers to privately held information that can make an organization vulnerable. Additionally, an effective knowledge base improves the perception of your organisation and products, leading to higher customer satisfaction and retention. Moreover, it reduces IT support costs by enabling self-service options and Level 0 support, allowing analysts to close issues faster and increase productivity without the need for additional staff.

Getting Started with Setting Up a Knowledge Base:

Most modern service management solutions come with an integrated but empty knowledge base repository, ready for your input. While there are reputable knowledge base vendors available, their integration with your specific service management environment may be limited. Alternatively, SharePoint offers a knowledge template that serves as a good starting point. Consider augmenting your knowledge database with pre-packaged knowledge packs focused on various topics like Windows, Office 365, Adobe, and macOS. These ready-to-use knowledge packs can assist young IT support organisations in swiftly resolving issues and assisting customers. Established organisations can also leverage past support tickets to quickly populate their knowledge base. In cases where the organisation is new or a new solution has been released, engineering teams play a vital role in providing initial support knowledge.

Motivating Support Teams to Contribute:

The organisation I worked for employed a highly effective method to extract information from analysts’ minds: the carrot and stick approach. Support analysts were required to produce a set number of original knowledge articles each month, typically 5-10, based on call volume. Failing to meet the target impacted their annual review. To ensure high-quality articles, duplication was first reviewed, followed by technical evaluations from other team members. Lastly, articles underwent a final review before being made available to the target audience.

On the motivational front, articles were tracked for usage, and analysts were rewarded based on the number of successful issue resolutions attributed to their articles. A robust IT service management solution with an integrated knowledge base should support this level of reporting. At the end of each year, analysts with the highest usage received substantial rewards, valued at thousands of dollars. Campaigns were conducted throughout the year to remind and motivate teams, resulting in the creation of a sizable and invaluable repository of product-specific articles within a short span of time.

In conclusion, establishing a knowledge base requires concerted effort and constant reinforcement. By investing in a comprehensive knowledge base, organisations unlock the expertise of their support teams, streamline issue resolution, enhance customer satisfaction, and reduce support costs. Motivating teams through a combination of incentives and recognition leads to a flourishing knowledge base that becomes a valuable asset.

Embrace the power of knowledge bases and reap the rewards of a more efficient and knowledgeable support environment.

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