Knowledge Base Software

Real quick:

Think about all the knowledge your team possesses.

About everything your team members know about doing their jobs, serving your customers, and keeping your business on the up and up.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?

It’s also a lot to keep track of, too.

But, in order to actually use this knowledge to its fullest potential, your team needs to be able to harness it, and gain complete control over it.

Thankfully, there’s a solution:

Knowledge base software.

With the right knowledge base software in hand, your team’s ability to manage its organizational knowledge and put it to good use will increase exponentially. In fact, ZenDesk found that high-performing teams were three times more likely to use knowledge base software than the average competitor in their industry.

(This isn’t a coincidence, either. As we’ll get to, the use of knowledge base software is one of the key ways to maximize your team’s performance in a number of ways.)

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If you need a primer on what knowledge base software is, and why you should be using it, read on (or feel free to jump to the appropriate section).

What is Knowledge Base Software?

An organization’s knowledge base acts as a central hub of any and all knowledge possessed by the members of the team.

Knowledge base software allows teams to easily collect, organize, access, and communicate information to a specific audience. Knowledge bases are created for use by a company’s customers, internal team members, or sometimes both.

A few examples:

Valant Knowledge Base by Helpjuice

Because there are many different use cases for knowledge bases, no two tools are exactly the same. Still, the overall goal of all knowledge base software is to ensure the right people have access to the organizational knowledge they need, whenever they need it.

Knowledge Base Software vs. Other Knowledge Sources

Before we get too far in, we need to clarify that a knowledge base is not the same as an FAQ page, wiki, or help desk tool.

Let’s quickly discuss where the key differences lie.

Knowledge Base vs. FAQ Page

It’s not uncommon for the terms knowledge base and FAQ page to be thrown around interchangeably.

And, if you look at things from a high level, there definitely is an overlap between the functions of a KB and those of an FAQ page. Each serves to proactively deliver information and support surrounding commonly-encountered issues, and answers to frequently-asked questions.

But, there are a number of differences between the two, as well.

For one, a knowledge base can be used for both external and internal purposes while FAQs are typically created for external facing purposes in an effort to support the customer.

More to the point, FAQ pages are typically static in nature, providing quick, surface-level answers to common questions. In contrast, knowledge bases are dynamic, ever-evolving entities that provide an immersive learning experience for your audience.

The best way to say it is:

With a dedicated knowledge base tool, you can create an FAQ page and then some. Not only will you be able to deliver the surface-level info your customers need, but you’ll do so in a way that ensures they make the most out of their experiences with your brand.

Knowledge Base vs. Wiki

Many organizations use a “corporate wiki” to deliver information internally or to their customers.

Again, while there are some similarities between this approach and using a knowledge base, the differences are much more tangible.

For one thing, though wiki software allows for collaborative content creation, it lacks the many other operational features that knowledge base software is known for. It’s the difference between making due with a basic solution, and being able to ramp up your efforts with a more dedicated tool.

Wikis are also typically open to an entire organization for editing purposes. The problem with this is, it becomes way too easy for unnecessary and even incorrect changes to be made to your team’s knowledge documents, here.

(In contrast, you’ll typically have a dedicated knowledge management team that’s responsible for updating your knowledge base content.)

Along that same line, a wiki is typically seen as something to be updated in a less structured, more “free” manner. This, again, can cause misinformation to be spread, out-of-date information to be overlooked, and new information to slip through the cracks.

Knowledge bases, in contrast, are managed in a more structured, standardized way by your dedicated KM team. In turn, you’ll always know the information being delivered via your KB is accurate and up to date at all times.

Now, of course your team can implement a more systematic approach to managing your wiki — but you’ll still be lacking many of the critical features needed to really get your KM efforts off the ground.

To make that happen, a dedicated knowledge base is the way to go.

Knowledge Base vs. Help Desk

Both external knowledge bases and help desk ticketing software allow you to provide laser-focused support to your customers.

The difference:

Help desks facilitate direct engagement between your customers and your support staff, while knowledge bases provide a self-service option to your audience.

(The difference here is much more tangible than the previous sections, no?)

While your knowledge base allows you to proactively deliver information and support to your customers, your help desk software is for processing actual support tickets and inquiries.

As we’ll discuss throughout this article, the more comprehensive your knowledge base, the less your customers will need to rely on your help desk to get the support they need.

The Role of Knowledge Base Software in Knowledge Management

You’d be hard-pressed to find a discussion of knowledge base software that doesn’t mention its role in an organization’s knowledge management processes.

See, knowledge management refers to the systematic process of documenting, storing, communicating, and using organizational knowledge for a variety of purposes.

Sound familiar?

It should; it’s exactly what we just said knowledge base software is all about.

But, again:

Knowledge management is the process of enabling the flow of information to the intended audience, while knowledge base software is a tool used to supercharge these processes.

Correction:

Knowledge base tools are the essential part of a team’s knowledge management system.

Yes, there are many other tools involved in optimizing KM-related tasks and procedures. Still, knowledge base software is the most critical piece of the puzzle.

Without a knowledge base acting as a central hub for your organizational knowledge, your efforts to gain full control over this info will be spread way too thin.

But, with this go-to resource in place, you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build your overall knowledge management initiatives.

Who Should Use Knowledge Base Software?

The short, sweeping answer to this question is:

Any organization, of any size, operating in any industry can benefit from the use of knowledge base software.

As we said earlier, no two knowledge base tools are exactly the same. There are many KB tools available on the market today — each of which can prove valuable to a variety of organizations, depending on their circumstances.

For example:

  • Small startups can use knowledge base software to automate on-demand customer support
  • Growing small businesses can use knowledge bases to begin centralizing their team’s ever-growing organizational knowledge
  • Enterprise companies will rely on knowledge base software to allow their massive, widely spread-out team to share knowledge as well as transfer knowledge effectively and efficiently

We’ll revisit this a bit later on when we discuss the three key “types” of knowledge base software available, and which is most appropriate for specific organizations with specific needs.

For now, just know that, regardless of where your organization currently stands, your team will benefit from strategic adoption of knowledge base software into your overall tech stack.

Check out how some of Helpjuice’s customers use our knowledge base software to supercharge their operations.

The Key Benefits of Using Knowledge Base Software

While we’ve already touched on some of the benefits of using knowledge base software, it’s worth taking a closer look to see just what it can do for your customers and your team.

For Your Customers

Creating a knowledge base allows your team to deliver scalable support to your customers, in a couple of ways.

For one thing, an external knowledge base proactively delivers the information your customers need, whenever they need it. In other words, they won’t need to wait for your support staff to be available to solve their problems — they can just take care of it on their own.

Thanks to Helpjuice, we're seeing 40% more customers self-service themselves.

– Javier, Head of Customer Care Planning, Verizon Mobile

This self-service option empowers the customer, allowing them to take more control over their experience with your products and services. This enables them to achieve ever-higher goals — many of which they may not have even had when starting out with your brand.

And, because many of your customers will be better able to serve themselves, your support staff will be better able to help those who do need hands-on support. Showmojo, for example, improved its support response time by 300% due to cutting its support ticket numbers by 30%.

Knowledge base software helps you put structures in place to enhance your overall customer experience, period.

The more support your customers get, the more likely they are to succeed. In turn, they’ll be all the more likely to stick with your brand for the foreseeable future.

For Your Team

Your team will also benefit from creating both types of knowledge base, as well.

As noted above, a customer-facing knowledge base minimizes the need for your support staff to provide hands-on assistance, enabling the customer to solve common issues on their own. This, in turn, means more time and energy on-hand to spend on more complex support tickets and other processes.

Helpjuice has allowed a small team of three to support a company of 5,000 employees — during the COVID-19 process, no less. Overall, the team sees a 40% reduction of support requests...Our inquiries and requests in the group inbox has gone down by 15% since the transition to Helpjuice.

– Jenn Esqueda, Project Manager, Vacasa

An internal knowledge base can have a far-reaching impact on your team’s overall performance, as well.

With a centralized KB in place, your team will become more aligned in terms of the big picture and day-to-day going-on within the organization. All organizational knowledge is readily accessible to all members of your team — meaning everyone can easily stay on the same page at all times.

With everyone on the same page, it’ll become easier than ever for your team to move in the right direction. What’s more, you’ll stay on the same page as you move forward, with all incoming knowledge and information being synced throughout your team as it’s uploaded into your knowledge base.

Your internal knowledge base is also where you’ll hold all of your onboarding and training materials. Similar to the way a customer-facing KB empowers your audience, an internal one allows your team members to take control of their own professional development.

Finally, maintaining an internal knowledge base ensures your organizational knowledge remains intact, even as employees leave your organization. If you use a knowledge base for no other reason, the ability to maintain and retain your knowledge assets over time simply can’t be overlooked.

Types of Knowledge Base Software

Knowledge base providers typically take one of three approaches for delivering their software:

  • SaaS (software-as-a-service) model
  • Open-source software
  • Free or freemium tool

Let’s take a look at what each type has to offer — and which solution might best suit your team’s needs.

SaaS Knowledge Base Software

Many knowledge base software providers, such as Helpjuice, take the SaaS approach to serving their audience.

Basically, this means the customer pays a monthly subscription fee to the provider in exchange for access to the software. The provider also takes care of server maintenance and security, and offers various levels of service and support to its individual clients.

For teams looking for a comprehensive, user-friendly solution to their knowledge base needs, the SaaS option is the best bet.

With no hardware or software installation needed, teams can quickly create, manage, and access knowledge base content at any time, on any device. The software’s user-friendly interface — coupled with open access to customer support — ensures your team will get the most possible value out of their knowledge base over time.

SaaS knowledge base providers often offer tiered levels of service, meaning a low barrier of entry for small and growing businesses. The fixed cost-per-month, at any tier, is a small price to pay for access to the software and laser-focused service and support.

Regardless of the service tier, most SaaS knowledge base tools allow users to customize the interface in a variety of ways. Some providers will also add or change features upon request, delivering a truly personalized experience to each team they serve.

Going with the SaaS option will allow you to get your knowledge base up and running in no time while keeping costs and downtime to a minimum. If you need a knowledge base tool that will grow with your team, SaaS is the way to go.

Open Source Knowledge Base Software

Other knowledge base software providers take the open source approach, in which they give teams access to the code for the KB software — which the team can then tailor to their specific needs.

This means that the team will be responsible for maintaining the software, in addition to the servers on which their knowledge base will be hosted. That said, teams that go with an open source solution will need to have dedicated design and IT staff at the ready to ensure their knowledge base functions properly.

Unlike the SaaS option, open source software is usually offered free of charge by the developer. Again, the main trade-off here is that you’ll be responsible for pretty much every process related to your knowledge base software — with minimal support from the developer.

Overall, open source knowledge base software is the best option for teams that:

  1. Want to have complete control over their KB’s interface and features
  2. Have the capacity to maintain and improve the software over time

Remember, though:

Where you decide to take your open source software will be completely up to you.

Take a deeper dive into the SaaS vs. open source debate to figure out which path is best for your team.

Free/Freemium Knowledge Base Software

If your team has absolutely no experience using a knowledge base or you are using a CMS like WordPress which has free knowledge base themes or plugins, these free options may be a good place to start. Going this route, you’ll be able to get your team’s feet wet in a completely no-risk environment, allowing them to get acclimated with the basic features of modern knowledge base software.

But, your team will quickly find their hands tied once they get the hang of using the new software. Depending on the specific free tool being used, there may be restrictions on the features the team can use, the number of users the software supports, or the amount of customizations that can be done to the template.

So, check ‘em out to get a feel for what creating and using a knowledge base will be like. But, we’d advise against investing too much time into these free solutions, as you’ll soon be looking to migrate to a more robust, comprehensive knowledge base tool.

Must-Have Knowledge Base Software Features

While all knowledge base tools vary in specific ways in order to better serve their target audience, some features are near-universal amongst modern knowledge base software.

(In other words, if the KB software you’re considering doesn’t offer these features to some degree, you probably want to look elsewhere.)

User-Friendly Content Authoring and Formatting

Modern knowledge base software allows teams to easily create knowledge content both individually and as a team.

When creating or editing a knowledge base page, teams will have access to a variety of formatting options. Some tools, such as Helpjuice, include the ability to add and edit multimedia content directly within the content creation dashboard.

Many knowledge base tools allow teams to collaborate both in real-time and over time while creating knowledge content. This not only means the ability to work simultaneously on specific content, but also the ability to communicate directly within the document itself.

Article Comments by Helpjuice
In-document commenting and tagging consistently keeps team members in the loop.

Your KB software should also allow you to set authoring and formatting permissions for your team members as needed. This will ensure that your documented knowledge remains untouched and unchanged until an update is needed.

Similarly, KB tools will also allow you to restrict visibility of certain knowledge base content, keeping your team’s private information out of public view.

Access Level by Helpjuice
Access rules also ensure internal documents remain untouched until necessary.

The best knowledge bases available make it as easy as possible for teams to create and communicate the knowledge they possess. The easier it is for this to happen, the more productive your overall knowledge management efforts will be.

Robust Search and Navigation Capabilities

The best knowledge base tools make it incredibly easy for users to find the information they’re looking for.

With so much content to comb through, advanced search technology is vital.

By today’s standards, knowledge base software should come stock with Google-like search functionality.

As shown above, Helpjuice’s tool provides search suggestions to users in real-time, allowing them to quickly find the page with the exact information they’re looking for. These search suggestions also give users a quick preview of other knowledge base pages they may want to check out.

The ability to search within text-based files, PDFs, and even multimedia content is another feature to look for in a knowledge base tool. Minus this, you’ll need to manually optimize any knowledge base page that includes more than plaintext content.

It’s all about efficiency: The quicker you can find what you need within your knowledge base, the quicker you’ll be able to put that knowledge into action.

Find the knowledge base software that will help minimize downtime and lead to massive spikes in productivity.

Tailored Options for Customization and Brandability

Every organization will need to tweak their knowledge base tool of choice in some way or another to better suit their needs.

So, it’s critical to choose the knowledge base solution that allows your team to do so.

This applies on the backend as well as the front.

On the backend, many knowledge base tools provide customizable templates to help teams start creating knowledge content. Some offer drag-and-drop interfaces, while others allow for advanced page editing of a template’s code — while still others offer both.

Access Level by Helpjuice
Helpjuice’s customization options allow for maximum brandability of your knowledge base.

In some cases, knowledge base software providers will also tailor their tool’s backend to better serve their users. Whether this means designing new templates for them, or tweaking the interface in some way, this can potentially allow your team to get even more value out of the solution you choose.

These customizations all serve to provide a better experience to the knowledge base’s users. It also enables you to inject your branding into your customer-facing knowledge base, in turn allowing it to fit into their overall experience with your company.

Comprehensive Usage Reporting and Analytics

Assessing the way your team and/or your customers use your knowledge base can help you improve your business in a number of ways.

A few examples:

  • Knowing which content your customers frequently consume will tell you what they’re interested in learning about
  • Identifying pages your team members often visit will tell you where extra training and professional development may be needed
  • Understanding when, in their journey with your brand, your customers used your knowledge base will help you optimize their experience altogether

For this reason, modern knowledge base providers often provide powerful reporting and analytics features within their tools.

Access Level by Helpjuice
Helpjuice’s reporting dashboard delivers a ton of insight about your knowledge base’s performance.

Typically, these reports will include information regarding:

  • Visibility/deliverability of content
  • Usage time
  • Content performance and impact

In a “meta” way, this info allows you to make improvements to your actual knowledge base content — in turn making the tool an even more valuable asset to your organization.

Optimized Software Integrations

In order to function as the central hub of knowledge within an organization, your knowledge base tool must integrate seamlessly with the many other tools in your tech stack.

Helpjuice integrates directly with a number of solutions, such as:

  • Slack, for internal sharing of knowledge base content via direct message
  • Zendesk, allowing you to instantly push relevant knowledge base content into helpdesk tickets
  • Olark, for automatic delivery of knowledge base content to customers via chatbot

Our knowledge base also works with Zapier, allowing you to integrate our software with over 1,000 other tools and apps.

By connecting your knowledge base software with your various other tools, you’ll ensure the information you need will always be a click away — no matter what tool you’re using.

Choosing the Right Knowledge Base Software for Your Organization

With so many knowledge base solutions to choose from, the prospect of figuring out which is right for your team’s needs may feel a bit overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Really, you simply need to take stock of your team’s current situation, what you expect to be able to do with your knowledge base software of choice, and where you hope it all leads you.

Let’s take a closer look at what we mean here.

Consider Your Team’s Capabilities, Capacity, and Limitations

Simply put:

Your team needs to be able to use your knowledge base software of choice in order to get value from it.

As we talked about earlier, your team may not have the technical knowledge or operational capacity to create and maintain an in-house knowledge base. In such a case, you either won’t be able to get full value out of the solution you choose — or you simply won’t be able to use it at all.

Even when going the more user-friendly SaaS route, it’s important to choose the one that your team will be able to get the most out of.

On the one hand, choosing an all-too-basic solution may not help you supercharge your knowledge management efforts all that much; on the other, paying for features your team doesn’t yet have a need for is just a waste of money.

Speaking of money, your company’s finances should be a huge concern when choosing a knowledge base software.

In addition to the upfront fees you’ll be paying, you also need to factor in operational costs such as setup and ongoing maintenance — and whether or not your business can afford the solution in question.

While money is a concern, investing in a quality knowledge base solution that will help supercharge your operations is definitely worth it. So, while you certainly don’t want to overspend on a knowledge base tool, you also don’t want to choose a less-than-stellar solution just to save a buck.

To choose the knowledge base software that’s right for your team, you need to know where your team stands. Once you have an idea of what you can afford, and what your team is capable of, you’ll have a much clearer idea of which knowledge base tools you should be looking at.

Which Knowledge Base Features are Non-Negotiable for Your Team?

From a bird’s-eye view, most modern knowledge base tools may seem pretty similar in terms of the features they offer.

(As you’ll recall, we discussed the key features of a high-quality knowledge base solution earlier.)

But, upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the tools available differ in how they present these features, and how they’re to be used by your tema.

This is why it’s vital to assess your team’s specific needs when it comes to knowledge management. Also, think about what your team may not need from your software provider, as these unneeded features or services may lead to wasted expenses for your business.

For example, a non-tech savvy team will want to find a tool that’s easy to use — and a provider who makes it even easier. For these teams, a user-friendly interface, coupled with informative documentation and customer service will be necessary to spur their knowledge management capabilities.

On the other hand, a larger, more tech-savvy team may not need much hand-holding when building their knowledge base. Such teams will likely be more concerned with having advanced options for customizing their knowledge base, both on the front and the backend.

No matter the size of your knowledge management team, it’s crucial that the software you choose allows all members to create knowledge content. Don’t just think about the present, here; when choosing a knowledge base tool, look for the one that will allow your knowledge management team to grow over time.

While security should be a concern for all organizations, many companies may need to be a bit more strict, here. Especially for those using SaaS knowledge base software, you need to be certain that your provider guarantees the security of your data.

Finally, be sure that the knowledge base software you choose integrates with the other tools in your tech stack. Without these integrations, you simply won’t be able to centralize your organizational knowledge — which will suppress your overall knowledge management efforts altogether.

With a clear idea of the specific features you need from a knowledge base tool, the right solution will become just as clear.

What Does the Future Hold for Your Knowledge Management Initiatives?

If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re looking to invest in improving your knowledge management efforts across the board — and to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

That said, you’ll need to invest in the knowledge base software that not only caters to your current needs, but that will also enable your team’s efforts to grow over time.

There are two key things to think about, here.

First, look for tools that offer multiple tiers or variations of their service to customers with varying needs. Whether you need to add more users to your knowledge management team, or unlock more advanced features as your team’s KM abilities improve, look for the solution that will allow your team to grow when the time comes.

Secondly, consider the provider’s reputation for growth over time, as well. With technology and operational processes continuously evolving, it’s crucial that your knowledge base software provider consistently works to improve their tools, and the experience they provide your team.

If your knowledge base doesn’t allow your knowledge management team to grow — and doesn’t grow alongside them — it’s going to hold your team’s efforts back altogether. And, if it gets to a point where you need to migrate your entire knowledge library to a new tool, well...it’s going to take a lot of effort from your team that could have been avoided.

While you’ll likely want to find a knowledge base solution that allows your team to hit the ground running, you also want to know it’ll continue to prove useful to your team in the long run.

Why Choose Helpjuice as Your Knowledge Base Software Solution?

Alright, you caught us.

We just talked about the importance of finding “the right knowledge base for your organization”.

Now, we’re telling you to go with our solution, without knowing anything about your company’s circumstances.

Well...that’s because Helpjuice’s knowledge base software is designed to cater to businesses of all shapes and sizes.

We’ve helped:

Need more proof? Here’s what our customers have to say:

Launching Helpjuice we are expecting to engage the whole staff in a different learning process which is easier, fun and saves time. We are going to use Helpjuice platform to prepare new recruits for exams and the existing staff can better explore the area they work in.

-Tamar Khutulashvili, TBC Insurance

Managers are crediting more consistent work to the Helpjuice library. We have more library users than ever before – the audience sees the value of the library, and are drawn to it to solve their daily challenges. Users are also asking for more content to be added – speaking to the added value our staff sees in Helpjuice’s software.

-Richard Thompson, Sr Project Manager, Collins Community Credit Union

Helpjuice has revitalized the interest of our own support agents in using and promoting the company's help site. Our team members are constantly suggesting new content to create to better support our customers

-Marco Armineta, Director of Customer Experience, Valant

Our software — along with our dedicated support team — will help your team ramp up every aspect of your knowledge management initiatives. By taking a comprehensive, tech-powered approach to knowledge management, you’ll empower both your team and your customers to operate to their highest potential.

Are there other solutions out there that can help move your knowledge management efforts along?

Sure.

But, like we said earlier, most of these solutions are lacking in critical ways that will hold you back from creating a true knowledge management system within your organization.

Helpjuice’s software, on the other hand, doesn’t just allow you to create a centralized hub of your team’s organizational knowledge. More importantly, we’ll help you build the foundational piece of your knowledge management puzzle, altogether.

With our software, you get:

  • Collaborative Authoring and Formatting, streamlining the process of knowledge creation and documentation
  • Laser-Focused Search Features, enabling your team and/or your customers to quickly find the information they need
  • Unique Customization Options to create a truly tailored experience for your users
  • Powerful Integrations to automate and simplify your knowledge management tasks so your team can focus on “big picture” processes
  • In-Depth Reporting and Analytics to help your team make further improvements to your knowledge management processes

With the right knowledge base software in hand, your team will easily be able to get their knowledge management initiatives off the ground in no time.

Ready to get started? Schedule a demo with us today!

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