Knowledge Management

What is a Knowledge Base?

A knowledge base is any system in which knowledge is stored, maintained, and accessed. Your company’s knowledge base will contain information that can help whoever is searching find answers to questions and resources to better understand a topic. There are two types of knowledge bases: external and internal knowledge bases.
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Knowledge Management

What is a Knowledge Base?

A knowledge base is any system in which knowledge is stored, maintained, and accessed. Your company’s knowledge base will contain information that can help whoever is searching find answers to questions and resources to better understand a topic. There are two types of knowledge bases: external and internal knowledge bases.
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An external knowledge base stores information your customers and clients can use, such as guides, manuals, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers, as well as other customer service resources related to your products and/or services. Often, an external knowledge base also contains information related to troubleshooting, ordering, billing, shipping, returning, requesting help, recalls, company history, and your store or office locations. 

An internal knowledge base stores your company’s private or confidential information and is accessible only by employees. Internal knowledge bases help employees easily find information related to benefits and compensation, onboarding, employee development, technical help, organizational structures, market research, policies, brand guidelines and protocols.

Benefits of knowledge bases

Software that is intended to be used as a knowledge base has specific benefits over solutions that can be used many other ways, like long documents, PDFs, internal wikis, or spreadsheets. 

  • Easy search – Purpose-built knowledge base software makes it easier to surface specific knowledge when needed
  • Easy upkeep – Knowledge bases allow user to update individual items as necessary (instead of having to update and republish an entire document)
  • Roles and permissions – Knowledge bases allow for granular access and editing. While some other solutions (like Google Docs or Sheets) can also be limited this way, the settings often require more clicks and can easily be forgotten. 
  • Designed to be used in-workflow — A knowledge base solution is designed to be used to provide answers where and when you need them, while other solutions require major context-switching and searching.
  • Trust – Documents and spreadsheets can easily become outdated, and version control can lead to duplication and confusion. Knowledge bases make it clear whether what is found can be trusted. 

Challenges of knowledge bases

All that being said, it can be tough to justify adding a knowledge base solution on top of existing workarounds. Here are some of the ways non-purpose built solutions have the advantage:

  • Cost – If you’re already invested in a tech stack that provides content management solutions, it may be tough to justify investing in another solution when what you have “works well enough.” Look for a KB solution that offers a significant efficiency over using a workaround
  • Buy-in — A knowledge base solution is, at the end of the day, another tool that needs to be adopted. If you already have a complex tech stack, this may make adoption more difficult. Look for a KB solution that integrates with many of your existing tools to make adoption easy.

What is internal knowledge base software?

Internal knowledge base software supports your employees by giving them a one-stop-shop where they can search for the resources they need to best do their jobs. An effective internal knowledge base reduces employee frustration and promotes productivity by reducing the need for repetitive searches, integrating with employee workflows, encouraging contribution and collaboration, and ensuring content relevance and accuracy.

Some additional examples of software that could be considered internal knowledge base software include documents and spreadsheets, content management systems (CMSs), web portals, FAQs, or wikis. 

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How to know if you need an internal knowledge base 

If your sales team wants to improve customer satisfaction and their own productivity, being able to answer customer questions-on-the-fly can help save time and increase their confidence in the information they’re sharing.  Maintaining an internal knowledge base with this information can serve this purpose and help companies provide employees with accurate information on-demand. 

The same holds true for a manager who wants to efficiently onboard and train new employees, or for a member of your team who needs information about their benefits, compensation or company policies. To eliminate having them spend part of their day on hold with the human resources department to get answers to those questions, an internal knowledge base can help increase productivity by providing them with the answers they need and an efficient way to get them. The less time employees have to spend seeking out answers, the more time they can devote to building relationships with customers and bringing value to your company. 

If you see opportunities where your organization can save time, enhance productivity, and create greater cohesion and accuracy of the knowledge disseminated to employees, your company can benefit from internal knowledge base software.

Knowledge base software allows you to set up your internal knowledge base quickly, without having to build your system from scratch. Knowledge base software can offer multiple functions, including chat, tracking, interactivity and more.

Ways to use internal knowledge base software

Maintaining a well-organized, easily searchable and accessible internal knowledge base means your employees can find answers quickly, without re-asking common questions. 

Example:

An internal knowledge base is incredibly versatile in the way it can be used. Some ways to make the most of your internal knowledge base software include populating it with information, such as:

  • Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about everything from employee benefits and onboarding protocols to brand guidelines and customer communications
  • Company policies and handbooks
  • Best practices and guides for sales strategies, handling customer issues and dealing with coworker conflicts
  • Organizational structures and important internal contact information
  • Recruitment, interviewing and employee assessment information for managers

Internal knowledge base software enables your company to focus your communications on new and critical information. Time spent introducing new employees to company policies and procedures, as well as training those taking on new roles, could be significantly reduced. Easier and faster access to information means that your customers will be happier with your sales team’s rapid response to their questions and concerns, and you will know the collective expertise of your employees is stored in a safe, searchable location for future use.

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