Fix Your Knowledge Base organization and improve chat times

Written by:
Mike Brown
knowledge base
customer information

How We Organized Our Knowledge Base and Improved Chat Durations By 50%

Knowledge Base Software helps organize a company’s collective internal knowledge and information for sharing both internally with colleagues and coworkers, and externally with customers and prospects. A well organized Knowledge Base will make for both happy support agents and happy customers, because nobody enjoys wasting time looking for answers.  This blog is about how we cleaned up and organized our Rake Knowledge Base Software, adding structure and a readability to our articles, and how that simple (one week) project reduced agent chat durations for the following 12 months by almost half.

Having a single place to put all your knowledge sounds great, but if it is not organized and easy to read, the value is diminished. When we first started the company and began using the Rake Knowledge Base, we jumped in a little too quickly and did not give enough thought to the organization and structure of each document.  We found that due to our internal lack of structure and rules, our article creation process was not truly taking advantage of the convenient and integrated Knowledge Base solution we built.  

For example, over time our article content was getting duplicated, content was inconsistent in tone and voice, sometimes too wordy, and generally lacked a structure that allowed users to quickly skim the articles and choose the best one to share for a given situation. Over time the entire system became difficult to read, navigate, and maintain. Something had to change, and here’s how we did it.

This blog post is a great starting point to learn more about how to organize your Rake Knowledge Base System, the post will continue to be a great reference as you become an expert user. This post will occasionally be updated with new information.

About The Rake Knowledge Base System

The great news is Rake includes a fully integrated Knowledge Base System with every plan, even our free Rake plans. The Rake Knowledge Base is a curated and categorized collection of instructions, directions, and how-to articles authored by our Workspace Owners and Administrators. Those article authors can create and categorize articles in any way they dream up, the articles include a permalink (a hyperlink to give to a client during a chat or through an email so they can read the article on their own time). Links can be shared internally or externally with your customers. Access these articles in your Knowledge Base tab or in the Conversations tab using the full text search option.

See samples of our knowledge base articles here: Live Chat Widget and Rake Mobile App

When We Knew It Was Time To Get Our Team Knowledge Base Organized

Immediately after we released our earliest versions of our integrated Knowledge Base, we immediately began using the feature internally.  It was such a welcome relief to provide our team with instant access to articles written by our subject matter experts to answer our most common questions.  The luxury of being able to share the full, branded article with our clients made it an easy decision and we ran with it. 

Being a startup, and not really having a professional writer on-staff, we were just trying to do our best.  But looking back, we certainly ran into more than our fair share of some of the pitfalls and common mistakes you might find yourself in someday. And, because at the time we didn't really have a lot of written documentation, we approached using the Knowledge Base like more of a scratch-pad than a brand-building customer point of reference.  It was a bit of the wild-west, and everyone was doing their best to contribute in their own way, so much so that each author had their own styles, some articles were longer and full of detail, other articles were sparse and more to-the-point. Hardly any of them used images or videos, or links to our full documentation.   

But one case stuck out when an agent shared the wrong article, really wrong. It was an easy mistake and she was doing her best to help, but the result was that we lost a client over it, as the information was out of date and led to a very dissatisfied client. That’s when we knew we had to get our arms around things. 

How We Used Knowledge Base Management Tools To Get Organized, And Save Time

  • Create Article Style Guides and Article Templates
  • Manage Authors and Create an Approval Process
  • Categorize Effectively and Encourage Upvotes

Creating a Knowledge Base Style Guide and Knowledge Base Templates 

Knowledge Base Style Guide

While it may seem like overkill at first, having a set of rules and guidelines is a necessary and mandatory step. Here are the essential elements to include in your style guide:

  • How to write article titles
  • General guidelines regarding punctuation, sentence and paragraph length, and use of verbs
  • Rules for using technical jargon – if you provide or support software, create a glossary of terms. There should be only one term to describe each feature of your software to avoid confusion
  • How to write each type of article: step-by-step guides, “how to” posts, tutorials, etc.
  • Formatting details, such as whether writers can use bullet lists, or bold and italic formatting to underline specific information
  • Indications for how to add links and external sources
  • Rules for choosing the right images and/or videos for each article
  • A list of accepted abbreviations
  • Additional brand guidelines, remember, your clients and prospects will be reading these too.

Knowledge Base Article Templates

Templating our articles was the single most important step we made in organizing the chaos we had created.  After some experimentation, we found that a good template includes the following:

  • Properly Categorized
  • Brief but Descriptive Article Title 

(should not include the category name)

  • Sub-Title or brief summary (20 words or less)
  • Author Name and Avatar
  • Date Last Updated
  • Content
  • Brief Video Overview (less than 1 minute)
  • Get to the answer quickly, immediately, avoid story-telling
  • Break apart multi-step scenarios
  • Bullets or Numbered Steps
  • Images
  • Use them
  • Stick to consistently sized images (max 400px width)
  • Avoid zoomed images, life-size is best
  • Avoid excessive screen-grab arrows, highlights, or text overlays
  • Footer
  • Links to full documentation on the topic
  • Links to related or other top voted articles

Limited Authors and Approval Process

We found that having a lot of people contributing to articles led to potential for duplication. You can probably avoid this issue with a simple approval process that includes at least two proofreaders and approvers.

Remember, Rake Knowledge Base articles can be set to Draft mode until you are ready to publish them for all to see.

Define Categories and Encourage Voting

Categories

Here’s some tips for great Article Categorization while managing your Knowledge Base

  1. Keep your category names brief and to the point, shoot for a max of 3 words, 15 characters
  2. Avoid repetition of a Category in Article Titles and/or SubTitles.
  3. Use Familiar Product Terms such as major features or actions (e.g “Log In”, “Sending Messages”, etc.)
  4. Avoid verbs or action words in categories (e.g. “Create” or “How To”)

Voting and Suggestions

Rake Knowledge Base articles allow reader voting and user suggestions. 

Voting contributes to the placement of articles in search results and in ranking the top categories and top articles prior to a search. Create a culture of voting, including your agents and support team.  If an article is helpful, give it a thumbs up.  Not helpful, thumbs down but always include a suggestion.

Article Suggestions are quick and effective because they use Rake’s fully integrated task management tool to create a task for the article's author to follow-up and improve the article. When users are creating suggestions, be sure to encourage details in the task description, and attach images or other supporting evidence so there is less back-and-forth for the cleanup.

Your Action Plan to Create a Useful and Efficient Knowledge Base in Rake

The tools for creating an effective Knowledge Base for your team and clients benefit in your Rake software is right there at your fingertips.  Use these suggestions and watch your team’s productivity soar.  After implementing these changes, our support agents were able to reduce support chat duration times by nearly 50%. We hope you'll see similar results.

Here’s a brief summary of the steps we took:

  1. Take time to create a Style Guide for your company
  2. Prepare multiple templates for various types of articles
  3. Select your authors and create an article approval process
  4. Categorize effectively and avoid duplication of words in titles
  5. Get to the point
  6. Put a summary/overview video first, always
  7. Bullet or number multi-step flows
  8. Add links to more detailed or similar articles in footer
  9. Encourage voting and suggestions

The following includes tips about using your knowledge base in everyday messaging, we’ve included tips for beginners through frequent users.  Enjoy!

Accessing the Knowledge Base

Beginner Users

Everyone starts somewhere. This section will get you started with the most important information to get you and your team collaborating.

Knowledge Base tab - This tab organizes your articles by create date. Manage your articles here by creating, categorizing, archiving, drafting and publishing.

Create article - In the Knowledge Base tab create an article to be used for either internal or external purposes. We have basic tools to allow you to format your document.

Sharing an article - After an article has been created, a permalink is created for you to share with anyone. Send this link to another workspace user or share in a chat with your customer.

Frequent Users

If this is not your first time using a messaging platform. We’d like to show you some common tools and maybe introduce you to new ones along the way.

Access Knowledge base in Conversations tab - When chatting with a customer, you may need to share a knowledge base article through the chat. Rather than going to the knowledge base tab, you can open your workspace information and access Search Knowledge Base”. View published articles and copy the permalink to share.

Include video and images - Create knowledge base articles that include video and images. Knowledge is power so the more information you can include the better.

Draft Articles - After publishing an article, you may need to rework the article. Set the article to Draft to remove the article from the Conversations tab and Rake Search. Make your necessary changes to the article then.

Very Frequent Users

Create the workspace environment that fits your organization by using tools you come to expect in a messaging platform.

Sharing Knowledge base articles as quick messages - Create a quick message to include a knowledge base article.

Share knowledge base as a quick link - Add a permalink as a quick link to share.