Customer Service Software

Why You Must Have a Customer Support Knowledge Base (And How to Build One)

Published by in Customer Service Software

Customer Support Knowledge Base

You need a customer support knowledge base.

Yes, you.

Give customers what they want, when they want it, or they’ll find someone who will.

Harrowing, right?

Luckily, a knowledge base is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to keep customers happy. Unlike every other channel, it’s nearly free for customers to use. It’s perfect for high-volume, simple interactions. It can avoid costly phone calls, and is up and active 24/7.

According to Loudhouse research commissioned by Zendesk of 7,000 consumers in seven countries, in the past six months, 27% have tried to resolve a query by using online self-service portals. Calling customer services comes in at 54%, emailing customer services at 48%, and going in-store 26%. It is important to resolve their own problems rather than rely on customer service representatives for more than half (53%) of respondents. The percentage is 60% amongst those between 18 and 34.

A 2015 Forrester survey shows customers of all ages increasingly starting with self-service channels for customer service. This year’s survey showed respondents using the FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone for the first time in the survey’s history. According to Impact Learning, 67% of consumers pre­fer self-service over talking with an agent.

Stud­ies show that self-service is a good idea to 75% of con­sumers. The vast majority, 91%, said they’d use an online knowl­edge base if it were easy to find, con­ve­nient to use and applic­a­ble to their needs.

In addition to helping customers, the keyword-rich content in a knowledge base gives your website more opportunities to rank in search engines for phrases relevant to your product or service.

Step One: Track and Gather Popular Queries

First, if you’re using help desk software, you may have built-in knowledge base functionality. Samanage, Freshdesk, Vivantio Pro, TeamSupport, and C2 ATOM all have knowledge base features. Here’s a full list of help desk software products with built-in knowledge base functionality.

But you’ll still have to build out the content. Help Scout suggests flagging often-asked questions for potential self-service articles. Another place to look for questions is analytics from your internal site search.

Any note-taking app will contain your frequently asked questions. But Help Scout suggests using Trello to create cards of frequently asked questions. Some help desk software will enable you to save, label, and analyze both open and closed tickets.

Step Two: Hire a Writer

You might be tempted to gather what your customer support agents have written and post it as an article.


The trick is to break down the instructions so far that anyone could use them without a lot of prior knowledge, without making articles frighteningly long. Articles should use no words beyond a 5th-grade vocabulary, and be completely devoid of jargon and buzzwords.

So, hire a writer. Heck, split test your articles. If they’re unclear or take too long to get the point you’ll waste your customers’ time, your time writing will be wasted, and you’ll end up having to answer a query the expensive way anyway. In other words, total failure.

A picture is worth a thousand words. So use screenshots liberally, yo.

Step Three: Get Organized

Making information as easy as possible to find is maybe as important as making it easy to ingest. Tag your articles with every conceivable way someone might describe an issue. Also consider allowing users to add extra tags.

Make your article titles as straightforwardly descriptive as possible.

Link related issues together on article pages.


Help Scout has some great examples of educational, motivational, and organized customer support knowledge bases.

Keeping It Fresh

There’s nothing worse than a article which clearly explains how one would have done something three years ago, when the system was completely different.

The struggle is real, y’all. You are constantly updating and improving your processes (right?) and it’s hard for articles to keep up. This is where allowing users to offer feedback on articles can be very helpful for flagging outdated content. Either way, best practice is to make sure updates don’t obviate related help materials.


There aren’t many ways to keep customers coming back which are also free for them to use. A customer support knowledge base saves you time and money on high-volume, simple questions, helping you avoid costly phone calls. Building one requires gathering the questions your customers ask most often, writing the instructions clearly, with helpful titles and plenty of screenshots.

Check out our full list of help desk software products with built-in knowledge base functionality. And let us know any tips for building a knowledge base that we missed in the comments!

Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.

About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a former Capterra analyst.


Pingback by Why Your Startup Needs an Awesome Knowledge Base – HelpDocs on

[…] 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. […]

Pingback by Tenant Portals Expected by Renters for Self Service on

[…] cited by Capterra revealed 75 percent of customers want to solve product or service issues on their own without […]

Comment on this article:

Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content
Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.