Last week, Desk.com’s Katy Dormer walked us through why you want to give your customers an amazing self-service support site and the key ingredients to building one in 6 Steps to Build an Amazing Self-Service Support Site.
This week, we’re going to compare a few vendors selling software that will help you build a self-support site. Knowledge base software can help you implement the best practices we learned last week with as little custom development as possible.
So, first things first, what are we talking about here? Whether you call it a self-support site, a knowledge base, or a support portal, we’re talking about where customers who need help can go to try to solve their own problems before contacting customer support.
“A knowledge base is about offering as many resources to customers as possible so they can access the information they need at any time, thus enabling self-service,” TeamSupport VP of Marketing Laura Ballam told me. “It’s also about sharing internal knowledge among team members. The theme to both is increased efficiency – the less people have to search for answers or solutions that have already been found/solved, the better for everyone.”
Here are three great knowledge base software options to consider:
TeamSupport is a great little customer service software. It’s got over 120 reviews on Capterra and an average rating of 4.5/5 stars. To learn more, check out my interview with TeamSupport Co-Founder and CEO Robert C. Johnson from late last year.
TeamSupport is aimed at the business-to-business market, specifically companies who sell a technology or software product to other businesses. “We are very B2B focused and the majority of our customers are supporting other businesses,” Johnson told me. Features such as a robust customer database, which starts at the company level instead of the individual level, allow companies to get a much better understanding of the entire relationship with the client business.
The first thing to know about TeamSupport’s knowledge base is that you can set it up for both internal and external use. So you can use the same functionality to share information among agents and to share information with customers.
As Dormer told us last week, step three for building an amazing knowledge base is “Make it easy for customers to find the solutions they need.” Toward that end, your customers can search for help articles in TeamSupport’s support portal.
The TeamSupport knowledge base supports articles, which contain images, links, and screen recordings. Agents can insert these knowledge bases into tickets for quick responses.
If you see that a ticket is a recurring issue, it’s easy to mark it as an article to have it automatically added to your knowledge base.
Agents can also use the internal knowledge base to create custom categories such as canned responses, knowledge sharing, lessons learned, and policies and procedures.
You can also set up viewing permissions for knowledge base articles by putting some of them on your secure “Advanced Portal.”
I hadn’t heard the term “ticket deflection” before I talked to Ballam, but it sounds cool. As your customers create a ticket in your support portal, your TeamSupport knowledge base suggests articles based on the keywords they are typing.
It’s also cool that customers can filter knowledge base articles to only see articles related to the products the customer uses.
Part of TeamSupport’s knowledge management offering is a website that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users (aka a Wiki). That means agents can collaborate on editing knowledge articles, lessons learned, policies and procedures, live group documents, etc. Wikis are organized in a hierarchical fashion and contain images, links, and screen recordings. And the software tracks all changes and who made them. Wiki articles can be private to the creator, public, only available on the secure Advanced Portal, both portals, or you can give customers a direct link to display Wiki articles as a standalone page.
TeamSupport also offers robust reporting on how customers use your knowledge base. It’ll tell you which customers (by name) read which knowledge base articles and when. It’ll also tell you whether users used the ticket deflection suggestions.
So going with Novo means you’ll lose out on the other customer support features of TeamSupport, like ticket management, but you’ll gain a lot of features specific to your knowledge base.
Novo is built to the be the place you store your company policies and procedures, human resource forms and training guides, and frequently asked questions. But it can also be used as a customer support knowledge base.
Like with TeamSupport, Novo agents can set up viewing permissions for knowledge base articles. But Novo also lets you set viewing access by department, and even on an individual user basis.
It also lets you create and customize roles for your agents so you can define what your users can and cannot do. For example, you can set a user as an editor and force all new articles and changes to articles to get approval from the editor before going live. And if you want to archive all changes, you can set that up as well. You can also set deadlines for articles, along with dates when they will require review or be taken down.
Novo also allows you to create set or on-the-fly workflows for getting articles up with various completion/approval paths.
The Novo knowledge base supports articles containing images, links, and videos. Even better, you can attach files to articles in any format. If you attach an MS Office or PDF document and you’re an Enterprise Edition user, the attachment is Full Text searchable.
Going back to making it easy for customers to find the solutions they need, Novo’s search functionality includes all text, including titles, summaries, and keywords. Searchers can choose between a quick or advanced search, and Novo displays search results in descending order of relevancy.
There are lots of other features that you can learn about here, but those are the big ones. If you have a complicated product or a very large organization Novo is an extremely robust knowledge base software solution.
Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Desk.com after Dormer so generously shared her wisdom on building an awesome knowledge base.
But that’s not the only reason I want to include Desk.com. First, I want to mention Desk.com’s price. Whereas TeamSupport and Novo start out at $40 and $50 per month, respectively, Desk.com starts at $4 per month.
Like TeamSupport, Desk.com is a full-featured customer service software solution with knowledge base functionality. The knowledge articles you create with it can be used internally by agents as well on your customer-facing self-support website.
One other great thing about Desk.com? They walk the talk when it comes to a knowledge base. Dormer wrote that it’s really important that your content is crawlable so customers can find answers through a Google search. Well, I Googled “desk.com knowledge base examples” and got lots of helpful, up-to-date articles right away. For example, Creating Knowledge Articles, which was last updated Sep 25, 2015 04:46PM PDT.
There’s a Creating Articles video, if you prefer to learn that way. Which also answers whether the software offers knowledge bases that support video content.
You can associate each article with a particular product, which is helpful. And you can turn knowledge base articles into canned responses by hitting “Create a Macro.”
You can monitor which macros are getting used the most with Desk.com’s reporting features. Desk.com’s Label Reports let managers choose which articles to write based on which questions get asked the most. Desk.com tracks how many cases get tagged with specific labels. For each label, a manager can see what the volume is, what the average handle time is per label, and how many touches it takes to resolve a case.
Desk.com’s knowledge base also offers features beyond those you might expect. For example, you can embed Google Docs in your support center articles. Or use multilingual support to offer customers translated versions of your support center content in 53 different languages. You can set up an SSL support center. And you can use your own domain name for your account. Desk.com even offers multiple self-service support sites for multiple brands.
None of these are bad solutions. If you sell a technology or software product to other businesses, TeamSupport is your best bet. If you have a ton of internal documents and training materials you need to store, update, edit, and maintain, Novo is a great option. And if you are anyone else, really, Desk.com will do the trick.
But before you decide, check out our directories for customer service software and knowledge management software, where you can compare options, filter by feature, and learn more about the marketplace for both.