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How Does Your Knowledge Base’s Power Measure Up?

They say knowledge is power. With power comes great responsibility, according to Spiderman's uncle, and your Knowledge Base is no different. It has huge potential to create value for your customers and your organization, if you manage the responsibility well. Of course, that is where things get tricky-how do you know if you are managing your KB well and using its powers for good and not ill?

Let's take a look at where you can and should focus in determining you knowledge base's performance.

Your Knowledge Base is Tier 0

It is easy to overlook the Knowledge Base as a key component to helping reduce costs and improve experience when there are other new, exciting components such as chatbots and AI are emerging.   

Therefore, I always impress upon my customers early on that Knowledge Base is one of the most important things to get right. Why? Your Knowledge Base is effectively your "Tier 0" area for supporting and empowering your customers. Your Knowledge Base enables your customers get answers to their questions, when and where (syndicated widgets) they need it.

If you look at your Knowledge Base as a member of your Support team, how many service requests is it resolving and deflecting every day? How does that compare to the average number of service requests your agents are closing every day? Your Knowledge Base is, or should be, your superhero agent who frees up your Tier 1, 2 and 3 agents for more complex inquiries!

In short, your Knowledge Base should be high priority and area of strategic investment. It isn't just about having a knowledge base and sitting back. It is about getting customers to self-serve, agents to offer answers in their responses and contribute their expertise back into the Knowledge Base, and agents updated through knowledge. As you can imagine, this can be quite a culture change.

The Dilemma of Measuring Knowledge Base Success

In consulting engagements, I'm often asked what a successful Knowledge Base looks like. The questions range from, "What sort of reduction in emails might we see?" or "What kind of deflection can we expect to see?" or "How do we resource our knowledge base? How do we justify resourcing for our knowledge base?" There aren't straight forward answers to these questions.

Why are these questions hard to answer? Every Knowledge Base is unique-the number of answers, the quality of answers, whether you use knowledge syndication or not, whether you promote answer usage in incidents, chats or standard text, customizations...the list goes on!  Usage is also very different from a customer-facing, internal-only or HR Knowledge Base. Just a few examples:

  • HR is very transaction-based, so knowledge only goes so far as employees will likely need to submit a request. For example, if an employee wants to raise a grievance, then knowledge may help to understand the process, but ultimately, s/he needs to submit a service request to start the process off, so there is less chance to get people to self-serve.
  • Internal knowledge will have far fewer, if any, incidents created, so you would expect the self-serve rates would be high. But figures, such as answer hits, can vary. Some organizations might have low viewing stats since the staff churn is low and agents are knowledgeable.  Organizations with high agent churn may find the statistics are far higher since there are far more 'green' agents who need to view knowledge to solve requests.
  • Customer-facing knowledge is less likely to be transactional, so there is better chance of achieving high self-serve rates.  However, some organizations may require the customer to raise an incident in certain scenarios, which inevitably impacts the self-serve rates.

It also depends on the website design too. How easy is it to search or view your Knowledge Base?  Do customers have to login to search your Knowledge Base? Knowledge can be consumed in many ways, and your metrics are going to vary accordingly. I would guess two Knowledge Bases from two organizations in the same industry might have very different statistics.

Where Should You Start?

I recommend setting a benchmark for your own Knowledge Base. Focus on improving your own figures, rather than trying to look at what others are doing or chasing industry benchmarks.

Take a snapshot of various reports, and use them as a benchmark and look at trying to improve performance on those metrics. There are some useful out-of-the-box Knowledge Foundation reports that give a good assessment of your Knowledge Base's performance:

  • Answers viewed by Answer (or by Category or by Product)
  • Answer Maintenance
  • Keyword Search
  • Site Effectiveness

Keep measuring against the same metrics over periods of time; look at the behaviours they reveal and then improve where you can. Use the reports as a guide, so you get a picture as to what is going on, but remember no one report is the be-all and end-all.   

You can go deeper and leverage the framework and reports from the 'Deriving Business Intelligence through Service Cloud Value Analytics' set of report recipes in the Analytics Cookbook.

Check out some great articles (Knowledge Base answers, in fact!) including, "Tips and Best Practices for Maintaining Answers" and "Best Practices for Setting up Knowledge Base of Answers."

In summary, your Knowledge Base is uniquely yours. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.  Imagine what Spiderman would have missed out on if he spent all his time trying to be the Hulk!

I'd love to hear how you have approached this challenge of analysing your Knowledge Base performance. What is a metric that you have focused on and positively influenced?

Join the discussion

Comments ( 28 )
  • eleep Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Simon, thank so much for contributing this guest blog post! We appreciate you taking
    the time to share what you've seen and learned over years of consulting and share
    it with the broader community!

    For folks attending Modern Customer Experience 2018, there is a three hour pre-conference
    workshop starting at 9:30am on Tuesday, April 10th called "Knowledge Benchmarking
    and Health Check" that you might be interested in. We'd strongly recommend taking
    the Oracle Knowledge Benchmarking Assessment prior to MCX, so you gain personalized
    insight into your knowledge program's health, effectiveness and potential to improve
    on things ranging from reducing repeat calls, increasing call avoidance, improving
    efficiency, reducing agent training time, and increasing employee/agent retention.

    To take the Oracle Knowledge Benchmarking Assessment, in preparation for this workshop
    email david.stanley-jones@oracle.com.

    Thanks!

    Erica, Oracle Service Cloud

  • Ammar Aldaffaie Thursday, March 15, 2018

    Our knowledge articles are a big part of our customer portal and it is very important
    to provide the information that our customers need.

    We are always on the look for new ways to improve it and to make it better, we have
    a dedicated team to manage and update our knowledge and this will be great help and
    I will sure share that with them.

    Thank you so much Simon!

  • Jess Campbell Thursday, March 15, 2018

    Amen to Knowledge being Tier 0. As a customer, I always search for knowledge or documentation.
    As someone who administers OSvC, I want this to be as easy as possible for my customers
    to use!

  • Ajay John Monday, March 19, 2018

    The dilemma of measuring KB is always going to be a struggle. It's either going to
    be viewed as customers/agents being able to find the information easily or that they
    have a hard time finding the information they need.

    One of my new fav reports are Escalations per answer which gives me specific details
    as to what articles customers struggle the most and immediately contact us.

  • Lauren Monday, March 19, 2018

    You've hit the nail on the head with regard to how much we want to strategize and
    compare data with other OSvC users, but each audience, implementation, and individual
    use cases are very different making it difficult to compare data. I appreciate the
    post.

  • Heiko Mock Friday, March 23, 2018

    You exactly hit the point. Knowledge is a very important key to success, but not always
    easy to find and build.

  • Erik Henley Monday, March 26, 2018

    Thanks for the tips on using the knowledge base. We continually try to update and
    improve content on our site to allow for added self service. We are updating our
    site to improve upon what answers are provided using those answers most view based
    on keyword searches to improve in this area.

  • Audrea Serven Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    Great post! Look forward to discussing this with colleagues.

  • Ivan Abaitey Wednesday, March 28, 2018

    I am working on improving KB articles. It is a weak area in our setup. We need to
    do it in 4 languages but I have welcomed the challenge. Thanks for the post and I
    now have an idea on what to put on my presentation.

  • Mustafa Zubaidi Wednesday, March 28, 2018

    Very nice post, thank you!

  • Richard Keevil Thursday, March 29, 2018

    We regard our customer facing KB as our "bread and butter" everything else is just
    sparkles. We invest most of our time keeping it up to date and trumps anything else
    on our radar.

    We take a reactive stance to housekeeping and only review an Answer should it receive
    a poor Rating (1 or 2 of a 5 star system), or as soon as it reaches 1000 hits. When
    it does we check its accuracy, relevance, links, spelling & relationships.

    Because of this it deflects 85%+ of support requests, leaving the rest to be divided
    between Calls, Emails, Chats & Social.

  • Edson Junior Thursday, March 29, 2018

    I liked the way you as put that KB is the tier 0. Like I heard one day "nobody wake
    up extremely excited to call to a contact center to make a question or fix an issue".laugh

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • Luis Melo Thursday, March 29, 2018

    Love the "Tier 0" and am absolutely 100% in agreement. Most questions/queries from
    customers are simple/straightforward and easy to resolve. KB is definitely the channel/way
    to handle those

  • Andy Marks Thursday, March 29, 2018

    Thanks for the information. This was a helpful post.

  • Tom Oates Friday, March 30, 2018

    Great article. I find comfort in knowing that other areas face the same problems
    as we do. I try to bolster support by letting our program experts (we call them information
    providers) know that no one comes to the website to see what we have to say...they
    all want information from the experts. We just amplify their voice to a larger audience.

  • Nicole Anderson Monday, April 2, 2018

    Great post, thank you for sharing!

  • Simon Kilgarriff Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    Thanks for all the positive comments. I'm really pleased this struck a chord with
    other people. It is great to hear your experiences too.

  • Michelle Hiland Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    I completely agree with the knowledge base being the first important step. We have
    recently updated our FAQ and help articles to address this as it is an on-going part
    of our product experience.

  • Simon Kilgarriff Friday, April 6, 2018
    Ivan Abaitey said:

    I am working on improving KB articles. It is a weak area in our setup. We need to
    do it in 4 languages but I have welcomed the challenge. Thanks for the post and I
    now have an idea on what to put on my presentation.

    View original

    Hi Ivan,

    You mention managing answers 4 languages. I'd love to hear a bit more about how you
    do that as it is something I'm sure loads of other people would like to know. Do
    you use Meta answers to group them together or do you have other methods?

    I've seen customers manage up to 30 languages using meta-answers and use some nifty
    answer import tools to import the translated/localised text back in to Service Cloud.

    Simon

  • jitu mani das Saturday, April 28, 2018

    Great info!!! We will try it. KB is really helpfull...

  • Mark Hensley Thursday, May 24, 2018

    We would like search to function better in knowledge foundation, but I guess as Tier
    0, keyword is the only means. By that I mean, we have attempted to utilize Exact
    Phrase, but it searches as if we were looking for any combination of all the words
    listed, which isn't really exact. So, we don't provide any search options beyond
    product. The End-User (which are all employees, by the way), has indicated they would
    like more refinement in searching, but as of yet, we have not found out how we can
    do this. nor has our third party Oracle preferred partner been able to help in this
    area.

  • Christos Sklavenitis Thursday, May 24, 2018

    One thing we've done is focus on a metric that isn't available outright in any OOTB
    reports that I know of, but that can quickly be calculated. It is the percentage of
    site visits that include at least one answer view.

    My reasoning is that we could have the greatest content imaginable, but it's not doing
    us any good if the people who are hitting our site aren't using it for whatever reason.
    When we first launched, we were at about 34%. Over the last quarter we're closer to
    48%.

  • Chuck Udzinski Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    Yes, we refer to that metric as the Knowledge Consumption percentage. Basically, as
    Christos stated, Answers Viewed/Hits. Christos is correct that this is not an OOTB
    report. However, I would direct everyone to the following post: http://communities.rightnow.com/posts/15d873427d . Here you will find another chapter to the Analytics Cookbook focusing on KB reports.
    The report mentioned by Christos is named: Knowledge Consumption by Interface.

    Lots of really interesting reports to help you determine the value of your KB content.

  • Matt Sumner Friday, June 22, 2018

    Thanks for your time on this topic. It's important that companies understand the importance
    of a concise KB for deflection.

  • Justin Thursday, July 19, 2018

    A good, proactively managed KB library defers calls/emails/chats as customers can
    help themselves. I know personally the first thing i do when i have a question is
    go search a companies KBs.

  • Dawn M. Smith Monday, July 30, 2018

    Enjoyed reading this and it's great to know that others see the same value in using
    knowledge that we do - thanks for sharing !

  • Trine Larsen (@trine.larsen) Thursday, December 19, 2019
    I love this post! So, of course, I have shared the link with our knowledgebase administrator :-)
  • Anuj Behl Wednesday, July 1, 2020
    Thanks for sharing. KB is indeed Tier 0 or simply the face of your CX.
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