Knowledge base and customer base – they’re two different bases!
Sometimes you may encounter inaccurate use of both names, especially when “knowledge base” is defined as the latter, where customer information is collected. However, these two are different bases, with different content and for other purposes.
So what does a knowledge base contain, how it works, what is it used for, and how is it created? For a better explanation, I’ll play the role of a customer service department consultant.
We already know that the knowledge base is a part of the CRM system. Our service department, of which I became an employee, uses Salesforce CRM on a daily basis. More specifically, we use Salesforce Service Cloud, meaning that part of CRM is responsible for supporting service. You can read about Service Cloud and its functionalities in the article How to improve Customer Service work thanks to Salesforce Service Cloud? I’m going back to the knowledge base and my new duties in the new position.
In front of me, on my computer screen, there is a Service Cloud window. I’m in the so-called service console (1), in its natural view, that is, a view of a particular customer request. I see customer data, history of previous requests (360-degree view), and mainly – information about the current case described by the customer in an email. I’ve just read it (as it was automatically attached to the customer request view – well, 360-view is a 360-view 😉 ), and I can tell you I already know everything (or almost everything) about the request. There’s only one thing missing – I want to complete my knowledge to better help the customer resolve their issue. Luckily, it’s not a problem. The help is at hand, on the right side of the screen: here’s where the knowledge base is. A few clicks are enough for me to find what I need.
(1) General view – service console.
On the left – customer details, in the middle – case details, on the right – Knowledge Base
Keywords – how does the knowledge base work?
To put it simply, the knowledge base is a collection of articles. Sometimes it’s called the FAQ section because it also includes answers to the most frequently asked questions about the company’s offer, its products or services, and after-sales services. How to find a specific article? By using keywords – I chose the ones from the subject and the body of the customer’s email message and typed them in the search bar. Based on them, the system displayed the articles that best match the request’s content. This match can be automated and display potentially best articles referring to the received customer message.
I can search for articles directly from the base; I could also use a global search that goes through Salesforce resources.
After hovering over the article title (2), I can see its brief summary, the list of categories to which a specific article was assigned, publication date and its edit (update) history, other language versions. I can check statistics: how many displays a particular article has, how colleagues from my department rate its usefulness. Finally, I can familiarize myself with the content of selected texts (3) – I train myself and then answer the customer’s request.
(2) Knowledge base – view after hovering over the title of the article
(3) Knowledge base – article record
Knowledge base – for employees, but also customers
The internal use – educating consultants and supporting them in quick and more efficient ways of resolution requests is the first possibility of using the knowledge base. But not the only one because there’s an option of sharing it with the external users outside an organization. And there are two methods to do that.
The first is to send customers selected content as a part of the service. Let’s assume that in the above-mentioned situation, I explained to the customer by email on which stage their request is and how to resolve their issue. But I could more literally support myself with the knowledge base and, while answering the customer, rely on a specific article. I could paste the entire text or a piece to the email or send it as an attachment. I also have access to editing the article, just in case I have at hand any additional materials that could be useful for customers, such as videos, pictures, charts, and so on.
The second method (that companies often use) is publishing selected parts of the knowledge base on the website for those logged in and non-logged in, usually in the form of FAQ. Where to place such a base in the system – it’s up to us. For example, it could be placed on the Community platform. If we put the knowledge base on the Community for logged-in users, simultaneously we build another element of the 360-degree customer view (which I wrote about in the article Customer 360-degree view in Salesforce Service Cloud). By knowing who reads what, and what the reactions to specific content are, we better understand our customers and their needs. We can improve the content of the knowledge base and the company’s offer; give customers clear instructions and better products.
How is the knowledge base created?
We already know what the knowledge base consists of, how it works, what it is used for. There’s only one last question left: how is it created? From the technical perspective, the knowledge base component (understood as a template to build one) is provided with the Salesforce license. Creating and completing the base is the matter of assigning creator permissions to particular persons in the company. In practice, one or few people are responsible for that. Most often, it’s the system administrator who coordinates working on a knowledge base and cooperates with the content authors. From them, the knowledge base creator gets a package of articles with tips on how to place it in the base structure. The creator also updates the base and gives access to its content.
Is it worth creating the knowledge base? Well, is it worth breathing? 😊 Of course it is! If you, on the one hand, want to improve quality, and on the other – the comfort of your service team and increase customer satisfaction as well, it is worth it. And I have no doubt you care about those things.
And when you decide to build the knowledge base, there’s one condition: the whole action under the name “let’s build the knowledge base” does not end with a one-time prepared package of articles that will never again be updated. By definition, a knowledge base is not supposed to be a dead creation as it needs to be developed constantly. The users can inspire its growth. By evaluating the usefulness of particular articles, they can also suggest new ideas. However, this works both ways. To get inspiration, you need to give a reason for it. Information next to the article stating that the article was last updated 3 years ago does not encourage users to leave likes or use the base again. Yet, I believe my theoretical reflections do not relate to your current knowledge base or future one, and hopefully, it’s because of my clues.
- Salesforce CRM Consultant | Marketing Cloud Team Manager
Sales and business development specialist. He started his career in the hospitality industry, and then moved to IT (JAVA and Salesforce). He works with clients on the Polish and international markets. Nowadays, he is engaged in selling Salesforce to SMBs and corporations. He focuses on acquiring new clients, taking care of proper implementation of solutions, and developing cooperation based on customer success. He is a Salesforce Accredited Sales Professional.