What Is A Knowledge Base? FAQ & Best Practices (2024)

Josh Spilker
December 13, 2023

What is a Knowledge Base? 

A knowledge base is a centralized and organized collection of information that can be accessed by employees, customers, or the general public.

Typical content in a knowledge base includes: 

  • Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  • Troubleshooting guides
  • How-to guides
  • Company policies
  • Processes and procedures 
  • …And other useful information. 

A knowledge base can be used for a lot of different use cases, from providing customer support to training employees across every type of industry. It can also be used to store important company info such as company policies, best practices, and procedures. 

By having a centralized internal knowledge base for all this information, everyone in the organization can access it and stay informed. 

“We didn’t have any way to document or process or remember, as we were learning and growing,” says Animalz People Ops Associate Paige Picard about their time before using a knowledge base. “We were having to constantly invent everything about the company, and without any way to synthesize information, it was really hard to teach later employees.”

What are the key UI features of knowledge base software? 

Most knowledge bases are designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, with easy-to-navigate menus and search functions. This makes it easy for users to find the information they need quickly and efficiently. Some knowledge bases also offer interactive features such as chatbots, which can provide immediate answers to common questions.

What’s the difference between an external and internal knowledge base? 

An external knowledge base is a database or repository of information that is accessible to users outside of an organization. It is designed to provide customers, partners, or the general public with information about a company’s products, services, policies, and procedures. These are typically hosted on a company’s website or customer portal. External knowledge bases include help desks and customer support sites. 

An internal knowledge base is a database of information that is only accessible to employees or members of an organization. It is designed to provide employees with quick access to information that they need to do their jobs more effectively, such as company policies, procedures, training materials, best practices, technical documentation, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

The main difference between an external and internal knowledge base is who has access to the information. An external knowledge base is accessible to anyone looking for information, while an internal knowledge base is only accessible to employees or members of an organization.

What can a knowledge base do? 

  • Answer questions: A knowledge base can be used to answer questions posed by your team. If you’re interested in this, consider Tettra.
  • Power chatbots and virtual assistants: A knowledge base can be used to power chatbots and virtual assistants, allowing them to understand and respond to user queries and requests.
  • Integrate and manage data: A knowledge base can be used to integrate and manage data from multiple sources, providing a unified and consistent view of the information.
  • Decision support systems: A knowledge base can be used to support decision-making in complex domains by providing relevant information and insights to users.
  • Natural language processing: A knowledge base can be used to train machine learning models for tasks such as text classification, sentiment analysis, and named entity recognition.
  • Semantic search: A knowledge base can be used to improve search results by understanding the meaning and context of the user’s query and returning more relevant and accurate results.
  • Autonomous systems: A knowledge base can be used to support autonomous systems such as self-driving cars, robots, and drones, by providing them with the necessary knowledge to make decisions and operate safely and efficiently. Crazy!

What are the ways to use a knowledge base? 

But beyond being a central location for information, there are various ways to use a knowledge base to benefit users and businesses alike.

1. Customer Support

A knowledge base is an effective way to provide customer service and support. By compiling articles and resources that address frequently asked questions and common issues, you can reduce the need for human intervention. This not only saves time and resources, but it also empowers customers to find solutions on their own, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty. 

2. Onboarding and Training

A knowledge base is a valuable resource for onboarding and training new employees. The articles and guides can cover everything from company policies and procedures to industry-specific information. The knowledge base can also be used to provide ongoing training to employees, ensuring they have the latest information and skills required for their job.

“With a lot of startups, the onboarding piece is really difficult,” says Cal Brunell from Everyday Speech. “At the beginning, everybody owns a piece of the company, and information lives in everyone’s collective minds. Since implementing Tettra, we’ve gotten really good feedback from recent hires that the onboarding is super helpful and clear.” By centralizing information in Tettra, Everyday Speech helps employees understand the company more easily—from its overarching values to their specific jobs and daily work.

3. Marketing and Sales

A knowledge base can be used for marketing and sales purposes. By providing informative and educational resources, you can establish your organization as a thought leader in your field. This can lead to increased brand awareness and trust, which can help generate leads and sales. Additionally, a knowledge base can be used to provide product information and comparisons, helping customers make informed purchasing decisions.

4. Internal Communication

An internal knowledge base can improve internal communication within an organization. By having a centralized location for information, employees can easily access the information they need to perform their job. This reduces the need for unnecessary meetings and emails, leading to increased productivity and better collaboration.

5. Continuous Improvement

A knowledge base can be used for continuous improvement. By tracking user interactions with the articles and resources, you can gain insights into what areas need improvement or additional resources. This can lead to a more comprehensive and effective knowledge base, which benefits both users and businesses.

For instance, Tettra will flag stale content that may need to be updated. You can also assign a team member an article for revision or updating, ensuring that your knowledge base content is always up to date. 

How do you know if your team needs a knowledge base?

1. Poor customer support

If your customer service ratings are dismal, an external knowledge base can act as a new support channel. Instead of calling the support hotline or waiting for a chat support agent, customers can simply look up the information they need to solve the issue on their own. 

2. Growing complexity

As the organization grows, so do the teams and departments, each with their own specialized fields. This can lead to information silos, where valuable knowledge is left unused instead of being shared for the benefit of those who may need it.

3. Fragmented information

Information can get scattered, leading to lost productivity. Worse, it can even be contradictory, with different parties following different rules and interpretations of the same subject. The knowledge base acts as a single source of truth, so that all information it contains has been checked, verified and agreed upon by all parties.

4. Knowledge drain

Each time an employee leaves or retires, they take with them years of valuable knowledge and experience. This expertise can be captured by a knowledge base so that it gets passed on to future members of the company.

5. Training and development are not optimized

New hire orientation can be done faster and more efficiently when onboarding materials are contained in a knowledge base. Similarly, promotions and transfers can be accomplished more quickly and conveniently when the employee can access the training modules from the knowledge base.

What are the benefits of knowledge sharing in a knowledge base? 

By providing users at your company with the information they need, a knowledge base can reduce the number of inquiries that need to be handled by customer support or other departments. This frees up resources and allows organizations to focus on other important tasks.

Another benefit of creating a knowledge base is that it can help improve customer satisfaction. By providing customers with the information they need, organizations can reduce the frustration that comes with not being able to find answers to their questions. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.

  1. Improved collaboration: A knowledge base tool enables teams to work together more effectively by providing a centralized location for information and reducing duplication of effort.
  2. Increased efficiency: Knowledge bases can help reduce the time and effort required to find information, allowing teams to be more productive and focus on higher-value tasks.
  3. Better decision-making: Knowledge bases provide access to accurate and up-to-date information, allowing teams to make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
  4. Enhanced customer service: Knowledge bases can be used to provide self-service support for customers, reducing the burden on support teams and improving the customer experience.
  5. Improved onboarding: Knowledge bases can be used to create onboarding materials and training resources for new hires, helping them to quickly get up to speed and be productive.
  6. Knowledge retention: Knowledge bases can help capture and preserve institutional knowledge, ensuring that important information is not lost when employees leave the company or retire.
  7. Scalability: Knowledge bases can be easily scaled to accommodate growing teams and increasing amounts of information, ensuring that they remain useful and relevant over time.
  8. Standardization: Knowledge bases can help standardize processes and procedures, reducing variability and improving quality across teams and departments.

What makes a good knowledge base? 

  1. Easy to search and navigate: The knowledge base should be easy to search and navigate, with a clear and intuitive interface that makes it easy to find the information you need.
  2. Organized and structured: The knowledge base should be well-organized and structured, with information grouped into logical categories and subcategories.
  3. Up-to-date and accurate: The knowledge base should be kept up-to-date and accurate, with information reviewed and updated regularly to ensure its relevance and accuracy.
  4. Comprehensive and complete: The knowledge base should be comprehensive and complete, with all the information needed to answer common questions and address common issues.
  5. Access Controls: An external knowledge base should be accessible to all users, with clear guidelines and instructions on how to access and use the information. An internal knowledge base may need more permissions and controls to verify the correct information.
  6. Easy to maintain: The knowledge base should be easy to maintain, with a clear process for adding, editing, and removing information as needed.
  7. Consistent and standardized: The knowledge base should be consistent and standardized, with a clear style guide and formatting guidelines to ensure that information is presented in a uniform and professional manner.
  8. Collaborative: The knowledge base should be collaborative and participatory, with all team members encouraged to contribute their knowledge and expertise to help improve the content and accuracy of the knowledge base.

Overall, a great knowledge base should be easy to search and navigate, well-organized and structured, up-to-date and accurate, comprehensive and complete, accessible to all, easy to maintain, consistent and standardized, and collaborative. You want everyone to be comfortable sharing information. 

How do you choose a knowledge base? 

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a knowledge base:

1. Your business needs

Before choosing a knowledge base, you should assess your business needs. What type of information do you want to provide to your customers? Do you need a simple FAQ page or a more comprehensive knowledge base with articles, videos, and tutorials? You should also analyze the size of your business and the number of support requests you receive.

2. User Experience

The user experience is critical to the success of your knowledge base. You want to provide your customers with a seamless experience where they can easily find the information they need. Look for a knowledge base with a user-friendly interface, advanced search features, and an intuitive navigation system.

3. Customization Options

Every business has its own unique brand and style. You want a knowledge base that allows you to customize your content, design, and branding to align with your business’s aesthetics. A customizable knowledge base ensures that your customers receive a consistent experience across all touchpoints.

4. Integrations

Integrations are crucial to creating a comprehensive company knowledge base. For example, your knowledge base should integrate with your support system, allowing you to track support tickets and provide quick solutions to customer issues. Additionally, it should integrate with your website, social media channels, and other digital touchpoints.

5. Analytics and Reporting

Analytics and reporting are essential in measuring the success of your knowledge base. Look for a knowledge base that provides detailed analytics and reporting capabilities, including page views, search queries, and user behavior. These insights will help you optimize your knowledge base and improve your customer support strategies.

6. Pricing

Pricing is an important consideration when choosing a knowledge base. Most knowledge bases offer a range of pricing plans based on the number of users, features, and support options. Choose a plan that fits your budget and offers value for money.

There are usually free plans and plans that grow with your team or give you additional features. For instance, you can see how Tettra has set up their plans to meet different budgets and capabilities.

Choosing the right knowledge base is critical to delivering a smooth and efficient customer experience. By considering your business needs, user experience, customization options, integrations, analytics, and pricing, you can select a knowledge base that will meet your business needs and delight your customers.

Why Choose Tettra for Your Internal Knowledge Base

Tettra is an AI-powered knowledge management software system that helps you curate important company information into a knowledge base, use it to answer repetitive questions in Slack and MS Teams and keep it up-to-date, organized, and complete with automation.

Tettra offers a full suite of tools for sharing knowledge. With Tettra, you’ll get: 

  • Q&A workflow to capture questions
  • AI-powered knowledge base software to document answers
  • Knowledge management features to keep content up to date.
  • Integrations with Slack, MS Teams, Google Docs, Github and Zapier to make sure your team actually uses Tettra

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