Is It Time to Revamp Your Knowledge Base?

This is an account of how we scaled Insent’s knowledge base to accelerate product adoption across our customer base. In the process, we realized 100% feature coverage through our help documentation and scaled the knowledge base by 3x in article volume over six months.

In November 2020, as a part of our 2021 product planning process, we imagined how Insent’s product documentation should look like six months and one year into the future. As a part of the exercise, we deep-dived into how Insent’s knowledge base increasingly played a vital role in customer adoption. 

As a company focused on mid-market and enterprise clients, we realized it was time to invest dedicated effort into scaling knowledge management at Insent. We began assessing the current state of our knowledge base and started having customer conversations around product adoption and documentation to envision how an ideal knowledge base should be. 

We Quickly Learned a Few Things:

1. Customers Wanted a Complete Picture of Product Functionality at Their Own Pace 🕰️

When we surveyed marketers for the State of Buyer Enablement Report, we learned that nearly 80% of marketers try to stay on top of the market through their research. This was a strong signal coming from the market, given that we were working closely with marketing and sales teams. 

Talking to our customer success team and our customers helped us realize that a content repository of product features and capabilities was necessary to empower our global customer base. 

2. We Noticed That Our Customer-Facing Teams Were Responding to More Questions via Email 📧

We noticed a pattern.  

Some product modules garnered more customer inquiries and needed additional time and effort during customer training sessions or additional info through email communication. 

For example, we received a lot of questions about our integrations with HubSpot and Salesforce. Understanding this helped us identify that some modules needed comprehensive coverage from a technical perspective while others did not garner deep technical questions. 

We realized that 80% of customer requests were around ~20% of the features (Integrations, audience, agent routing, and calendar assignment). This insight helped us establish and prioritize some of these modules from a documentation perspective. 

3. A Global Team With Remote Collaboration Accelerated the Need for a Centralized Product Repository 

We shipped features consistently and at the same time were rapidly scaling our team. We quickly realized that it was essential to ensure that different functional units are aligned around the product releases and roadmap.

We began organizing bi-weekly company-wide demos to align all of our teams to discuss the latest releases and demo different features. Since work was done asynchronously, we realized it was becoming important to think about asynchronous knowledge transfer.

These bi-weekly product office hours helped us understand that a centralized knowledge repository for all product features and FAQs was necessary to empower all the different functions. 

And as we shipped product and hosted internal demos, we also shared knowledge base articles internally to receive feedback and empower different functional units to go ahead and do their best work.

Going From Zero to One With the Knowledge Base

 

When our learnings pointed us towards the need for a robust knowledge base we realized we had to dive deeper into what it should achieve and the kinds of content we should prioritize to empower our customers and internal stakeholders. 

Here are a series of questions we examined to put together a framework for thinking about the Insent knowledge base.

1. What Is the Goal of the Knowledge Base?

Starting with the ‘why’ helped us identify what kinds of content we have to put together for our customers. We looked at the repository of questions that the product and customer success teams had gathered over time in customer conversations and via email/chat communication. 

These questions served as the foundation for setting goals for the knowledge base. The set of goals for the knowledgebase were defined as follows:

  • Explain product features and configuration requirements: Offer a step-by-step guide to help customers work independently to set up Insent. 
  • Explain feature use cases: Empower customers to discover use cases for chat and to nudge our customers to explore more of the product and become super users.
  • Resolve frequently asked product support queries and provide troubleshooting help: Curate a repository of frequently asked questions across our customer base to help troubleshoot most problems without customer success team help in under 5 minutes. When additional help is required, empower the customer to be able to quickly chat with the customer success team while browsing the knowledge base.
  • Share release updates: Share release notes to help customers understand feature release history and changes made.

2. What Are Design Considerations to Be Kept in Mind While Curating a Knowledge Base?

A Knowledge Base Should Be Readable

The knowledge base should be designed for ease of consumption in mind. Some directives that we closely followed are:

  • A descriptive title to help the reader understand what the article is about
  • Bullets to help readers digest information easily
  • Short, easy to read paragraphs
  • Linking to related articles based on context

Prioritize the Ease of Content Discovery

  • Tag knowledge base articles to improve the search functionality
  • Optimize SEO for your help articles
  • Optimize your knowledge base for helping readers to navigate from one feature to another with ease

Maintain Consistent Branding

Brand voice, colors, and visual design should be in line with your overall brand strategy. 

When we were putting together our knowledgebase we defined and followed a style guide for all the knowledge base articles

Structure Articles With Continuous Improvement in Mind

Make your documentation maintainable and easy to overhaul over time. 

Some ways you could do this is to hyperlink old articles with new ones when new features roll out. Make it easy to replace old screenshots with new ones when there are changes to the user interface.

Measure the Usefulness of the Knowledge Base Periodically 

While choosing a knowledge base tool, select an alternative that can help you get continuous feedback on your articles with minimal configuration. 

Add a chat tool that would pop up and assist your visitors. When they do not find what they are looking for, the chat platform could help them get direct access to the customer success and product team to ask questions.

PS: We have Insent on all our knowledgebase pages 🤩  

3. How Should the Information Be Organized in the Knowledge Base?

Information Should Be Discoverable and Accessible

Ensure content on your knowledge base is designed with accessibility in mind. Grouping similar pieces of content help a lot! At Insent, we segmented the knowledge base into two distinct categories, the support documentation and the quick reference section

The support documentation contains articles and content around product configuration and use cases (tutorials and how-to guides).

The quick reference section presents release notes and other reference material.

Organize information in a way that would arrange similar pieces together. This helps your readers discover content that they are interested to learn more about.

You can group articles at a module level. Articles about a specific module can be listed under a specific section in the knowledge base. For example, we have all articles about the ‘Conversations’ module within the ‘Conversations’ section of the knowledge base.

You can alternatively organize your documentation based on content type. The Grand Unified Theory of Documentation describes how to segment the help documentation into how-to articles, tutorials, references, and explanation sections to cater to different learning modes.  

Ultimately the approach comes down to the one that works the best for your readers. Keeping the knowledge base minimalistic and coming up with a knowledge base structure at the beginning will help you manage and grow the knowledge base effectively. 

We followed the following knowledge base structure:

Support Documentation Section

  • Introductory articles (Getting Started)
  • Step-by-step tutorials (Module based)
  • How-to guides and use-case explainers (Module based)

Quick Reference Section

  • Frequently asked questions
  • Glossaries and Descriptive notes
  • Webinar recordings and Product tours (Upcoming)
  • Release notes

We decided to use a combination of module-level and content-type-based classifications to organize our knowledge base. 

We realized that combining both approaches helped us be nimble and work towards advancing Insent’s feature and use-case coverage in the knowledge base. 

You can learn more about our knowledge base by visiting help.insent.ai 

4. How to Write Articles to Best Cater to the Reader 📖?

Define Your Target Audience for Your Knowledge Base

Your audience persona(s) should inform the content you share on the knowledge base. For example, most of Insent documentation caters to Marketing Ops roles. 

Knowing our target personas helped ensure that we avoid unnecessary jargon and are very careful about keeping content simple and easy to understand for the target audience.

Design for the Average Member of Your Audience 

Ensure that your target audience understands your product documentation and finds it useful.

Leave nothing to the imagination of the reader, state the prerequisites and the limitations. Try not to sell, instead focus on being descriptive about how your product can help its users!

Cater to Multiple Modes of Learning 💡

Use multiple modes of content to present information, use screenshots, gifs, text, video, etc., to communicate the same idea in different formats. Use examples and tutorial exercises to cater to different modes of learning. 

Once you identify a promising approach for your organization’s knowledge base, the next step of the journey is to define how to track progress.

5. How Do You Measure Progress📈?

At Insent, we asked this question early into the project of scaling the knowledge base. We discerned that this was an important question, and after significant consideration, we decided to track two metrics: feedback score over the entire knowledge base and the feature coverage %

Focusing on these two metrics helped Insent significantly expand the help documentation coverage across all features, and today we have nearly 100% article coverage over all of Insent’s features. 

You could choose to measure other appropriate metrics based on your context. This decision entirely depends on your goals, resources, and timeline. 

Measuring Customer Feedback 👥🔊

The feedback score at an article level helped us focus on specific articles that needed additional work. The metric helped us cover gaps and turn around new versions with improved content quickly. 

Understanding customer feedback at an article and a knowledge base level helped us understand what our customers felt has helped us continuously improve our offering. 

Measuring Feature Coverage 📝

We broke our features into components and modules through the work-breakdown structure framework. The framework helped us ensure that all features are described in significant detail in our documentation.

Recognize That Building a Great Knowledge Base Is Always a Work in Progress 🔰

“Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.”

― Shunryu Suzuki

Building something valuable takes consistent effort, and with a knowledge base, expect the process to iterative and long-term! 

A knowledge base is one of the most fundamental media to share product knowledge with customers in B2B Enterprise. At Insent, talking to our customers led us to prioritize and invest significant effort in setting up a world-class knowledge base at Insent.

Thanks a lot for reading this article. We hope it was helpful!

We’re rapidly scaling the Insent team, and here’s an opportunity to be a part of a rocket ship, building the best chat experience for B2B Enterprise. You can find out more about our open roles at https://careers.insent.ai/jobs

PS: We’re hiring a technical writer to expand our knowledge management efforts ✍️. If you find this article interesting and would love to contribute, please check out this open role.😄

 

Sreyas Sriram

Sreyas is the Associate Product Manager at Insent.ai, a human-first conversational marketing platform that connects B2B marketers to their target prospects the moment they land on their website.

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