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knowledge base
Ever noticed how many software products exist on the internet that do not have documentation or a knowledge base helping you learn how to use it? A lot of times a knowledge base will not exist and if it does, it contains outdated information. Some times this is because, as the person responsible for managing the documentation you are just not sure where to start.

Getting Started

One of the biggest challenges when getting started with online documentation is knowing what to write about. What you could do is think through you customers end-to-end experience with your product. From the first time they learn of your product through an acquisition channel to the customer support request they submit after they have become a customer. This should reflect the actual experience not the planned or desired experience that you or your company may be working toward.

What you will likely find is that at any point during the end-to-end customer experience, there is opportunity for a customer to have a question and stall. Stalling can mean a reason not to buy your product and that leads to lost sales. That is not what you want. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the customer support.

Use your existing resources

The obvious thing may seem to be asking your technical support agents what they think are the most common issues and that is a great start but it isn’t always the best method. Reason being, the support agents will usually only remember the instances that they hear about the most frequently and have heard most recently. While this is helpful, it may not give you a complete picture of what your customers need help with.

The good news is that this information is likely something that you have already if you are using a knowledge base or a ticketing tool. So, in addition to talking with your support agents, you should use this business intelligence from your existing knowledge base – if one exist – or the ticket support tool to identify trends that would serve as good knowledge base topics. We will focus on the ticketing tool since we are discussing building your knowledge base and it is likely it does not exist just yet.

Trends

Identifying these trends might seem time consuming upfront and may very well be depending on how you capture your support request. Rest assured that it will pay off later in the form of reduced support request and better customer experience amongst other benefits.

Categorize and Quantify

Now, If you are categorizing your support request then this is quite easy. Categorizing is a somewhat board term because it can be handled differently depending on the ticketing tool – or existing knowledge base – you are using. However, most ticketing tools and knowledge base management tools will have some method of categorizing data. If you are not using any means of categorizing your support request, then you can still do this exercise but you will be reduced to reading (touching) each one of your support request and looking for similar support request types, then quantifying those perhaps using a spreadsheet. While this may be the most time consuming method, it is still worth the time investment.

This makes a case for one common but underutilized method to track support request which is tagging. Tagging allows you to group similar request with keyword or key phrases so that when you are performing your analysis, it will be much more efficient in terms of time saved to identify trends.

Summary

After you have reviewed the trends in your ticketing tool for let us say the past thirty days or so, you should now have a few support request types / subjects that are repeatedly being asked by your customers. Be advised that you can always dig deeper than the past thirty days for more trends but thirty days is a great start. Once you have this information in hand, you can combine it with what your support reps have provided and that should provide you with a list of topics for your knowledge base.

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