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    Simon Kilgarriff
    How Does Your Knowledge Base’s Power Measure Up?
    Entry posted March 13, 2018 by Simon KilgarriffPro, tagged Best Practices, Product / Product Release 
    678 Views, 26 Comments
    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?


    • eleep

      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

      Erica, Oracle Service Cloud

    • Ammar Aldaffaie

      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

      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

      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

      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

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

    • Erik Henley

      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

      Great post! Look forward to discussing this with colleagues.

    • Ivan Abaitey

      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

      Very nice post, thank you!

    • Richard Keevil

      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

      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

      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

      Thanks for the information. This was a helpful post.

    • Tom Oates

      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.