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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 
    652 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?


    • Nicole Anderson

      Great post, thank you for sharing! 

    • Simon Kilgarriff

      Thanks for all the positive comments.  I'm really pleased this struck a chord with other people.   It is great to hear your experiences too.

    • Michelle Hiland

      I completely agree with the knowledge base being the first important step. We have recently updated our FAQ and help articles to address this as it is an on-going part of our product experience. 

    • Simon Kilgarriff
      Ivan Abaitey said:

      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.

      View original


      Hi Ivan,

      You mention managing answers 4 languages.  I'd love to hear a bit more about how you do that as it is something I'm sure loads of other people would like to know.   Do you use Meta answers to group them together or do you have other methods?

      I've seen customers manage up to 30 languages using meta-answers and use some nifty answer import tools to import the translated/localised text back in to Service Cloud.   


    • jitu mani das

      Great info!!! We will try it. KB is really helpfull...

    • Mark Hensley

      We would like search to function better in knowledge foundation, but I guess as Tier 0, keyword is the only means.  By that I mean, we have attempted to utilize Exact Phrase, but it searches as if we were looking for any combination of all the words listed, which isn't really exact.  So, we don't provide any search options beyond product.  The End-User (which are all employees, by the way), has indicated they would like more refinement in searching, but as of yet, we have not found out how we can do this.  nor has our third party Oracle preferred partner been able to help in this area.

    • Christos Sklavenitis

      One thing we've done is focus on a metric that isn't available outright in any OOTB reports that I know of, but that can quickly be calculated. It is the percentage of site visits that include at least one answer view. 

      My reasoning is that we could have the greatest content imaginable, but it's not doing us any good if the people who are hitting our site aren't using it for whatever reason. When we first launched, we were at about 34%. Over the last quarter we're closer to 48%.

    • Chuck Udzinski

      Yes, we refer to that metric as the Knowledge Consumption percentage. Basically, as Christos stated, Answers Viewed/Hits. Christos is correct that this is not an OOTB report. However, I would direct everyone to the following post: . Here you will find another chapter to the Analytics Cookbook focusing on KB reports. The report mentioned by Christos is named: Knowledge Consumption by Interface.

      Lots of really interesting reports to help you determine the value of your KB content.

    • Matt Sumner

      Thanks for your time on this topic. It's important that companies understand the importance of a concise KB for deflection.

    • Justin

      A good, proactively managed KB library defers calls/emails/chats as customers can help themselves. I know personally the first thing i do when i have a question is go search a companies KBs. 

    • Dawn M. Smith

      Enjoyed reading this and it's great to know that others see the same value in using knowledge that we do - thanks for sharing !

    • Anonymousposted December 17, 2018
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