How to create a customer service knowledge base? Free tools + templates included

Learn how to easily create a customer service knowledge base with step-by-step instructions. This guide covers how to identify customer questions, choose software, produce content, promote your KB, and gather feedback to improve it. Get tips on structure, navigation, branding, and more.
5 minutes
February 7, 2024

Customers prefer self-service support for common issues. Rather than depending on an exec to circle back, they’d much rather look up a 2-min tutorial and self-implement, whenever possible.

Customer service knowledge bases help in exactly this.

A well-designed customer service knowledge base improves customer satisfaction, reduces the workload of your customer support team. Customer success teams often report the need of solid product documentation as one of the most common requests by customers from new companies.

However, it’s hard to understand what a Customer Service Knowledge Base is, let alone build one.

Over time, we’ve got multiple queries asking if Slite was a customer service knowledge base. This led us to understand that clearly, everyone’s confused about this. While Slite's not purpose-built to be a customer service knowledge base, we know a thing or two about knowledge management. Over the last years, we've helped multiple customers on how to go about building their customer service knowledge base - and now, we'll help you.

Read on to figure out what exactly is a customer service Knowledge Base, how to build one, and tips to maintain it. Let’s go!

First of, what is a customer service Knowledge Base?

A customer service knowledge base is an online library of help documentation to assist customers in troubleshooting issues independently. It contains a variety of content like how-tos, FAQs, tutorials, troubleshooting guides, release notes, and policy information.

While a standard Knowledge Base - like Slite - is built for internal usage, documentation, and discussions that fuel daily ops of every team; a Customer Service Knowledge Base is built to help the customer help themselves, and your support staff.

Benefits of a Knowledge Base

For customers:

  1. Provides 24/7 self-service support
  2. Allows customers to get help quickly without contacting support
  3. Improves customer satisfaction

For support teams:

  1. Reduces ticket volume so agents can focus on complex issues
  2. Speeds up ticket resolution times
  3. Provides a learning resource for agent onboarding and training
  4. Helps gather customer insights to improve products and services

For businesses:

  1. Lowers customer support costs
  2. Improves brand loyalty and retention
  3. Provides a scalable support solution

What's the Difference between a Customer Service KB and a Help Desk?

You might think that customer service knowledge bases and help desks are synonymous. While they do share similarities, they’re vastly different.

Here’s the similarities and differences between a Customer Service Knowledge Base and a help desk:

What's Similar

  • Common Information Repository: Both serve as repositories of information.
  • Access by Users: They are accessible to users seeking information or assistance.
  • Content Updates: Regular updates ensure relevance and accuracy.

What's Different

  • Purpose and Focus: A Customer Service KB is tailored for customer inquiries, and a Help Desk manages and resolves customer issues.
  • Content Type: Customer Service KB includes FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and product-specific content, whereas a Help Desk focuses on tickets, case histories, and resolution procedures.
  • Primary Function: A Customer Service KB empowers quick issue resolution, while a Help Desk centrally tracks and manages customer problems.
  • Accessibility: Customer Service KBs often don’t have external customer access, while Help Desks typically have (some) external access for issue submission.
  • Integration: Help Desks integrate extensively with CRM and support tools, which is not as common for Customer Service Knowledge Bases.
  • User Contribution: Users actively submit issues in a Help Desk, while content creation in Customer Service KBs is primarily managed by support teams.
  • Metrics: Metrics for Customer Service KBs include self-help effectiveness and satisfaction, while Help Desks focus on issue resolution times and team performance.

While both share common traits, their purpose, audience, and functionality set them apart, making each essential in its own way.

A step-by-step guide to Build a Customer Service Knowledge Base

Step 1: Assign an owner

Get started by assigning an owner to your knowledge base. This can be a support leader, a technical writer, or even you. Just be sure to put it in writing so your customer service team knows who to contact for changes/updates/requests.

Step 2: Identify customer questions and pain points

Analyse sites like G2, ProductHunt, and Slack communities to create a list of frequent customer issues, questions, and needs.

Ask your team

The typical way to collect questions is

  • Go through your CRM
  • Ask your sales team
  • Ask your customer support team
  • Ask your product team for product documentation

Since they look at different steps of the buyer’s journey, they all might have different contributions. These should be the first questions you need to nail in your knowledge base.

Scrape customer questions from G2

If your company has a G2 profile and you’re looking for inspiration from there, here’s how:

  1. Go to your company’s G2 profile.
  2. Head to your reviews

How the reviews section looks

  1. Copy paste as many reviews as possible
  2. Download them in a pdf
  3. Ask chatGPT “Identify the most burning questions customers will have based on their G2 reviews here:” and attach the pdf file
  4. Voila, you have a list of questions you can add!

Scrape customer questions from social media

  1. Go to your comments and DMs. Manually copy all the customer questions you’ve received to a doc.
  2. Make a post asking your customers the questions they have about how-to’s and tutorials. Invite comments.
  3. Send an email blast about the same to your existing customers. Send 1-2 follow-up emails to maximise the # of responses.

Scrape customer questions from your competitor

If your competitor has a great customer knowledge base, you can use it as an inspiration for yours. Here’s how:

  1. Download Screaming Frog SEO Spider. It’s a free technical SEO tool to get a website’s sitemap and all URLs.
  2. Add the link in the box and hit Start. For this example, we’ll use
  3. Once the crawl is complete, you’ll have details of all their articles. Head to the Title column.
  4. It’s highly likely that your competitor created content after having done their research. Go through all their content titles, find which ones you’ll need for your knowledge base as well.
  5. All done - feel free to crawl as many similar knowledge bases as you need.

Step 3: Determine content formats

For each topic, determine the best format - written steps, images, gifs, or video.

P.S. The best format for most SOPs, documentation, and how-to’s will be text + screenshots. You can use Scribe’s free Chrome extension to make such documentation in minutes, as it intelligently creates documentation by recording your processes.

Step 4: Choose a knowledge base platform

Select a customer service knowledge base tool like Helpjuice or Zendesk Guide that fits your budget and needs. This is a tough step because there’s a lot of good ones to choose from. These are parameters on which they differ:

  1. Functionality
  2. Customer experience
  3. Knowledge management features (like being able to mark docs with their verification status)
  4. Search bar functionality - Search functionality is super useful for your customers to quickly find the article they’re looking for
  5. Whether or not they support live indexing so search engines can crawl and rank your articles for target queries
  6. Integrations
  7. AI-powered features

A great knowledge base tool will tick all the boxes above. However, it’s important you choose the one that’s the easiest to use for your customers while staying in your budget.

Step 5: Create an outline

  1. Remember all the questions you collected in step 1? Compile all of them in GSheets.
  2. Then, add a new column and name it category
  3. Against every question, add its category like
  1. Refunds
  2. How-tos
  3. Help articles
  4. Common bugs
  5. Customer support details
  1. Now you have your bare minimum categories needed with a set of questions!

Step 6: Produce initial articles

Start by creating content for them. To speed up the process,

  1. Use tools like Scribe to create documentation fast
  2. Record quick Looms for longer SOPs and repurpose their transcript into an article using AI. Then, host the article with the video as one of your knowledge base articles.
  3. Ensure that you go through the most asked questions first. And hit publish.

Remember, this is your MVP. You’ll build it more and more, one question at a time, over the next months.

Step 7: Launch and promote your knowledge base

Publish your content online in a way that Google can index your articles. Also, update the sitemap and schema before submitting your website for a crawl request. Once that’s done, set up GA4 in case you’d like to see usage analytics of your knowledge base.

Once done, promote it internally and externally to customers.

How to externally promote your new knowledge base?

  1. Create social media posts with the link to our knowledge base
  2. Send it as an email blast to your existing customers
  3. Add it in the header and footer of your website
  4. Ensure all your articles are SEO-indexable
  5. Add the link to the knowledge base within your product’s sidebar/settings so users can quickly access it
  6. Push a product pop-up to announce your new customer knowledge base to your existing users. This is done to ensure that your existing customers are aware of your new knowledge base, even if they’re not following you on socials or opening your newsletters. It’s a must-do, especially if you have low open rates.

Step 8: Iterate based on feedback

Survey customers and analyse how to use data to optimise your knowledge base. You’ll get valuable tidbits that you can implement to your knowledge base. The best way to incorporate their feedback is to commit to monthly updating your knowledge base.

7 Best Practices for a customer service knowledge base

1. Write how your audience writes

The knowledge base content should use language your customers actually use. Avoid complex jargon and write conversationally.

  • Use simple words your customers will understand
  • Write in a conversational tone using contractions
  • Address your reader directly as "you" and "your"
  • Add bullet points to make info easier to digest (see what we did here?)

2. Keep branding consistent

Follow brand guidelines to ensure the knowledge base aligns with your overall branding and messaging. This reinforces brand recognition and trust.

  • Use your brand colours, logo, and fonts
  • Maintain your brand's tone and messaging
  • Follow brand imagery and graphic guidelines

3. Focus on most common customer issues first

Prioritising high-demand topics improves customer satisfaction. Identify these issues by analysing customer interactions.

  • Check analytics for top searches and viewed articles
  • Review support tickets and calls for frequent questions
  • Ask agents what issues they encounter most

4. Intuitive IA and navigation

Well-organised information architecture and navigation helps users find answers quickly.

  • Organise articles into clear category sections
  • Use descriptive headings and subheadings
  • Include table of contents on long articles
  • Link related articles together

5. Use visuals to illustrate concepts

Visuals improve comprehension, especially for complex processes. They also break up long sections of text.

  • Include screenshots for tutorial steps
  • Make gifs to demonstrate processes
  • Embed relevant videos where helpful
  • Use illustrations and diagrams for concepts

6. Collect customer feedback

Get feedback through surveys and usage metrics. This identifies content gaps and improvement opportunities.

  • Send surveys asking how to improve the knowledge base
  • Provide rating buttons to vote on article helpfulness
  • Analyse search queries to identify gaps

7. Update content regularly

Outdated or inaccurate content frustrates customers. Keep information comprehensive with regular refreshes.

  • Review old articles quarterly for needed updates
  • Archive or delete outdated content
  • Interview reps to identify new FAQs
  • Add articles when products or features change

Conclusion - A Customer Service Knowledge Base is a Constant WIP

Much like SaaS products, a customer service knowledge base should evolve regularly. While the bare minimum should be a collection of SOPs and how-to’s. There are endless ways to always keep improving your knowledge base. Be it adding new articles, forum-like features, integrating a chatbot, etc. A Customer Service Knowledge Base is a big investment with a bigger RoI. While it may be overwhelming, our advice would be to start ASAP, and then keep tweaking it along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of knowledge bases are there?

The main types are internal (for employees) and external (for customers). But there are also different structures like hierarchical, contextual, and hybrid. An internal knowledge base is useful for day to day work, whereas an external knowledge base is primarily meant to communicate changes, help articles, step-by-step guides, customer queries, etc.

What is the best customer service knowledge base software?

Top platforms include Zendesk Guide, Helpjuice, etc. The best solution depends on your budget and specific needs.

What skills are required to create knowledge base content?

  1. Strong technical writing
  2. Ability to explain complex topics simply
  3. Customer empathy
  4. Project management
  5. Data analysis
  6. Collaboration

Should knowledge base content be created by one person or a team?

While one person can oversee the initiative, it's best to leverage subject matter experts and diverse voices for content creation.

How do you structure and organise a knowledge base?

Group related topics into logical sections and categories. Use clear IA and navigation so users can easily find information.

Written by

Ishaan Gupta is a writer at Slite. He doom scrolls for research and geeks out on all things creativity. Send him nice Substack articles to be on his good side.

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Written by

Ishaan Gupta is a writer at Slite. He doom scrolls for research and geeks out on all things creativity. Send him nice Substack articles to be on his good side.