In a previous post, I talked about how to start getting your internal knowledge into a knowledge base. But just because you’ve built a knowledge base, doesn’t mean people will begin using it. You need to ensure that content is maintained and that people know how to use it to find the information they need.
Here’s a strategy I’ve used when implementing a new knowledge base in a scenario where users rely on IT support people and helpdesk systems:
- When a new helpdesk request is submitted, the IT support person uses the knowledge base to determine if an answer has already been documented.
- If the answer has been documented, the IT support person sends the link to the knowledge base answer along with an explanation of how to find it by searching the knowledge base. (Ex: “Hi Fred, I found these instructions by searching with “iPhone” and “IMAP” in our knowledge base: https://www.knowledgebaseurlhere.edu…”)
- If the answer there is no documented answer in the knowledge base, the IT support person could either take the time to document it first and then follow the steps for #2, or he or she could reply to the ticket but save a copy of the answer for the knowledge base later.
There are several reasons for using this strategy:
- It develops and maintains and the knowledge base documentation. Each time helpdesk issues arise, documentation is either being created or reviewed. Your efforts are placed proportionally to the need of your customer base.
- It ensures a consistent party-line answer. Your knowledge base becomes the canon. All helpdesk people refer to it for answers, so there is less of a chance that users become confused or frustrated by answers that change based on which person they ask.
- It saves support staff the redundant effort of providing an explanation if one is already out there. If one user has an issue, chances are another user may have it later. Having that information saved for future-even if one or two steps need to be updated-will save you effort later.
- It’s a subtle way to show users how to search for answers within the knowledge base. You are not only encouraging support people to use and maintain a knowledge base, but you are having support people teach the users how to use the knowledge base. Instead of just feeding them the answers, you are teaching them how to fish for them!
For more information, check out Writing Documentation & Training Materials.
Photo Credit: Fishing Harbour in Setubal by fotografar